It’s a common business strategy: Design and produce products as efficiently as possible, and sell them at a competitive price.
But it’s so 20th century.
The 21st century will be different, with sellers learning to engage with their customers in ways that provides them whatever they need—even access to the competition’s products. That was the message from Sam Ganga, principal, management consulting, at global consulting firm KPMG Wednesday during the kick-off session presentation at the B2B Next conference in Chicago.
The effective seller going forward, he said, will say to customers: “Not only do I want to send you something I provide, but I’m able to connect you with the rest of our world [and] connect you to other devices to use my products more efficiently.”
That can mean providing links from a seller’s commerce website to a competitor’s related products, he said. The seller then goes on to “own the customer” and understand not only how she works with its products but also with a competitor’s products.
The level of customer engagement is one of four ways that enterprises should develop for succeeding in an increasingly digital world, Ganga said.
The other three:
- The changing nature of the value of assets. More and more, Ganga says, the value of assets is in data—for example, how customers use products—and companies must learn how to monetize that data by providing the level of service as well as products customers demand.
- Capitalizing on “everything-as-a-service.” As companies use application programming interfaces, or APIs, to connect and access multiple products and services, they need to figure how they can both subscribe to what they need through such internet connections and provide services to others.
- Developing the workforce of the future. “Probably the most significant thing companies must do, Ganga said, is to prepare for the shift over the next several years to when at least half of all jobs will be automated. More workers will operate on a contract basis, and they and their employers will need the skills to work with artificial intelligence and related developments to remain competitive.
Ganga gave as an example of what could soon be a common way of operating a business in a more internet-connected future. An executive would start her day getting a computer voice message noting that her current monthly revenue forecast will be lower than expected. “Which SKU is off?” the executive would reply.
The AI-driven virtual assistant promises to get back in 40 minutes. As the executive heads to work, the virtual assistant informs her that production of a particular product is off because of downtime in a factory in Mexico, causing supply to fall from current demand. But the assistant adds that increased production is expected to make up for the revenue shortage for the entire quarter.
The virtual assistant further informs the executive, however, that the troubled factory has had two production downturns recently, so the assistant has already set up a meeting for the executive to discuss the matter with the factory manager.
“This is the future you’ll be living with,” Ganga told his audience.
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