Random Acts of Digital Are Holding You Back: 4 Key Takeaways From B2B Online

While connections between digital systems are critical, the reality is most companies struggle with disconnected and detached platforms. The result: Leaders have difficulty getting accurate insight into business operations and performance metrics. In essence, these random acts of digital are making it difficult to transform business operations and optimize the customer experience.

Ryan Maguire, CTO, AI at Solstice and Kami Kris, COO at Loop Integration sought a deeper perspective on this subject and the recent B2B Online conference in Chicago offered an ideal opportunity. At a private lunch, they sat down with Eric Rehl, Director of Digital Business at Rockwell Automation and Melissa Ebbens, Product Manager at Trek Bicycle Corporation, to gather some insight and guidance on how to unify today’s disconnected digital platforms. Following are some key takeaways from that discussion.

 

1) Get key stakeholders on board

With multiple systems and databases spread across the enterprise, finding a way to efficiently unify them is no easy task. A good first step is to find common ground with internal stakeholders and begin getting senior leadership onboard. Start to build the case on the need to consolidate disconnected assets, emphasizing the importance of digital unification in creating the best customer experience possible.

Success in the digital age comes down to connectivity, accessibility and at the end of the day, ease of use. It's all about seamless journeys. It may be difficult for executives not as close to the situation to fully understand all of the capabilities that are diminished by disparate systems. When experiences work “well enough,” the mentality of “nothing is broke so why fix it” begins to sets in. But the need today is more pressing — it’s about the changing tide of expectations, transforming business processes, and elevating the customer experience.    

 

2) Stay open to possibilities

When you embark on a digital transformation journey, keep an open mind to what changes may occur in your business processes. Both Rockwell and Trek found that they were underserving the needs of their third parties and needed to align their digital strategy to them. In doing so, what often happens are new opportunities emerge that you may not have anticipated, but that can be advantageous to your business.

Case in point: When Trek built its B2C site it realized that it was offering more information and content to its consumers than its storefront partners. This caused an issue when that customer would eventually go to a store and ask about some of this information. However, the store agent was unequipped because the company’s digital tools hadn’t been transformed along with the customer.

For Rockwell, its main delivery channel is through its distributors. While building tools for its customers, the company realized after a period of time that there is an important role that their distributors play within the customer fulfillment process in a digital world. This led them to rethink the role their distributors play in the digital journey, creating more opportunities for point-to-point integrations to help ease the digital customer’s journey.

 

3) Follow a plan

Establishing a foundation and having a rollout strategy is vital to success. Ensure that there are clear and constant messages about the digital product to internal and external customers and personnel. Check inventory on your existing data assets and technologies. It may seem elementary, but it’s important to know what technology platforms you have in place and how they impact the customer and their experience with your company.

Both Rockwell and Trek identified internal and external communication as one of the key elements for success. The lesson: continue to communicate and spread your digital transformation story and journey, even when you think people don’t need to know.

 

4) Be iterative with your journey

You won't deliver it all at once, so build upon the delivery velocity. Also, seek a business outcome and not a foundation capability, as that will help you stay aligned to the core of the business. Also, be sure to link the digital transformation to a business outcome.

It’s important to understand that digital transformation is more than a new product; it’s a cultural transformation. Part of this process involves working together to build an internal team and engaging  with an external vendor to assess goals and measure progress. Examine your company’s operational processes and figure out what digital unification efforts you are already implementing and where your biggest needs are. Then apply that knowledge to help accelerate your digital transformation journey.

 

While it’s important to consolidate as many platforms as possible as part of this comprehensive effort, keep in mind that at the heart of any connected digital strategy is the customer.