Keeping up with the evolving expectations of customers is no joke and it is especially harder for B2B companies given the volatile and rapidly evolving landscape of businesses today. Modern B2B customers now demand experiences that are not only seamless but also highly personalized, mirroring the standards set by their B2C counterparts. Investing in digital customer experiences and self-service tools is necessary to support the demands of your customers, drive efficiency, but also to enable new service-based revenue streams. B2B companies often sells complex products and handle their customer relationships through unique agreements; hence it is a complex task to build digital experiences that can service the customers with the correct data according to their unique agreements and product structures.  

Investment in this area often starts with e-commerce technology, and due to budget limitation it often stops there as well. But taking your customer experience to the next level goes beyond your e-commerce investment. However, digital projects have historically always required costly integration projects, to get data from your different backend systems through a platform to be used in a frontend. The challenge of data complexity is significant in a B2B business, and the underlying complexity of that project stream is rarely addressed and often underestimated.  

Yet, on the path to achieving better CX efficiency, B2B companies encounter a significant roadblock: the hidden B2B data challenge. What do we mean by this? 

B2B data is often complex, scattered across various systems and locked away in silos, leading to messy data structures, complex integrations, data replication errors, etc. Data is difficult to access, complex to map and hard to expose. These data challenges are often underestimated and rarely talked about during a project planning phase, where each party assumes it is someone else's problem. 

This leads to many businesses placing their primary focus on the "backend" of their tech stack, particularly their e-commerce platforms, and they often overlook the significant impact on the front-end experience. Unfortunately, this oversight results in site visitors encountering broken buying experiences and performance issues, thus damaging the overall experience for customers and losing trust in the company.  

What is the root cause of this problem? 

The root of this problem lies in the traditional approach of siloing data across various systems, including Product Information Management (PIM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. This scattered data challenge hinders the development of a truly efficient front-end experience. 

The traditional approach to addressing this challenge typically involves integrating data point-to-point from various sources into a commerce or CMS platform, platforms that cannot cope with the dynamic needed to support different needs and channels. This method often falls short in delivering integrated data that is truly relevant for each of the unique use-cases. For example, in some scenarios, data is needed to create a D2C (Direct to Consumer) experience, while in others, the priority is a sales tool or employee experience. Attempting to use the same integrated data for both these use-cases results in increased complexity in connecting and selecting data to fuel digital experiences as well as a non-relevant experience for the customer. And as result, businesses are left to deal with delayed digital projects, increased budgets or scope creep. 

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To overcome these challenges and drive efficient CX innovation, companies must adopt a new solution strategy. This strategy revolves around a three step CX recipe: 

1. Unlocking Data: Data needs to be unlocked and made available in real-time to fuel the right front-end experiences to create highly impactful customer experiences.  *The very core of efficient CX innovation lies in the capability to real-time data activation. You cannot afford to waste time on creating  new mappings and building the same integrations over and over again. 

2. Unifying Data:   To achieve an effective customer experience mindset, companies must possess the ability to seamlessly unify data from various sources, thereby creating a complete, cohesive and holistic 360 degree view of the products, customers, transactions, quotes, service orders and more. The key lies in aligning the relevant data with specific business objectives, ensuring can be made relevat to each use case specifically. Thus, companies need to ensure  accessibility for digital teams and partners to any type of data that is needed to implement features and functions enhancing the customer experience.

3. Exposing Relevant Data: Having the ability to publish the right data in real-time for a specific purpose helps projects reduce front-end implementation efforts and increase relevance for the end user. With the ability to slice and dice data to create customized product finders and tailored shopping experiences, the goal should be to provide the right data for every customer and context instead of a generic data publishing approach. Having a microsite perspective, where you can create multiple front-end experiences for specific audiences and purposes with customized product finders, and a tailored shopping experience, will help you with work on more parallel projects and not a single never-ending backlog that always will sacrifice important outcomes. 

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Include the data capabilities in your solution architecture 

 An architecture for a CX solution often only focuses on commercial capabilities and does not include the data management aspects. To avoid miscommunications, budget overruns and delayed launches, data capabilities need to be highlighted when deciding on your solution components. To get this topic on the table ask these questions when planning your next project: 

  • How can you make it possible to UNLOCK more data without the need for new integrations for every component or every new project? 
  • Where should your team COMBINE data from any system without developer efforts? 
  • How can you EXPOSE relevant data tailored for a specific purpose, screen or system to avoid your frontend team wasting time on data management? 

One example on how to illustrate how this strategy can be implemented effectively, is understanding the role of Occtoo’s Experience Data Platform in a composable commerce context. An Experience Data Platform enables businesses to combine/unify data from any source and present it in a relevant format for any frontend or system. By exposing data that is pertinent to each digital experience and context, Occtoo empowers companies to unlock the full potential of their data.  

Benefits of including an Experience Data Platform in your tech stack 

Here are the key benefits of using Occtoo’s Experience Data Platform: 

  • Unlock your gold: Companies have far better chances of tapping into new opportunities and enhancing their customer experiences by unleashing the full power of data and launching right and relevant experiences for their target audiences. 
  • Refined data duality: An Experience data platform can refine your data quality by simply ensuring that data is standardized, accurate, and up to date for every front-end experience you wish to create. 
  • Empower business teams: A dream come true for most business or digital teams is to reduce their dependence on IT departments for data access while launching digital experiences. Occtoo places the power right in the hands of your business teams for them to push the data buttons as needed.  
  • Scalability and Agility: Having the ability to be resilient and agile to changing market demands is the key to success in today’s rapidly evolving business scenario. With Occtoo, you can significantly reduce the time and money spent on lengthy integrations and cut to the chase of creating efficient CX directly.  
  • Cost Efficiency: Imagine not having to spend two thirds of your project budget just to access and integrate data?! An Experience Data Platform can effectively address data challenges, ensuring that data is unlocked, unified, and exposed efficiently thus helping to streamline the integration of data across various applications and touchpoints, making it readily available for CX innovation without hefty budgets. 

CONCLUSION: The hidden B2B data challenge is undeniably one of the biggest hurdles on the path to efficient CX innovation for most companies, as it is the cause of so many projects taking months or years to complete, being delayed or suffering from budget and scope creep. Today, it is no longer a luxury but an absolute necessity for B2B companies to solve this problem to enable digital transformation capabilities at speed. Embracing innovative solutions, platforms and strategies that unlock, unify, and efficiently expose their data will empower these businesses to offer the relevant experiences their customers crave while retaining their competitive edge.  

You can begin today! Get in touch and we’ll show you how!

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