Journey to 2018: Surfing the B2B Tsunami
As the 3rd Digital Revolution ensues organizations can no longer ignore the warning signs, we estimate that businesses have around two years to prepare, adapting their core processes and culture to thrive in a world of digitalization.
Described by Forrester as a “tsunami”*, the revolution has its roots outside of the business world, namely in our personal use of technology. With IT in the home having rapidly outstripped that of the workplace, both in terms of power and accessibility, employee expectations of technology are substantially higher than businesses have historically offered. This B2C earthquake is at the heart of the shake-up, forcing an increase in IT spending as organizations scramble to meet the demands of both their workforce and their customers.
But the B2B Tsunami is about more than equipping employees with faster laptops or the latest smartphones. Digital transformation will cut through to fundamental components of the organization. Crucial to riding this wave of technology will be building up the relationship between your organization and your customers to transform the product life-cycle from a multi-year process to one of continuous development.
Relying on the Connected Customer, businesses will have access to a new data lifecycle, receiving information from a number of digital platforms (including smartphones and Internet-of-Things connected devices). Organizations will be able to exploit the huge volumes of data to develop real insights which can then be used to offer more personalized - and attractive – products and/or services for customers.
This new and hugely expanded data lifecycle is the next great competitive advantage. But it comes at a cost; organizations will need to reinvent the way they scrutinise their information, placing an emphasis on context in order to fully understand the raw data.
This is where Innovation Value Webs will emerge, facilitating this deeper insight through a trusted network of peers sharing a communal pool of open data.
Of course, gaining this context is something of a challenge and opens up the complex issue of data privacy.
Unfortunately, in the B2B race to innovate, citizens can quickly lose control of how their data is used (or abused). However, ethical businesses are looking to fix this: the Green Button Initiative is a perfect example. Led from the US and adopted so far by over 35 utility companies, the scheme enables consumers to transparently define which utility providers their consumption data can be shared between. Should a company have the right personal data protection principles in place (through certification or regular auditing) consumers will be more comfortable to share their data, leading to a more tailored service in which a trusted relationship is intrinsic.
As data becomes increasingly important, and consumers begin to understand the value of their data, the question of privacy will continue to rise up the agenda. Organizations will need to become increasingly savvy in the way they gather, share and use these insights.
*“If B2C is the earthquake, [then] B2B is the tsunami that follows” - ‘Embrace Software as Your Brand’, May 5th 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. Forum for Technology Management Leaders.