The 3Cs influencing digitalization in the B2B and B2C worlds

Posted on: May 13, 2016 by Luc Barbier

In my last post I captured how digitalization is rippling through the B2B world after first impacting the B2C world, driven by consumer insights and data. Here I look at three over-arching trends from Ascent Look Out 2016+ which are impacting almost all markets in different and surprising ways.

Customer-centric thinking

Today’s connected consumer can easily access product data from anywhere and at any time on their mobile devices. It’s a two-way process where information is more accessible, with peer reviews and recommendations taking greater precedence, while consumers can also contribute to product information through social networks and communities. This continuous interaction allows businesses to serve the consumer in a more personalized manner. CPG companies now need to differentiate across local markets, listening to changing buying patterns and re-shaping their portfolio to be more effective in their category. Thomas Collins, Global Market Head of Consumer Packaged Goods at Atos, summarizes this trend elegantly:

"Brand manufacturers must be present at every step of the buying process, engaging consumers through relevant and inspiring content while they are both learning about the product online and experiencing it in the store.’’ – Thomas Collins

Convergence Continues

Engaging the end consumer started with the B2C world, but it’s now happening in the B2B world and will totally redefine B2B relationships. We’re seeing a virtuous circle where digital transformation is converging on both these worlds and rippling through adjacent industries.

For instance, big data can be used to make aeroplanes more efficient forecasting weather patterns and enabling faster turnaround times, or be valued for working with aerospace manufacturers who can use predictive maintenance to keep a plane’s overall down-time to an absolute minimum. Let’s take the airline and travel example further – showing how interlinked the B2B and B2C worlds really are. When you consider the consumer on a journey to another city, they take a trip to the airport using a pay-as-you go drive or shared service, backed up by a per-usage insurance system, they arrive at their shared flat rental and so on. Now you can visualize how the whole economy is converging along digital principles, enabled by intermediary multi-sided platforms.

The seemingly opposing forces of ‘maximizing process efficiency’ and ‘personalizing user experience’ present a complex business challenge. Understanding how to make them work together rather than against each other is critical. This requires operations and supply chains to be optimized for both B2B and B2C interactions, and adapting the underlying IT to cope with worlds working at different paces, while smoothly orchestrated.

Complexity Confuses

Starting a digital business from scratch is much easier, but when you are an established business, inertia inhibits your ability to find new types of services and revenue streams. Banks are a case in point, acutely feeling the effects of fintech web-based start-ups who have quickly developed a series of niches. Banks are having to keep and maintain their decades of investment in their legacy, but not in isolation. In response, it’s not possible to digitalize every part of your business immediately, so priority setting will be crucial for established organizations; some technologies are now mature and some others are maturing as we show in our tech trends radar. Institutionalising competitor market scans is also vital so you can stay ahead of emerging players and adopt multi-sided models.

These are a few thoughts to inspire your exploration of Ascent Look Out which our team is proud of. I urge you to read it as an input to your strategic thinking, dipping into its different chapters, absorbing the overall business context, the enabling technologies and the 20 sectors we have analyzed. It is a wonderful opportunity for us all to consider these trends through the prism of our customers – understanding what is at stake and how these digital themes intersect industries.

Over the next few weeks, my colleagues will discuss critical trends from Ascent Look Out at the intersection of technology, people and business so watch out for the next instalment of our insights!

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About Luc Barbier

Head of Portfolio, Innovation & Industry Analysts & Advisor Relations
Luc has a solid experience of the IT and telecommunication industry, coupled with specific industry/sector knowledge such as health, finance & brokerage, transport, chips & smart cards, payments. Luc spent his career in both small enterprises - consulting boutiques, brokerage firms - and large international giants. Luc joined the Atos Group in 1996 when Sema acquired his consulting firm, Devotech founded in 1992. He then held several management positions in strategic marketing and portfolio development, mostly in consulting and systems integration for Sema and then Atos Origin. Luc is today Senior Vice President, in charge of Portfolio, Innovation & Industry Analyst & Advisor Relations within Atos Sales & Marketing (previously GIBS, Global Innovation and Strategy that he joined in 2009). He is involved in numerous programs and projects, transforming Atos in its various dimensions. Luc is graduated from Ecole Polytechnique and Telecom Paris. Luc’s passions are movies, bridge and …tiramisu

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