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Let’s do a quick role play. I imagine myself as the CEO of a manufacturing business for a day. I’ve barely had my first cup of coffee without being deeply in thought about the massive challenges this industry is currently facing. From the pressure to move to a smart and completely automated factory to strong globalized competition – steering such a business to future success is no piece of cake. Regardless of the tremendous complexities that lie in the business model itself, my customers are nowadays demanding individually, accurately configured solutions presented to them in a perfect quote at the lowest possible price. Before dawn.

OK, OK, I am ready to switch back to being me, and glad to be meeting someone who offers a solution to the massive headaches that I just envisioned.

The next wave for manufacturers: Industry 4.0

That someone is Dr. Christian Cuske, CEO and co-founder of In Mind Cloud, who developed the “manufacturing sales headache remedy,” Cloud CPQ Express. This solution radically simplifies the complexities and accelerates the sales cycle for manufacturing and engineering industries. I have known Christian for a few years already, since In Mind Cloud was in fact one of the first innovators to build an app on SAP Cloud Platform nearly five years ago.

Now, Cloud CPQ Express is available on SAP App Center, the SAP digital marketplace, which gave me a good excuse to catch up with him to find out the latest news. My first question: What’s happening in the marketplace?

“Our market environment clearly is fast-growing, but constantly changing,” he replied. “Manufacturers are challenged by the next major evolution of their business, Industry 4.0. Their end customers now expect the buying experience of ‘lot-size one,’ at the cost benefit of mass production. And we are right in the middle, since digitizing the sales process is a very real and successful response to this challenge.”

What type of manufacturers? The list is growing fast – along with sales.

“In Mind Cloud continues on a tremendous hyper-growth path, growing our business more than 400% in 2017,” he said. “We nearly doubled our fantastic customer base, adding contract manufacturers, steel companies, machine makers, and medical equipment providers to the portfolio. We see our mission as helping manufacturing companies stay ahead in the next industrial revolution.”

The beauty of the cloud

Knowing that in the competitive CPQ market, product innovation must persist, I was intrigued about the latest product developments, which include real-time sales simulation capabilities and new integration with SAP S/4HANA. And SAP Cloud Platform, Christian explained, is the ideal foundation.

“Our entire software is built using SAP Cloud Platform with its vast integration and innovation capabilities, using mobile and UI frameworks, the SAP HANA database, and AI technologies,” he said. “What’s more, beginning in 2018, our software is accessible via standard SAP support channels.” However, Christian emphasized that his team focuses on real-life industrial sales problems beyond the usual CPQ scope, like managing the price decay of manufacturing contracts after the sell, or using geospatial data to pre-fill 80% of a quote. “So, our customer testimonials on reducing quote times from weeks to minutes or being THE backbone of sales digitization initiatives, combined with zero churn, just shows we are right.” And he added that, even with the longtime focus on SAP, “In Asia, especially looking at mid-tier companies, we can’t take for granted that they are running SAP. So In Mind Cloud is strengthening our integration capabilities from 2018 onwards.”

Clear skies ahead

In Mind Cloud, which began six years ago as a technology startup by former SAP managers and engineers in Germany and Singapore, is evolving into a leading independent provider of innovative manufacturing sales platforms.

The company adheres to a focused regional strategy, which Christian considers merely a reflection of market dynamics. “Asia and China are soaring! With our headquarters, marketing, and engineering teams in Singapore, we are in a perfect spot to serve the Asian market,” he added. “While we maintain our close relationship to Europe as the manufacturing powerhouse – and the headquarters of our partner SAP through our German office and cultural roots. Our new office in China will mark another important milestone in our expansion. Together with our new representatives in Taiwan and Indonesia, we have set a clear growth path for 2018 and beyond.”

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