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Strategies to avoid 3 common adoption challenges in a B2B ecosystem

Adam Schanfield, Brad Koszuta, Stephanie Shine
Greenery with glowing circuit board

With today’s rapidly evolving B2B customer expectations, embracing digital tools is a necessity. Businesses that successfully integrate technology can increase efficiency, enhance customer engagement, leverage data-driven insights, and cultivate innovation.

On that journey toward success, navigating the B2B digital ecosystem of influential customers, disparate technologies, and divergent stakeholder interests can be challenging. And every effort to implement change, especially new digital technologies, creates ripples of impact that need to be proactively managed across people, processes, and platforms.

To help organizations nurture healthy digital adoption within that ecosystem, we identified three common thorns that can hamper progress and outlined the strategic seeds you should plant to help your digital environment thrive.

Common thorns to avoid


Thorn 1: The buried “why”

Without unearthing a clear purpose, you risk letting wild brambles tangle your path. Given the number of decision makers and resource considerations involved, the decision making process leading up to B2B digital development can be rigorous and time consuming.

That makes identifying and continuously reiterating the strategic intent of new technology all the more important. With a well-defined vision you can generate buy-in from your team and, in turn, confidence from your customers.

Thorn 2: Customer neglect

An unengaged customer is like a forsaken sapling. Leaving it to shrivel or, conversely, grow under the care of a competitor, leads to costly, time-sucking consequences. When tended to, you give customers the perfect environment to grow stronger.

In a B2B ecosystem, you have limited opportunities to get it right. One bad experience and one customer leaving can be greatly influential to the health of your business. By remaining close, you learn what they need and can better address their pain points.

Engaging with customers continuously not only enriches relationships, but also garners valuable feedback for improvements that resonate with their needs. It also provides you with ample opportunities to stay visible, prove tangible value, and avoid the need to discount your work.

Thorn 3: Keeping employees in the dark

While cultivating your ecosystem, it can be easy to focus solely on the more exciting, customer-centric aspects of digital product development. But excluding key employee stakeholder groups from the process can promote fear and anxiety among employees (especially given the number of inevitable process changes and role adjustments created by digital development).

By identifying employees with the right skills, experience, and insights for involvement, you can create a powerful coalition to clear the weeds of resistance, root your efforts in relevant use cases, and spread the sunshine of clear communication throughout the organization.

Strategic seeds for success

To overcome the thorns presented above, here are a few tips to help ensure new processes, technologies, and solutions are successfully embraced.

Seed 1: Craft a clear vision

Unearth the why behind your digital transformation and lead with purpose. Clearly communicating your overarching goals with consistency quells uncertainty and empowers stakeholders to navigate tough terrain. Without a vision and roadmap in place, digital investments can suffer from scope creep, a lack of focus, and mounting change resistance.

However, you can weather the storms associated with these issues by building on a foundation of clear intention from the start. In an Agile organization, consistency and clarity of the vision maintains direction: while the approach may adjust to navigate new ground, the vision remains as a North Star toward the overall goal.

Recently, we worked with Corteva, a Fortune 500 agricultural company, to develop a personalized, omnichannel platform impacting both employees and end-users. To avoid getting lost in a field of disparate demands, we created a process to clearly define the tool’s purpose. With that as our guide, we could more accurately communicate the benefits to both stakeholder groups and design with their needs in mind from the start.


Seed 2: People first, pixels second

In a world of algorithms and automation, remember that it is still humans who advance digital transformation. The driving force behind profitable digital adoption is the people most committed to your brand – customers and employees. Put customers and employees at the heart of your digital plans and partner with them to avoid post-rollout redesigns and other expensive surprises. Include relevant staff and customer feedback into discovery and testing.

Create informed user journeys and use cases. Invest in training and a culture of learning for employees whose jobs can expand through the use of technology. By connecting people and processes to the technology, you will foster fertile ground for healthy growth and smoother transitions.

In working closely with Gordon Food Service, one of the largest food distributors in North America, we created a well-adopted next-gen global B2B digital ordering experience. Central to reaping success: user engagement at every project phase. Together, we created the product they needed, wanted, and readily championed.

Seed 3: Measure success

Just as each season brings different demands, your digital landscape will evolve over time. Monitor your analytics regularly to identify patterns and trends. Analyze season-specific metrics to uncover opportunities for growth during peak and low periods. Set clear benchmarks that align with your vision. Measure the growth of engagement, adoption rates, and user satisfaction.

Just as a blooming garden brings joy, a surge in positive metrics indicates progress toward your digital goals. Allow your organization to tap into a wellspring of insights that guide resilience and adaptation.

In working with Rockwell Automation, one of the U.S.’s largest industrial automation technology providers, to revolutionize their digital experience, we recognized the importance of fostering collaboration and breaking down silos. As an essential part of the process we engaged with stakeholders across a range of departments to achieve their vision for a unified customer journey.

Embracing the tools of the digital era is just the beginning. The true transformational journey involves tending to the soil of purpose, nurturing the blossoms of people, and measuring growth through changing seasons. Without these mindful steps, the sting of ambiguity and neglect can overshadow any hope for advancement.

With planning for the thorns and investment in the seeds, your well-cultivated B2B digital adoption ecosystem will yield a harvest of success that sustains your organization's growth and transformation.

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