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Transforming B2B businesses - How to face the challenge

2019, 01, 29

Loraine Nijhuis

Every organization is unique, but when it comes to B2B transformation, most of the organization face the same problems such as the legacy is huge, the management team is not ready and so on. I can think of a hundred excuses I heard over the last few years. Point is; to become and stay future-proof in a digital technology driven economy, you have to transform!

Working at a digital agency for business performance keeps you up to date with the latest and greatest, new trends and mind blowing developments. We use this knowledge and our experience to keep our existing clients at the top and to guide or new clients to new heights, whatever the business challenge is. But, let’s be honest, knowhow on it’s own is not enough to get business going and to help transforming the biggest companies in the world. So, what is our approach? Our guiding philosophy?

Growth in a 5 step approach

1. Bring focus, define the top of your mountain
Whatever the challenge is, the starting point is the same. What is the ultimate goal you see the company at in 1 to 3 years? What is the highest mountain top you want to reach? Defining your ultimate business goal brings focus. A focus that is much needed when it comes to transforming your company and make sure you do not derail along the way.
It is also important to add the why, why are you focussing on this goal? Maybe your industry is rapidly developing into a digital driven environment, maybe your processes are outdated and in a real need of improving or even replacing, or maybe you just want to know your customers better.
After defining your business goal, make sure you create KPI’s that can determine when it is a success. These KPI’s are the drivers that can be measured in a later stage and give an idea of the performance.

2. How mature is your organization?
Once the dot on the horizon is set, it is important to look internally. Is your organization already mature enough to reach that mountain top? Or do you need to practice with smaller mountains instead of a first attempt at reaching the top of Mount Everest? Does basecamp need updating?
Step two is therefore to check your digital maturity levels. These concern not only your marketing activities or technology you use. It also entails matters such as culture, organization and data. Analyzing all these different aspects that determine how digital mature an organization is will give you insights in what is going well and what needs to be your number 1 priority. It will break all of the silo’s that exist in, almost, every business and will make sure to shine a light on the interconnectedness of it all.

So it getting everyone on board is extremely important, whatever the size of the company and yes, all of the silo’s. I know it is a challenge on it’s own just to get a mutual understanding. But without it, transforming is pointless.

Does it mean the silo’s should be abolished? No, of course not. It means they need to be aligned by breaking down the walls. Put all important stakeholders at the table whatever silo they represent. It can be hard to do this internally, so bringing in the muscles from the outside could benefit the process. It helps to make sure everyone is aligned and that all individual silo goals are merged into the same focus. It also helps to have external resources because they are not binded to the company and politically have no agenda. They are there to get you to that ultimate goal, no matter what. Start at the top and work down to the bottom.
You could also be aiming for an agile organization with squads consisting out of different expertises, but that is a whole other story.

For example, you have the best marketing automation tooling in place with great content that’s being sent to your target audience. You have a whole team of data analysts that measure every bit of performance. But still no great results. Turns out there is no clear digital strategy in place. Your employees do not know to which result they should contribute to and therefore all efforts taken are not steered towards one common goal.

3. Strategy & Roadmap
Without a strategic vision and focus you’re nowhere. You’ll keep floating. Without a roadmap a strategy alone is too vague. Once you know what you want to achieve based on your ultimate business goal and know what your digital maturity level is, you have the basis of setting up your strategy & roadmap to make sure you reach that goal in the right way.
Defining your strategy is a very important but often neglected part of digital success. Without strategy there is confusion. There will be no direction and at the end of the year you will have no idea how all your efforts have contributed to the common business goal. But a strategy alone will not get you there. You need an expedition plan, a roadmap that defines all the steps needed to be taken to reach the top of that mountain. Because without structure there is chaos and no way you’ll reach that peak then.
Transforming the business always is a time consuming and difficult process. Defining the roadmap and milestones therefore is important to keep everyone on track and manage projects, budgets updates, stakeholders, etcetera on time. It also helps you to understand the scale of the transformation and who should be part of the team per project or milestone. Besides the organizational pro, it also helps to scope projects better. What systems need replacing or updating, what process is so bad it should be designed all over? Is it necessary to implement a certain A+ level system as SAP or Salesforce, or is a data layer on top of the existing enough? I know it is a lot, but believe me, it is definitely worth it.

4. Organise and implement

Now, what happens after these first steps?
Start implementing projects, deliver milestones and eventually the complete roadmap. This might sound easy enough, but is often the most difficult of them all. It is easy to lose track of the trail you were walking on. Make sure you sometimes take a step back to observe if you can still see that mountain peak or if you’re heading in the wrong direction. Make sure to celebrate the hurdles taken along the way, but also get everyone back on track if things don’t turn out as expected.

But how do you know if it is a success? Remember step 1? Where we defined a goal? I also said that it is important to have KPI’s that drive the transformation and gives you insight on the performance. This is the time to bring in the data approach.

5. The data approach
Whether it is to get to know your customers, truly. Or to measure online performance or whatever other KPI is important. We need data! Data science is not rocket science, it is just science. With a proper data implementation you are able to measure everything.
To visualize the data, incorporate real time dashboards. The dashboard offer a clear overview of what is going on, how you perform based on the KPI’s and where to improve based on the visible insights. Of course you can go digging into your analytics tool or perform SQL queries yourself. But real time dashboards only show you what is relevant. All the information you need to stay on track. Literally showing you what switch to pull to reach the goal you set in step 1. Does it mean you should hire data scientists? No, not really. The dashboards give you all the input you need to fully focus on thriving results.

Measure, optimize and a never ending loop

Finally, use the data and it’s insights to continuously optimize the business! You are not done once the top is achieved, there will be new challenges, new goals, things that need optimizing based on learning, etcetera. You are never done learning! Or as Buzz Lightyear said: To infinity and beyond!

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