Within many businesses, technology, whether you call it IT or digital, is absolutely intrinsic to the business itself. Digital is often a transactional channel in itself, with its own P&L.
Perhaps this is obvious in a business-to-customer environment (B2C), but what about in a business-to-business (B2B)?
Some “traditional” businesses (and I am thinking about manufacturing or distribution as I write this, where you are a part of the supply chain) may IT is seen as a back-room function, even slightly separate from the “real business” …supporting the business rather than an inseparable part of it.
Here are three areas where technology can provide business advantage in this context that you may not have considered.
- B2B eCommerce. This is the most obvious one, how can you supply your product and services to your clients electronically, getting the operational and efficiency benefits and stealing a march on your competition. Are there different scenarios and markets that you can access? Or new way of segmenting your customers, deciding how you work with them and how you invest your time to achieve the best business outcome?
- Adding value beyond the product itself. If you are manufacturing a ‘product’ chances are you compete on the basis of the product’s technical attributes or performance and price. You probably collect a whole load of data in your existing systems that produce that product. How can you use this data to develop new services for your customers? Services that provide some added value or advantage to your customers may make it less appealing to go somewhere else for a competing product, particularly if they become a part of your customer’s business process.
Use technology to enhance your brand. Say you make a product which is technologically advanced- perhaps part of your brand proposition is about modernity, innovation and a fresh approach. The way in which you engage and work with research partners and others in your supply chain can support and enhance that brand proposition. For example, using modern collaborative IT or digital solutions on research or joint-development projects from day 1 demonstrates modernity and innovation from the start, even before the innovation has been demonstrated in your end product. Branding this correctly will help enhance the experience or suggestion of lasting ‘partnership’.