While digital transformation is a frequently used buzzword, the use of digital technologies to keep an organization relevant in the modern economy is not a made-up trend. Digitization is real, it’s happening now — and it’s happening fast, resulting in many organizations scrambling to enhance their IT capabilities.
With increasing momentum, digital transformation has been taking hold of the B2B manufacturing world as well. Just as other industries were shaken by digital disruption before, the manufacturing sector has also been experiencing a profound digital transformation for quite some time. With change taking place so quickly, it's no surprise that it's almost impossible for companies to catch up, given B2B's manufacturing's digital deficits.
Antiquated system and process landscapes along with sometimes dramatic changes to customer behavior, technologies, and competition are just some of the current challenges manufacturers are facing. In addition, the industry is characterized by particular complexities resulting from business models built up over decades as well as a multi-layered interplay of partners, departments, and users. In view of these circumstances, it’s understandable that setting the course for the future while maintaining a strong customer focus at the same time is perceived by some organizations as a monumental task.
But the good news is: while appearing to be almost insurmountable at first, the task at hand is entirely achievable. The key to a successful digital transformation is developing a viable and robust roadmap that outlines the organization's digital customer strategy.
To support B2B manufacturers in systematically developing such a strategy and gradually unlocking the opportunities of digitization, B2B manufacturers should check out the three-step guide we have developed and published in the whitepaper "Developing a Digital Customer Strategy for B2B – Checklist and Step-by-Step Guide for Manufacturers".
At the heart of the guide is the knowledge that customer satisfaction is a key success factor for the success of B2B manufacturers. Accordingly, a digital customer strategy should always be seen as a result of teamwork. Equally important, it takes into account the organization's omnichannel experiences as well as the entire life cycle of its products and services. This point cannot be stressed enough, especially given the fact that a lot of B2B manufacturers do not use such a holistic approach but devise separate customer strategies for marketing, sales and customer service.
Developing Your Digital Customer Strategy in Three Steps
The three steps of our guide represent specific maturity stages of B2B companies. While they may serve as a roadmap that you can work through in sequence, it is important to understand that each of the steps represents a significant maturity stage of a digital experience. And each experience stage needs to be reinforced with concrete objectives, KPIs, frameworks and customer journeys. In total, the three stages will add up to a comprehensive digital strategy.
Here’s a quick look at the three steps:
- Creating Digital Self-Service Experiences as a Foundation for Your Digital Ecosystem: Customer expectations have completely changed. In this stage, you should aim to focus on your customers’ needs and offer them digital self-service experiences. Also, it’s very important to reach this stage, the de facto market standard, as quickly as possible.
- Use Intelligent Omnichannel Features To Roll Out Digital Processes Across the Entire Organization: The second step takes a more holistic approach on digitization. Instead of relying only on selected channels, the goal is a full-fledged omnichannel approach. This requires harmonizing an organization's internal processes to form one “unified user experience”. Successfully completing this step allows you to profit from the growth opportunities and the edge in efficiency that going digital affords your company.
- Create Innovative B2B Experiences and Become a Digital Company: After completing the first two stages, you will be able to further develop digital experiences quickly and in an agile manner. In this stage it's time to be visionary, as increasingly intelligent digital processes, fueled by AI, IoT or Data Science, make your employees and customers ready for growth.
Digital Strategy Checklist
To help B2B manufacturers navigate the three-steps, the white paper also includes an 8-point checklist that serves as a helpful guide and assists you in developing a digital customer strategy. In going through the checklist and answering queries on the “Discovery” (incl. identifying experiences), “Assessment” (incl. evaluating the organization's digital maturity) and “Action” (expanding the digital strategy) phases, you’ll get a clear picture of your efforts and the areas that need the most work. In addition, the checklist will also help you to evaluate the quality of your measures and ensure that all required actions are taken.
The complete whitepaper, "Developing a Digital Customer Strategy for B2B – Checklist and Step-by-Step Guide for Manufacturers" can be found at this link.
A Better Customer Experience – With a Digital Experience Platform
Customer journeys of B2B manufacturers are characterized by a large number of experiences, which regularly draw on a large number of data sources and software systems.
In order to successfully present these experiences consistently and in one single source of truth (your website!), you need a platform which merges a wide variety of data sources into a single user experience. Enter digital experience platforms (DXP)!
DXPs help you align your digital strategy with your digital experiences, thereby forming the heart of your digital strategy. The open source-based Liferay DXP is one of the leading and most popular DXPs for B2B manufacturers worldwide. As the only system of its kind, Liferay DXP has been continuously ranked as a Leader at the top of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for DXPs for 11 years. Liferay supports B2B organizations by working within their existing business processes and by enabling them to create seamless user experiences that uniquely meet their needs.