Former Cisco CEO John Chambers said famously, “disrupt yourself, or risk being disrupted by the competition.”
In a quickly shifting digital landscape, these words hold true for any company, but are especially relevant for the B2B sector.
Identifying and leveraging disruptive trends will help B2B businesses significantly boost their digital strategy and form a necessary digital edge.
What is digital disruption?
A product of various maturing technologies such as social, mobile, big data, and advanced analytics, digital disruption refers to changes in human behavior as a result of the tech revolution.
At its core, digital disruption is a force of change, and like change, it is neither inherently positive or negative — it can bring down an empire (see Blockbuster) or be the feeding-grounds for innovation.
B2C companies have led the way in harnessing disruptive forces — Dominos and Amazon, just to name a few, channel new tech to completely reinvent their customer’s experience.
B2B companies are also actively working to transform their organization, processes, and technology, however, many still admit room for improvement.
How is digital disruption challenging B2B companies?
Confusion over digital initiative ownership
There was never an official consensus on who is supposed to lead digital transformation initiatives within an organization, which can result, unsurprisingly, in a lack of clear leadership.
According to Forrester, in B2B companies, the CEO and CIO are equally likely to be assigned digital ownership, while many thought there should be a chief digital officer or chief strategy officer leading the project.
While it doesn’t necessarily matter who takes ownership, it is imperative that a forward-thinking leader is in charge of establishing a strategy and implementing the digital vision.
An article published on medium profiles one such leader, Carol Hurwitz-Broadstein, SVP Customer Experience at a sizable bank in Boston. She was given the task of “finishing” a sluggish transformation, 12 years in the works.
Carol was able to prioritize ‘customer needs awareness’ within the organization and successfully merge digital initiatives and with digital customer experience strategies. She concludes that transformation should not have a stopping point, rather organizations should always evolve digitally to better serve their customers.
Moral of the story? Find the right person to pilot your digital journey.
Businesses do not have a complete understanding of digital
B2B businesses still lag behind consumer businesses across the board and, according to Forrester, are less likely to understand online consumer behavior or predict how digital strategy and tactics can drive success.
Specifically, businesses underestimate the potential streamlining back-end operations can have on customer experience. No true digital transformation can take place without having a system that allows the entire company to become more effective.
Embracing the right technology is key — software which does not just do the same thing in the cloud, but effectively alters workflow to streamline processes.
Customer demands are the changing market
The last seven years or so have ushered in what is known as the “age of the customer,” a disruptive power shift in favor of the customer. As a result of technological and economic forces, customers are now in a position to expect more from businesses than they have in the past.
When asked to rate their strategic priorities over the next year, B2B and B2C firms both said to prioritize customer experience first, however B2B were focused more on growing revenue and reducing costs than their B2C counterparts who ranked “improved differentiation in the market.”
This goal to differentiate the business offer shows the foresight of B2C to capitalize on the disruptive digital future, something which B2B businesses might also stand to benefit from.
Digital customer experience is the single most important aspect of digital transformation and yet, most businesses are not allocating enough resources into meeting and exceeding expectations. To create experiences that matter to customers, think first about what the experience should be and then find the right technology to bring it to life.
In the “age of the customer,” if you do not provide customers a seamless experience, your competitors will.
The role of the employee is evolving
Fresh approaches to a traditional work environment, from training methods to HR, will create a new and increasingly disruptive reality.
Smart platforms that automate many aspects of an employee’s role force organizations to rethink and restructure their human resources. As machine learning and A.I. become routine parts of workplace tools, the role of the employee grows to encompass more value and less busy-work.
Take the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for example. When an organization implements this digital tool, the structure of software use will fundamentally change. From onboarding and training to completing daily tasks, the employee is empowered with a tool that will both focus and guide them, allowing them to invest more mental energy towards the task at hand.
This disruptive force will continue to change the way we interact with technology, and with it brings many opportunities for organizations to excel in a digital future.