For more than a decade, B2B marketing, sales and service organizations have been modernizing how they engage with customers. Data and technology have fundamentally changed how the revenue organization operates. The pandemic served as an opportunity for laggards to catch-up and leaders to commercialize years of investment.
Alexander Group surveyed digital, marketing, sales and service leaders across industries to learn more about the state of the Digital Revenue Organization post-pandemic.
The results? Leaders widened the gap while laggards installed the foundation needed to catch-up.
The research delivered the following insights:
Digital means many things—even when the scope is marketing, sales and service alone.
A specific definition is too narrow for the revenue organization. A broad definition is unwieldy. 63% of participants indicate their organization does not have a common definition. 100% agree that lack of a common definition impedes execution.
Those with a definition described digital as e-commerce, e-business, digital commerce and omnichannel. The meaning of digital is different company to company. While participants could not agree on a universal or narrow definition, they agree digital – at its core- is all about customer experience.
More specifically it is how a business uses data and technology to create innovative, disruptive customer experiences – leading to competitive advantage. A complete digital definition also includes perspective on strategy, leadership, culture, talent, data & insights and operations.
Leaders of these teams often spend the first several quarters in the role aligning the organization on a common definition, vision and roadmap. Lack of a well understood definition and communicated vision is viewed as the most common inhibitor to progress.
Differentiate based on customer needs turning marketing, sales, and service functions into a competitive advantage.
Accelerate digital literacy through aligned definition, organizational agility, and change management.
Develop, recruit, motivate, and retain the human resources needed to turn vision to reality.
Advance intelligence by contextualizing data applications for customers, colleagues and systems.
Create technical agility speed integration of back-end systems with front-end customer experiences.
Redefine processes to deploy the right motions to colleagues and customers at the right time.
Deliver seamless customer experiences across physical and digital interactions to improve revenue growth, market share, and customer satisfaction.
They start out developing foundational capabilities to process an online transaction. As they move forward, they begin experimenting with new-found data and technology capabilities – often applying the skills to how they market and engage customers post-sales. Organizations at this stage will often rebrand as “e-business” signifying accountability for more than just e-commerce.
As experiments prove out, digital organizations grow in scope and function. Discrete marketing, sales and service digital capabilities integrate. The organization infuses sister functions with new and advanced capabilities. The organization aspires to deliver integrated online and offline experiences.
Those that achieve this transformational level of maturity deliver innovative and disruptive omnichannel customer experiences. Marketing engages across the customer lifecycle, buyers transact seamlessly via an array of channels and service is delivered when, where and how customers prefer.
Regardless of where a business is on the Digital Maturity Model, leaders advise anchoring to customer expectations. While it is important to be aspirational, they indicate a practical, near-term focus is needed to ground the organization and build momentum.
Figuring out where to start begins with developing an outside-in view. Actively monitor customers evolving expectations. Base your digital roadmap – the set of initiatives the business will undertake – on what your unique buyers want. Avoid falling into the trap of being biased by a B2C experience that overshoots the emerging needs of a B2B buyer.
Delivering those capabilities takes people and investment. Alexander Group research shows that digital organizations find their roots diffused across different parts of the business. At a point in time, they are brought together into a centralized function – often under sales and marketing. They start by delivering a limited value proposition such as baseline e-commerce capabilities. As momentum builds, these organizations take on more accountability and may rebrand to e-business as they do more than just transact. In their most mature form, they may be described as omnichannel – engaging with customers across a complex mix of marketing, sales and service channels.
The organization features a team that owns underlying technology such as the e-commerce platform. Team members here maintain and enhance the shop. Marketing resources are often owned by the function to engage with customers across digital spaces, drive traffic and deliver needed content and messaging. Finally, the function includes operational team members enabling with data, insights and program management.
As the Digital Revenue Organization matures it ultimately becomes a standalone function, shifting out from under Marketing and Sales to the COO or CEO. These mature organizations are often helmed by an SVP level leader or a Chief Digital Officer. They are tasked with shift (productivity) and lift (revenue) goals.
Talent is one of the top reported inhibitors of digital roadmap progression. Plainly stated being digital requires people. Critical human resources are not easily found or plucked from B2C. They bring specialized capabilities and unique career experience. They are hard to find and even harder to woo.
Research participants describe three roles at the center of their recruiting efforts. These roles are viewed as pivotal to roadmap execution:
Bringing a digital vision to life is hard. Leaders describe a path riddled with obstacles. They face a breadth of expectations from customers and the business. Even if they are well-funded and have a vision, they run into difficulty gaining cross-functional buy-in and support due to lack of a common digital definition. They operate in a complex matrix – serving product, geo and functional stakeholders. They are pressured to show results faster than corporate culture, access to talent and timelines will allow.
Those making progress within their organization offer practical advice.
The Digital Revenue Organization is here. Data and technology advancements continue to fundamentally change how marketing, sales and service organizations operate. Mature organizations have strong leadership, they are well resourced and are actively progressing down a defined roadmap. They anchor their vision to innovative customer experiences. They break down barriers through ongoing communication and organizational alignment. They maintain momentum and funding through agile operations. They feature specialized, visionary talent with the ability to lead cross-functional teams.
To learn more about how Alexander Group can help set your organizational digital definition, leverage the experience of mature digital organizations to plot your path, rally resources and teams and bring your digital vision to life, please contact a digital practice lead.
Alexander Group understands your revenue growth challenges. Since 1985, we’ve served more than 3,000 companies across the globe. This experience gives us not only a highly sophisticated set of best practices to grow revenue—we also have a rich repository of unique industry data that informs all our recommendations. Aligning product, marketing, operations and finance efforts behind a successful sales organization takes insight and hard work. We help the world’s leading organizations build the right revenue vision, transform their organizations and deliver results.
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