Increasingly, digital customer relationships are at the heart of the business model in B2B. By integrating data and building great user experiences, B2B companies can serve their customers better and create opportunities for cross-selling, upselling and retention. But how do you go about it? And where do you start? In this blog, we outline a roadmap to digital innovation in B2B.
Step 1 - Determine your ambitions
Success always starts with an ambitious goal. A clear objective will get everyone on the same page and generate energy.
Starting with the 'what' and the 'why' will also give a clearer perspective than immediately diving into the 'how', however tempting that may be with technology. This way, what you want generally turns out to be possible. We rarely find technology to be the limiting factor once the creative juices have started to flow.
Don't forget to involve your customers at an early stage. Organize sessions with them and try to find out more about their desires and plans. The best B2B strategy is one that compliments them. Furthermore, direct customer contact will help you validate your creative ideas before making any technological choices.
Step 2 - Assess your technology landscape
Now that you know where you want to go, it is time to take a critical look at your toolbox. The only way to move forward is by knowing exactly what tech you have and what you are using it for. Don't rely too much on documentation because almost all companies have outdated documentation. In B2B companies that have been adding products, languages, markets and countries for years and have grown through mergers and acquisitions, an abundance of technology is floating around. Often, the same functions are performed by different systems and data silos have been formed, causing issues for potential integrations. A solid overview of the current situation is essential for a successful next step.
Step 3 - Gap analysis
Innovation does not always start with 'disposing of all and starting from scratch. Do an objective gap analysis to discover what technology you need to invest in to realize your ambitions and which systems can remain for the time being, possibly 'wrapped up' in an integration layer. The sharper you set your priorities, the more effectively you can spend your innovation euros. Best to concentrate on developing or purchasing what you need in the short term and see whether you can continue with your legacy.
Remember: technology is just a tool. So as long as you can realize your strategy with the tech you have, there is no need to resort to fancy new solutions.
Step 4 - Validate solutions and assumptions
Now the fun part begins: coming up with new solutions. In this step, apply all of your creativity to look for new digital touchpoints. What can you do in your market with mobile apps? Is there an opportunity for voice applications? Communities, perhaps? Social media? Web? Keep talking to your customers. They are the only ones who can tell you whether you are thinking in the right direction. Validate any assumption you make with them first, and demonstrate your new digital functionalities at an early stage. Is it not working? Get rid of it and come up with something better. That is the key to rapid innovation with minimal risk.
Would you like to read more?
In our white paper "4 Steps to digital B2B commerce that really works ", we show you what you need to do to innovate your tech, get more out of your data and work on digital B2B commerce in a customer-focused and innovative way.