« Ok everyone, become a couch potato! | Main | The future of TV is here, and the picture is brighter than ever »

June 29, 2012

B2B must smell the digital transformation coffee

Posted by Komal Jain (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:37 AM

brew coffee.jpg
Remember the comparison between radio, which took 38 years to reach 50 million users, the Internet that did it in 4, and Facebook, which took less than half that time? Impressive as they are, there's a lot more to digital evolution than just numbers. Actually, 'transformation' is a better word to describe the metamorphosis of the Internet from a channel of information to a medium of social hyper-connectivity. 

Less visible, but equally important, is the way that companies have adapted their behavior to leverage every new possibility that digital transformation has to offer.  This has largely been seen as a B2C blockbuster, starring retail, telecom and Internet firms, which have pulled ahead of other industries in online engagement. B2B firms have stayed away or sat on the fence, with the view that online, and particularly social media has nothing to offer to them. 

They couldn't be more wrong. Let me give you the example of a leader in the semiconductor business - which is as B2B as it gets - and its strategic usage of online media. The company had a long tail of customers mainly in the manufacturing and innovation hubs of South East Asia.  While the company did not find it viable to dedicate a sales and service force to these customers, who brought in just a fraction of revenues, it knew that they were strategically important - one, because some of these small firms were working on cutting edge innovation and two, because they were located in some of the world's most exciting markets. 

The company hit upon a solution in the form of an online channel where customers could share their experiences and air their problems, which would invariably be resolved by other members of the network who had faced similar issues in the past. It was a win-win for all that took little time and money to achieve. 

Are other B2B businesses taking notice?

Comments

Was this online channel visible to the public?

As a B2B marketer, I'm wondering which channel the firm used, was it a dedicated B2B online social media channel or the semiconductor firm's own platform?

Dear Sir,

I am afraid I do not share your point of view.

I have been managing disruptive technologies for the last 15 years and revolutions, often end up being evolutions.

Take e-Commerce, I remember telling all my friends in the late 90's that travel agents will just vanish. Today, they are struggling, but it took a decade.

I believe you are right in the sense that the traditional 2 tier distribution model will change, but it will take time.

I do agree that any business not adding value in the chain & living off an exclusive contract, will struggle very soon.

Of-course, its a must have channel for B2B. Look at GE, Intel, IBM all of them are doing a good job of engaging influencers through SM channels. The influencers and decision makers are on Social Media, it is important that B2B firms have a presence too and engage these audience.

@Marie-Claire Gallagher - Yes, The online channel was visible to public. Given that this is a fast evolving space,the company choose to use its own channel for this purpose.
Apart from greater control, It also helped them to
1. Quickly to their end customer needs
2. Do Trend analysis on any recurring issues and incorporate in future relates
3. Identify new product ideas that may meet their customer needs.

@ Steven Coltman - I agree that some of these changes will take time. What is important to note is that a lot of companies still see Social Media as primarily a B2C phenomenon.

While the speed of adoption was certainly very fast in B2C space, it is important for companies in B2B space to start exploring this for their own good. The new generation of customers are looking at faster response time, right information to be readily available and easy to consume. If the companies are not ready , then they are just not leveraging a avenue that can help them drive customer loyalty and greater revenues.

@Shiva Kumar-Thanks for your note.
Some of the names that you mentioned are already leaders in their own industry and have been known for innovation for years. They are no doubt the leaders in leveraging social media as well. One of the other elements that would be interesting to see is how other companies with limited resources leverage social media to service new markets/geographies which they were not able to service earlier.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Please key in the two words you see in the box to validate your identity as an authentic user and reduce spam.

Search InfyTalk

+1 and Like InfyTalk

Subscribe to InfyTalk feed

InfyTalk VBlogs: Watch Now

Infosys on Twitter