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.
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
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.
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!