Digital Transformation Strategies For B2B Manufacturers in 2020
Adding Value to Digital Touchpoints via Technologies, Teams, and CX Overhauls
Manufacturers across verticals are accelerating their adoption of digital technologies, creating new business processes; digital-aligned company cultures; and more trusting, personalized customer experiences to meet changing business and market demands. This provides new challenges to the traditional roles of sales, marketing, and customer service as companies respond to new opportunities more quickly and differentiate themselves from competitors. But what are the opportunities available to these companies, and how can they exceed expectations using new and compelling methods for engagement?
About the Study
WBR Insights partnered with the B2B Online event team in their preliminary research for an upcoming industry study, Digital Transformation: Key Strategies for B2B Manufacturers in 2019 - 2020. The initial survey respondents represent manufacturers and distributors of all sizes, ranging from less than $100 million to over $500 million in annual revenue. Most preliminary respondents are team leaders, managers, directors, and department leaders at these B2B companies.
Early Signs of Technology Overhaul in Both Internal and Customer-Facing Capacities
As we approach 2020, most manufacturers and distributors will prioritize technology adoption for a wide range of improvements—operations, data collection and analysis, and outmoding legacy systems. Specifically, 61% claim this applies to adopting strategies and technologies that help them acquire and analyze customer data.
Also majorities, 57% claim they will improve operations through next technology adoption, and 55% will improve or replace outdated legacy systems and siloed organizational structures. (Five data points have been excluded from the chart; they will appear in the final report.)
These changes align not only with improvements to customer-facing digital processes, but also enhancements to how teams measure and improve upon their successes. Access to business analytics enabled sales teams to measure achievement towards their goals on a daily basis, rather than rely on monthly reports, for example. "Data analytics has helped us use data more effectively" while new eCommerce models allow for "faster response and adaptation," says one director at an enterprise manufacturer.
Realigning Cross-Departmental Teams, Budgets to Add Value to Digital
Above multiple metrics—three minor data points have been excluded from the following chart and will appear in the final report—B2B companies are overhauling digital touchpoints and customer experiences leading into 2020. A majority (53%) will use digital channels as means to engage entirely new customers in unique segments, building upon their existing customer base.
This effort coincides with internal adaptation, where nearly half of B2B companies (49%) are changing the ways they prepare sales, marketing, and customer service teams to engage digital customers. At a similar scale (44%), B2B companies are reprioritizing budgets to increase value in digital channels. The latter two data points highlight companies' broader efforts to update operations and analytics as part of internal transformation, as highlighted in our first chart.
Respondents were outspoken about these new technology changes and realignments of internal teams. According to one team leader at a mid-market distributor:
"Our most successful digital strategy has been launching our eCommerce website and enhancing it with personalized capabilities. eCommerce sales is our fastest growing channel, but it's also giving a lift to our traditional sales channel, the call center."
This is especially pronounced among respondents who highlight specific gains in these business capacities. One director at an SMB distributor claims their eCommerce marketing division has seen a 50x monthly return thanks to new digital strategies. Another highlights successful quarterly reports concerning platform ROI across departments—including marketing, sales, and IT—following a 15-month digital transformation of their CX strategies.
Digital Transformation Expands Reach to Unique Customer Segments, Differentiates from Competitors
We can see that B2B companies' digital prioritizations and internal realignment coincide with efforts to differentiate themselves from competitors in terms of the customer experience. Over half of companies (51%) are making product research and purchases easier for customers, largely by adding new value to digital touchpoints.
For nearly half of companies (49%), this effort contributes to a broader strategy of differentiation which puts personalization via digital channels at the forefront. Nearly half of companies (47%) also show how adaptation of their internal teams will align with customer experience initiatives as they build more meaningful, trusting relationships with customers, predominantly through digital channels. (Three data points have been excluded from the chart; they will appear in the final report.)
In our upcoming report, we explore how dynamic technologies provide new opportunities for these companies. We identify opportunities to create personalized, frictionless buying experiences and create trusted relationships between their customers and brands. We'll benchmark existing transformative measures and explore how companies are preparing and executing strategies for technology adoption. Finally, we'll evaluate how key areas of business—such as product offerings, promotions, inventory controls, and interconnected business entities—will transform leading into the 2020 fiscal year.
The report will be available for free download on November 11, 2019. Access this and our other reports here.
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