The majority of B2B firms pursuing some kind of digital transformation projects are trying to improve customer experiences — particularly the ability for buyers to make purchases, according to research from configure-price-quote (CPQ) software maker FPX.
Based on a survey of approximately 230 B2B firms with a strong focus on the manufacturing sector, the study from FPX showed 68 per cent have a digital transformation (DX) project or initiative underway, and 58 per cent said they want to improve the way in which buyers research and make purchases. Among those that don’t, a quarter, or 25 per cent, said they don’t see a problem with the status quo in terms of how their organizations operate.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the nature of its business, the FPX data focused on the benefits of tools like CPQ, citing 94 per cent who said their buyers want a way to look into purchases without having to talk to a sales rep. Those surveyed showed their IT budgets were being allocated toward a wide array of tools as part of DX, however. The Internet of Things, for instance, ranked nearly higher, at 28 per cent vs. CPQ at 20 per cent among those surveyed outside of manufacturing. Even more nascent technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were cited by 24 per cent of manufacturers and 25 of those in other industries.
“Investments in customer-facing technologies that improve the buyer experience are particularly crucial for manufacturers that sell complex products, such as automotive or aerospace parts. It’s not easy to simply sell a fleet of bulldozers to a buyer with the click of a button,” the FPX report said. “Businesses need advanced technologies that enable complex ordering processes to truly reap the benefits of customer-centric digital transformation projects.”
The report’s authors also said DX projects will inevitably cause a shift within the culture of the organizations pursuing it. In fact, the research has a section that has respondents rank the value of various digital technologies based not only on whether or not they work in manufacturing but whether they have internal or external facing roles. While “external customer sales portal” ranked No. 1 in importance for most respondents, for instance, “advanced e-commerce site with customization options topped the list for those with an internal-only role.
The good news, FPX suggested, is that there is general buy-in across the various lines of business on the critical nature of DX and the potential for such projects to bring value to the enterprise.
“Not only do respondents say they believe customer-first investments are most important, but they also say their businesses generally agree on this concept internally,” the report said. “Most respondents (85 percent) believe they have a strong internal consensus on what digital transformation means, indicating that internal stakeholders (regardless of role) largely agree that digital transformation projects should focus on the customer.”