— October 29, 2018
A hot buzzword during the past couple of years has been digital transformation. It has branched off a few more in the world of marketing and sales:
Customer Engagement Transformation
I am sure there are more. At the risk of being a buzz killer, there is something amiss about all of this that may not be that great. Much of these have to do with internal processes within marketing and sales. The emphasis is on becoming more digitally efficient with one’s marketing and sales efforts as a means of connecting with customers.
2020 Looms Ahead
The focus on transforming marketing, sales, customer experience, and etc. is the right thing to do. A question which businesses undergoing such efforts should answer, however, is: Will our transformation help us to align with customers and buyers? Many will answer yes. And, they will be right to a certain degree. Changes that allow organizations to be more efficient at communicating with customers is inherent in such transformation efforts.
Transformation is being driven by rapid changes in buying behaviors. Online research and experiences have become the most prominent forms of behaviors that transformation initiatives are responding to. With efforts designed to enable engaging with customers online and digitally.
Addressing buyer behavioral changes through the aforementioned transformation initiatives is a must for all organizations as we head towards 2020.
As 2020 looms ahead, there may be a transformation effort that is far more important to understand.
The Buyer Transformation
With 2020 on the horizon, buyers are involved in their own transformations. Transformation on many fronts that will raise the bar for many B2B organizations to meet when pursuing customers and buyers. What are areas of transformation occurring on the buyer side that B2B organizations need to be aware of as we head towards 2020? Here are just a few observations gathered from conducting buyer interviews while engaged in buyer insights research and buyer persona development for organizations over the past two years:
Supply Chain: After a slow start, supply chain technology is rapidly transforming. High expectations are forming for seamless integration into digitally transformed supply chain management.
Procurement: In a survey by Procurement Leaders, over 80% of procurement departments are undergoing some form of transformation. Introducing new technologies to make the procuring of goods and supplies more efficient, less costly, and truly “just-in-time.”
Data: Buyers are increasingly reliant on and building predictive data operations to help with their decision-making. Data operations are expanding and helping with all forms of decision-making. Whether they be market-based, production-based, or operations-based decisions. Look for an increasing number of Data Scientist building user-friendly decision-models for buyers to use.
Decision Networks: In a previous article, I mention how buyers are on a quest to fulfill a need. One way this is happening is the “buying team” is giving way to “decision networks.” Decision networks are linked digitally and can respond to making decisions in a rapid manner. This is rapid decision making among a network of stakeholders who are invested in getting a resolution or in acquiring services or solutions. Think of this as a “network quest” to get an answer. The “decision network” finds the buying team process unnecessary, geographically impractical, and cumbersome.
Accounting/Finance: The field of accounting and finance are experiencing tremendous transformation as the digital commerce world evolves. More and more companies are moving accounting and finance operations to the digital cloud. Once an area met with high resistance, this transformation is now seen as a competitive must-have in order to cut cost and create efficiencies.
Workforce: How people work and communicate are changing drastically. Propelled by digital technology and flattening hierarchies, the workforce is changing in substance and skillsets. Millennials will increasingly make up a higher percentage of the workforce and have new expectations.
Innovations: Buyers now have dedicated teams whose purpose is to scout the marketplace for innovative outsourcing, market trends, product trends, service trends, and workforce trends. The aim is on how to creatively innovate and improve the entity for the future and how to transform certain areas of business operations.
These are several areas of transformations taking place in the world of buyers. While addressing changes in buying behavior related to online research and content is a necessity, it is not the only addressing that needs to happen. The forces of Buyer Transformation listed above mean new expectations for B2B organizations to meet.
Addressing Buyer Transformation
B2B organizations today will need to thoroughly understand, gain insights on, and adapt to Buyer Transformation. While transformation in Martech or sales will improve organizational capabilities, not addressing the forces of Buyer Transformation can put an organization in a non-competitive position come 2020 and beyond.
This is especially true for organizations that are burdened with extensive unyielding legacy systems. Severely limiting an organization’s ability to adapt to a digital world of commerce. As more millennials in buyer capacities move up the career ladder, the tolerance level to accept the limitations of legacy systems will wane.
To be prepared for 2020 and beyond, sincere efforts in reaching a deeper understanding of Buyer Transformation will need to become a priority. Not addressing Buyer Transformation in 2019 will create a gap between organizations and buyers that will be hard to fill come 2020.