A survey on the digital maturity of B2B companies has resumed – and has registered very little progress. Here is where you can read about why less-digitalised companies will have a more and more difficult experience in future.
Digital maturity level hardly any better
For the second time now, the auditing firm KPMG, in collaboration with Professor Dr Rainer Elste from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, has developed the Digitalisierungsindex in Marketing und Vertrieb (German), which aims to showcase the digital maturity of B2B companies. For the first survey in 2019, there was a host of B2B companies still doing business in a largely analogue manner. Since then, it seems that only very little progress has been made. The digitalisation in marketing and sales has increased only sparingly up to the year 2021. Particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are behind when it comes to developing and implementing a digitalisation strategy.
All in all, German companies boosted their digital maturity in marketing and sales by an average of just 4 percentage points compared to 2019. The Digitalisation Index climbed from 0.49 to 0.53. An index of one would mean that a company is fully digitalised. Especially taking into account the push towards digitalisation caused by Covid mandates, this increase is extremely low.
Also noticeable was a discrepancy between strongly and less strongly digitalised companies regarding their economic success. Digitally mature businesses have been shown to be crisis-proof, with stronger sales and heightened profitability. This has enabled them, according to the survey, to more easily finance strategically important growth initiatives and set themselves apart from the analogue-based companies even more significantly. The gap is increasingly getting wider.
Wasted potential when communicating with customers
Relatively advanced amongst the companies surveyed seem to be back-office processes such as invoicing. Here is where digitalisation is firmly in place today. But there is catching up to do, mainly in communicating with customers, which, in many cases, takes place in the same way as many decades ago. Alternatives like contact via social media, webinars, digital trade shows or launches are still not established. However, the salesforce is increasingly integrating digital tools such as video communication, sales bots and online shops into their sales talks.
Recommendations for action in four dimensions
Four dimensions were determined for the survey which can be seen as drivers of digitalisation in marketing and sales:
- Digital capabilities: digital thinking, skills and conditions
- Processes: degree of digitalisation of the customer journey
- Tools: use of digital tools and systems
- Digital performance: noticeable benefits of digitalisation
For each of these drivers, the survey’s authors have identified concrete actions recommended for companies to increase their digital maturity. Here is an overview of three relevant approaches for each:
- View digitalisation projects as an investment in the future viability of your company.
- Transfer goals into suitable KPIs that can be measured transparently and operatively, and which truly contribute to monitoring and incentivising. The use of intelligent dashboards and clear visualisations can support this.
- Use agile collaboration models such as Scrum or SAFe, and ensure flexibility, transparency and customer-centricity in your organisation despite rapidly changing conditions.
- Arrange the acquisition of new customers according to clear rules and scalable processes. Discover alternative digital forms – for instance, in-person trade shows will most likely not have the same value as before the Covid mandates.
- Go for customer-centric approaches such as buyer personas, buyer journeys or jobs-to-be-done methods, with the aim to make your processes cater better to the target groups.
- Leverage virtual communication for increasing efficiency (reducing travels), thus freeing up availability for other tasks in your sales team.
- Ensure you are in the minds of potential customers early on in the evaluation process. Having a digital appearance, as well as search engine optimisation, serve as important measures in this case.
- Collect customer data in a legally conform way at all touchpoints along the customer journey, and pay attention to both an efficient processing as well as a targeted use of it to give your customers added value.
- Use technological support for standard queries to quickly lead customers to the desired solution (e.g. via a product finder or configurator) and to provide customised, competent and personal support for facing complex challenges.
- Develop new digital business models and sources of income (e.g. via new digital price models such as pay-per-use or dynamic pricing).
- Identify collaborative ecosystem partners for building up and reinforcing joint business models, with the aim to increase your market presence, the number of scaling options, and the speed and degree of innovation.
- Prioritise projects for transparency of marketing and sales ROI, in order to generate reliable figures across channels and to show management the value of your team’s contribution.