Pandemic and B2B digital transformation: will you be able to take advantage of it?

Claude Malaison – 15 May 2020

What is important to you and your business in these times of confinement and gradual return to business? In the previous post, Lynda St-Arneault insisted on not killing your marketing. Will you be able to use this pandemic to carry out your digital transformation?

Or just to wait for the return to normal? Managing the daily grind: crisis management, lack of cash and even staff? Certainly legitimate concerns in a pre-2020 world.

But in the current circumstances, there is also a generational opportunity to seize. In the sense that this occasion is an opportunity that we will not see again anytime soon. It is to choose to adapt to the fundamental changes that are taking place before our eyes. The economy and society will never be the same again. You might as well anticipate and get in tune.

And what tune are we talking about here?

New ways of working and producing as well as consumption. And new business-to-business relationships are more distanced and virtual… The corporate watchdog McKinsey talks about “The rise of the contact-free economy.”

Uses that will crystallize around new technologies of remote communication (Video-conferences, tele-work on platforms such as Zoom or Whereby), market analysis (artificial intelligence), customer relations (Automation, chatbots) and also production (physical and social distance) and delivery (at your door but without contact).

The opportunity to be seized in B2B is similar to that of e-commerce in B2C. Prior to COVID-19, the emphasis was on the customer experience, on the “buyers journey”, automation, on experiential marketing. In such a short time, everything changed.

The pandemic has highlighted the harsh reality of the lack of preparedness of companies in the face of increasing demand from consumers and also customers and suppliers for an experience not based on itself but, on the speed and efficiency of the relationship and especially, of delivery…

Do I have to draw a picture here? In Quebec, what matters now is production and delivery. The production chain becomes an essential service. Delivery becomes essential but must be contactless and if possible pre-paid and in B2B as elsewhere, we will use drones and autonomous vehicles in the future.

And this is as valid in B2B as in B2C…

Online shopping is becoming more and more important. Indeed, there are increases that exceed 30 or 40%. But what is most important is not experience but accessibility. Customers and suppliers want, yes, an ease in browsing the Web and in the service proposal, but beyond these considerations, they want a QUICKLY accessible offer.

Remember the bad buying experiences at the beginning of your lockdown at your favorite grocery store? Virtual queues? Yes, we can talk about bad experiences for the client, but the frustration is waiting, and the lack of preparation.

Many have hit the wall of supply vs. demand on the web in these times of pandemic. The same applies to the essential businesses that have remained open but, what about the others that have closed their doors temporarily?

Confinement and digital transformation in B2B

In B2B e-commerce, the challenge is the same. In times of confinement, the sinews of war will be to synchronize automated, experiential and AI-assisted marketing with supply chain challenges.

Also, confinement will gradually open the door to what is called digital transformation of marketing and business. No choice to go digital… And that doesn’t just mean creating a new transactional website.

This involves the complete transformation of internal business processes and I mean ALL processes. A major overhaul based on a new corporate strategy. It is here and now that the old and the new world for business meet.

Their ability to adapt and transform will depend on their survival. And marketing in all its forms has an important role to play. It is one of the important cogs in the internal and external processes of companies. Hence the call not to kill,  especially not in these difficult times.

It is more important than ever to rethink it in light of the current experiences between corporate clients and suppliers. And more than ever, they will be open to proposals for marketing transformation and digital transformation in general.

Can you seize the opportunity?

To grasp it, we must first define what digital transformation is. Easy to talk about technological tools and artificial intelligence but for companies, in practice, what does it mean to transform digitally?

To find out, keep an eye on our next blog. We will ask this question to several international experts who will offer some insight on this. And we will also inaugurate a new section on our website, entirely dedicated to this trend that has become a reality.

And don’t forget that as a member of the NextBlue Alliance, a group of companies offering solutions based on IBM’s Acoustic Artificial Intelligence (IBM Watson), ExoB2B is well positioned to assist your business in your digital shift. Contact us!

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