As part of The Drum’s most recent B2B WorldFest, developed in partnership with Stein IAS, an A-list panel of B2B marketers came together to discuss the massive changes the B2B sector was bringing about as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the incredible scale of business transformation were imposed In Answer.
The drum’s US editor, Kenneth Hein, led the discussion – “The Great Acceleration: B2B’s Transformation Point” – with James Canning, Co-Founder of MMT Digital, Debbie Vavangas, Global Head of IBM Garage, and Mark Keating, Chief Innovation Officer Stone IAS.
Vavangas opened the conversation and observed how the first few months of the pandemic outbreak resulted in “two years of transformation within two months” for many organizations. She said, “Out of necessity there was an exponential acceleration, a complete shift towards digital transformation that included platforms, integrated datasets, collaboration tools, and all the fundamental pillars required to achieve this. For many it was a big leap. “
Adding his own perspective on the early days of the lockdown, Canning said, “For the first two weeks, most businesses, including my own, were like rabbits in the spotlight, wondering what on earth was going on. As a modern day digital agency we were in a good position to be quick to adjust when it came to working from home and things like that, but I was really impressed with how quickly our clients moved to get back to the cutting edge and how quickly people could get together to make important business decisions quickly.
“In many cases, these companies had already invested in technology to provide agile capabilities from a technical perspective, but their organization wasn’t designed to do that. The necessary cultural changes had not occurred. A massive lesson from the pandemic is that business changes that used to take months or even years can actually be implemented in a few weeks – but only if you have lean, fast decision-making frameworks. “
Data is the pulse of innovation
From a marketer’s perspective, Keating discussed how many companies woke up to the value of data intelligence at the beginning of a marketing process: “Since the initial lockdown, a lot more customers have been using tools and technology to get the pulse of the market. Which topics and topics are being discussed in real time? How do you align your entire go-to-market strategy behind it? How do you customize your messages and your creative tone? How do you use your advertising technology to deliver the right message and content to the right customer at the right time?
“To answer these questions, corporate executives need to make the customer experience their top priority and break the internal silos into marketing, sales, demand generation, and branding.”
Vavangas added, “Data is definitely the key to all of this. Businesses and businesses are much more comfortable with the idea of setting a measure of success, defining what it is, and making decisions quickly and quickly based on that, rather than needing an endless governance chain of 4,000 people to create one big decision to make.
“Another big change is the new recognition of the ’employee experience’ and how important it is to involve employees in a digital transformation program. There is a clear and proven relationship between employee experience and customer experience: Happy employees deliver better products that lead to better customer experiences. Changes that employees are involved in and ultimately involve are the only changes that really last. “
You can see the full panel above.