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Good to great: What B2B companies do to raise their Digital Quotient

by Christopher Angevine, Bertil Chappuis, Dieter Kiewell, Christina Sheffield, and Jennifer Stanley

Many B2B companies have a general sense of what they need to do to become more digital. But B2B leaders move beyond “accepted wisdom” to focus on the differentiators of success.

Our research shows that B2B digital leaders drive five times more revenue growth than their peers and 8 percent higher shareholder returns. While B2B companies tend to trail B2C counterparts, those with the highest Digital Quotients® are particularly strong in moving far beyond their competitors in three areas:

Customer insights

  • Good: Focus on understanding their customer preferences and demographics.
  • Great: Pick one or two high-value customer segments, then map decision journeys front-to-back to understand how customers buy, what channels they use, what turns them on—and off. More than 90 percent of B2B buyers use a mobile device at least once during the decision process, yet fewer than 10 percent of the B2B companies in our survey indicate that they have a compelling mobile strategy.

Process improvement

  • Good: Relentlessly improve existing processes.
  • Great: Use agile development techniques, automation, and design thinking to reconceive, even reinvent, supporting processes. Effective presales activities—the steps that lead to qualifying, bidding on, winning, and renewing a deal—can help B2B companies achieve consistent win rates of 40 to 50 percent in new business and 80 to 90 percent in renewals. Incorporating agile techniques forces product development, marketing, sales, and IT to come together and use digital design practices, such as launching minimally viable products (MVP). That can ramp up the cultural changes needed as well.

Capability building

  • Good: Build important capabilities for digital initiatives
  • Great: Identify and augment the capabilities critical to achieving scale. B2B leaders create an organizational structure that supports their digital transformation. That involves identifying which skills need to be reallocated, what data and analytics resources are needed, and which customer opportunities require capabilities that need to be built, hired, or acquired. Systematic performance tracking needs to be in place to keep the efforts on track and make sure they having the desired impact (only one in five B2B companies systematically tracks digital performance indicators).

A commitment to “great” is really what allows companies to reap the rewards from digital and build a sufficient DQ™. Without it, businesses will find their improvements provide only modest benefits that cannot be scaled.

Christopher Angevine is an associate partner in our Atlanta office, Bertil Chappuis is a senior partner based in Palo Alto, Dieter Kiewell is a senior partner in our London office, Christina Sheffield is a senior practice manager based in Dallas, and Jennifer Stanley is a partner in our Boston office.