“Technology is taking on an even more central role in the sales process, and chief sales officers (CSOs) need to get ahead of a series of innovations that will significantly disrupt sales strategy, engagement, pricing, and enablement.” - Gartner

In the business and technology realm, ‘disruptive’ has become a term connected with digital innovation and progress, rather than something negative that must be stopped. Disruption in terms of the digital transformation seems to be unstoppable whether we like it or not, and for most companies this type of fluid change is extremely positive. 

Five Digital Innovations Carrying B2B into the Future

Disruptive digital innovators provide new technology, products, and services–all marking significant potential for change in nearly any industry, as well as more specific B2B departments like sales, marketing, and billing. With the ability to transform the digital paradigm B2B companies have previously been accustomed to, disruptive innovators are behind a continually growing list of new consumer trends.

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Some great examples of relatively recent disruptors include online sellers like Amazon and streaming/subscription companies like Netflix. It can be hard to discern whether new business models prompt novel, disruptive technology solutions, or the other way around, but the following cannot be ignored for B2B companies:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is usually at the top of the list for digital innovators and expected disruptors of the future. Leveraging emotional AI for B2B companies seeking ways to advertise more powerfully means using research to understand consumers better and draw them into online ads more effectively. Generative AI has been on the rise for a while too, relying on different digital processes, analysis, and synthetic creativity to churn out everything from videos, text, and graphics to logos.

Companies like Netflix and Amazon are also using artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline a range of systems and processes, both to understand consumer preferences better and improve their experience overall.

  • Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) continue to ascend in importance as an emerging technology, playing a critical role in B2B digital disruption in accompaniment with the rise of the metaverse. The possibilities are undeniably infinite, with a whole new world to explore:
“By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels, which means sales organizations need to actively look for new ways to engage with customers,” relays Gartner

“AR and VR will likewise emerge as a key sales mechanism, and the advent of machine customers is expected to create an entirely new target market for sales organizations.”

  • Cloud computing has just begun to see its potential as a digital disruptor in B2B, adding power and agility to existing technology and expanding systems integration. Leveraging the cloud, SaaS solutions are tailored specifically to B2B companies, backed by comprehensive customer data and analytics, including elastic scaling and features like automatic updating. Enterprise systems can be customized and connected, including segments like marketing, sales, customer service, and eCommerce.
“IT leaders responsible for cloud strategy must understand their organization’s business strategy first, and then seek opportunities to leverage new and emerging cloud capabilities to accelerate that strategy,” states Gartner.
  • Composable commerce as a digital innovation strategy might sound complicated, but it really simplifies operations within a business. The composable commerce concept allows B2B companies to completely customize their technology and use a wide variety of applications–all while building out their front and back ends as desired, separately, providing the way for a tech stack that can be rearranged and reoriented as needed. Elements like headless CMS serve as an asset repository that organizes existing content then uses APIs to map that content to a specific digital platform, device, or display method. With a headless CMS, hosting and delivery live in the cloud, making it secure, flexible, and easily configurable.

This type of building block system is also centered around packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which are software features that act like micro- or macro-services for eCommerce elements like shopping, cart, and checkout.

  • Digital twins and digital humans represent a definitive move into the virtual world, both for delving further into the customer’s ‘persona’ and delegating duties to an online presence that takes on mundane transactional duties and chores like chasing down old leads. Employing the digital twin, B2B companies can study how different types of customers will react, relying on a digital model or system that can simulate behavior in a sales environment–or in another application, may assist in preventing manufacturing failure or help fine-tune planning. 

“Digital twins in oil and gas are emerging as the hub of next-generation digital asset operations. CIOs should develop modular architectures, integration skills and governance processes to make composite digital twins viable as enablers of business value,” states Gartner Research.

Digital humans can interact with customers, and represent a company brand. In connection with concepts like the metaverse, their impact on the future and in B2B transactions is expected to be extremely lucrative and give early implementers a competitive advantage.

It can be difficult to move past investments in technology or business overall that may not be working out as expected, or legacy platforms that have become outdated and are weighing down important avenues to revenue growth like eCommerce. The challenges of digital transformation initiatives can be daunting in terms of making the jump to change technological processes, workflow, and learn new tasks. But the rewards involve improved speed in product development and sales, improved customer experience, and growth in business and revenue.

The process is much more effective, however, when the whole organization is on board–from the CEO to everyone involved. There must also be a commitment to embracing new digital innovations to stay in line with industry standards and security, whether in developing products or managing data.

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

VP, Marketing Global

Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.

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