Have You Opened the Door to Your Competitors?

You are a successful B2B manufacturer or distributor with operations in the Americas, EMEA and APAC.  Each region has varying levels of business maturity and competing priorities and the CEO is now expecting quick and efficient expansion into new customer, product, and geographical markets, all while applying downward pressure on your budgets. Does this sound familiar?

The problem is that, as you have grown and expanded globally, you have amassed two or more of everything operationally.  Many of those solutions are not optimal, even within their respective region or silo.  They use non-scalable, manual processes and technology solutions to address specific localized business needs in a single channel.  On top of that, the implementations do not ensure cross-channel parity or enough flexibility to support future or global business requirements.

As a result, you find yourself with a set of processes, organizations, and technologies, which are inconsistent, unsustainable, fragmented and redundant.  Your brands and products are not presented consistently, or even at all, in some marketplaces.  You cannot measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns or have a compelling social dialog with your customers and, because you have not kept pace with customer expectations, your customer satisfaction scores are falling.  Essentially, you are asking your customers during each interaction with you to compensate for the issues you have not addressed yourself.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that your customers and marketplace fueled by technology innovation are also continuously raising the bar.  A few trends to note:

  • B2B customers now expect a B2C like customer experience.  Commerce should be conducted in a guided sales/solution based model that presents personalized, contextually relevant, and localized content consistently across all channels and customer touch points.  Operationally, customers expect immediate responses to service requests and accurate order shipping times.  They expect to start service interactions in one channel and seamlessly continue them another.
  • The marketplace has an increasing number of customer touch points that you have to manage, monitor, engage customers through, and marshal information to and from.  In the US alone, more than 100MM consumers own two or more devices connected to the Internet, and 60% of this group have three or more devices.  This new marketplace requires a global foundational company and brand presence with regional variants.  Many of your customers are global and they want to deal with you on the same basis.  Some will even exploit the inefficiencies in your regional operations.

If part, or all, of this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone.  Many businesses have found themselves in the same situation.  Given that customer preference and loyalty, along with a sustainable company and brand differentiation are the result of a series of positive and beneficial customer experiences over time, it is critical to address these issues.  Left unaddressed, these issues open the door to your competitors.

If these issues remain unchanged, nimble competitors will come through that open door and attempt to better address your customers’ needs.  Leveraging digital capabilities that provide them a competitive advantage, they will respond faster to changing market conditions with innovative and targeted offerings at lower price points.  They will deliver consistent, compelling customer experiences and develop actionable insights from their customer interactions, which will foster stronger relationships.  Overtime, customer preference will shift from your company, brand, or product to the competition.

So how should you close that door?  How do you identify what should be done and in what manner it should be accomplished?  How do you overcome the organizational inertia that resists change and focuses on the next tactical priority?  You start by establishing a Digital Strategy.  This effort will:

  • Obtain organizational agreement on your current state and the potential risks and results of staying on the current course.
  • Identify and prioritize common key digital capabilities required to achieve your strategic business goals and to address current state deficiencies.
  • Decide upon both program and project level implementation and governance approaches
  • Define a roadmap with high-level ROI, costs, and timelines co-opting as many existing projects and as much funding as possible.
  • Establish a “Burning Platform” within your organization to drive action, ownership, funding, and executive support.

To address these issues, there are several digital capabilities to consider leveraging.  These include:

  • Product Content Management (PCM) eliminates inconsistencies in product content and digital assets, while facilitating the creation and delivery of that content across all distribution channels, languages, and markets.  More sophisticated PCM solutions enable product content to be complimented with user generated content (e.g. reviews, troubleshooting, & usage tips).
  • Business Process Management (BPM) focuses an organization on the needs of its customers across all touch-points while continuously optimizes internal & external processes.  BPM is proven to increase customer satisfaction scores, improve product quality, reduce costs, and shorten time-to-market.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) facilitates effective and efficient interactions with current and prospective customers across all channels.  It synchronizes sales, marketing, and support activities that nurture new, improve existing, and reclaim lost customer relationships.
  • Web Content Management (WCM) enables organizations to consistently present their brands globally in a localized fashion and to efficiently administer and publish content across all channels to increase user engagement and boost sales & profits with minimal IT involvement.

These capabilities should be defined and deployed as common global solutions that provide appropriate levels of regional configurability and localization. Additionally, each implementation should place into service all required processes, organizations, and technologies in order for them to be sustainable.  Once implemented and in concert, these capabilities will close the door which has been left open by your current inefficiencies and produce real demonstrable business value.

About scottlunsford

Director Digital Strategy at Acquity Group

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