We are bombarded by digital initiatives. We see companies born 100% digital in the B2C environment. We see companies reinvent their business and defy their competition in segments like fintech or insurance. Consultants are betting their future on moving companies to transform themselves through digital.
How can digital change a B2B business? How can a digital proposal become win-win for both companies in the value chain? What are the roadblocks that prevent this interaction from moving faster? To answer this question from the seller side, the first thing you need is to understand your customer. How your product is used, which are the features of your product that your customers appreciate the most. How is the complete customer journey in acquiring the product, using it, and achieving overall satisfaction?
From the buyer’s side, the procurement department will be measured by the negotiated price and delivery. The end user, however, will value more the overall performance of the product and the reduction in lead times and bureaucracy. The best product is the one that has the expected performance, and you don’t need to worry about it. Both companies will have a digital agenda. How can this dialogue move? First, you need to take the conversation to the highest level in both organizations. Set a multilayer agenda. Make sure that both parties can talk the same language.
From the selling side, you will need to drive a total cost of ownership proposal. Simplify processes, reduce risk, give full visibility, and reduce administrative work. From the customer side you should be open to analyzing the benefits of a long-term relationship against a spot transactional gain and give the proper space to the end user to evaluate the proposal. Is the proposal in line with your digital agenda in simplifying processes and improving internal performance?
The secret to success is trust. Build a meaningful technical proposition. Define KPIs to measure the value of digital integration reducing lead time, operational risk, overall inventories, and time to market. Give visibility of the achievements to top management. In Tenaris we are moving in this direction with our customers in the oil and gas Industry through our Rig Direct® Portal proposal. It takes time. But once you have a long-term contract in place, you can really appreciate the value of the relationship on both sides.
Next question is who should lead a digital transformation? Is it the CIO? Do you need to hire a chief digital officer? Or should the business lead?