B2B eCommerce

A five step process for transformation

If you are like an increasing number of B2B brands, it has become painfully clear that business as usual is no longer possible. You have even started on initiatives to transform your business but have not found your groove.

Your marketplace and your workplace have been up ended since COVID-19. The reality is that it started way before that. It bears reminding that COVID served to accelerate the process.

So, how are you keeping up?

You do not have to look far to find case studies or statistics about why so many transformation efforts produce less-than-optimal results.

Of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018, an estimated $900 billion was wasted when initiatives did not meet their goals. (Forbes 2019)

Transformation efforts are change management efforts, with employee resistance being the most significant barrier to success.

70% of transformation projects fail because of resistance from employees.

 Throughout my career, I have seen very people-focused organizations and cultures have a demanding time doing what is needed to operationalize the changing needs of customers and employees.

And in siloed organizations, it is much worse. Well-meaning managers and executives usually start by identifying a flashy piece of technology or the desire to be more “data driven.” The trouble is that the rest of the organization has no idea this is happening until the implementation has started, or even more complicated, the initiative is ready for launch.

Transformation is not a technology purchase. And it is not the re-organization of your teams.

At least not yet.

If those conversations occur in your organization, stop, and take a moment to review the following five (in order) critical first steps to rock your business transformation.

  • Begin with the end in mind. You must start by understanding business outcomes. I like to focus my view on a 3–5-year timeline of the following four:
  • Revenue and profitability
  • Operational efficiency
  • Customer experience
  • Socioeconomic Sustainability

It is critical to understand how each overlap with the other in your business. And if you cannot do that, you will want to address it in your roadmap.

  • Create a “no-constraints” zone. With business outcomes in mind, invest some quality time with your teams to create new business initiatives; ones that are free of worry about current organizational structure, technology limitations, data infrastructure, and any other item that would cause someone to say, “We can’t do that because…” I encourage the idea of thinking like a start-up since there are start-ups out there waiting to eat your lunch. And guess what? They are planning and executing without constraint.
  • Pave the way. Build a “no-constraint” roadmap of five high-level initiatives and quantify each. The roadmap must align with the four business outcomes above. You will have many ideas come out of your ideation sessions. Pick five you will explore and put others in a backlog of items to be worked on later. If you do not know solid numbers yet, take a swag. As you do this, what will become priorities and what are ‘nice to haves will become apparent.
  • Keep (or adjust) your promise. Assess your current Brand promise against new business ideas. Does it still make sense? Do you use this promise to make decisions for everything in your organization? Do not have one? You must add this as the first initiative to your roadmap.
  • Look in the mirror. With a clear understanding of value aligned to the four outcomes, now introduce constraints into your roadmap.

Internally you should focus on all four areas of focus and their relationship to one another:

  • Mission and Vision: Do you have a simple vision and mission that can live in the hearts and minds of your employees?
  • People: Do you have the proper structure or talent to achieve your plan?
  • Process: Do your processes help achieve and deliver on our promise?
  • Data: Do you have the correct data (or access to it) to deliver?
  • Technology: Does my toolset support the first three bullets?
    Externally you have other regulatory, legislative, macoeconomic, or other forces at work keeping you from achieving your plan.

Assess both internal and external constraints. Assign a cost to address each of these constraints aligned to your initiatives.

With “Look in the mirror” complete, you are now ready to polish up the roadmap and go through approvals.

In your roadmap, you should be left with five clearly (at most) defined initiatives quantified against the four business outcomes in the roadmap. Included will also be constraints that connect to each of the five initiatives.

Completing these five steps at the beginning puts your business on a smoother path to business transformation.

Get ready. The next round of meaningful work lies ahead.

Want to become a member?

Become a member of the B2B eCommerce Association for free today. Connect, learn and find new opportunities. 

About the B2BEA

The B2B eCommerce Association is a global network and resource hub for B2B practitioners, offering invaluable opportunities to connect and learn. Our mission is to empower manufacturers and distributors in their eCommerce and digital transformation journeys through useful tools, practical resources and exceptional networking opportunities. Join us to thrive in our dynamic industry

Want to become a member?

Become a member of the B2B eCommerce Association for free today. Connect, learn and find new opportunities.