How capital goods firms must adapt to their customers' changing demands

The digital future of B2B sales

The digital transformation of capital goods and software (in B2B business) is in full swing. Industry 4.0 is on everyone’s lips. What they are talking about is thedigital transformation as it relates particularly to products and production processes. New technologiesfrom the virtual realm are being hooked up to traditionalproduction systems in the physical world. Mechanicaland plant engineering firms, automotive suppliersand providers of industrial software solutionsalike are among those applying themselves to the digitizationof value chains. New applications such as predictive
maintenance (where machines foresee theneed for maintenance before it happens) exploit thebenefits of connectivity and help make the entire productionprocess more effective.

Yet the hype surrounding Industry 4.0 should not obscure the fact that the process of digitizing B2Bbusiness is still in its early days. In particular, the interface to customers is still being neglected. In many cases, the benefits of product-based innovations nevereven reach customers, because the corresponding marketing and sales processes have not yet been definedfor them. Roland Berger and Google Deutschlandrecently conducted a survey of 2,745 sales managersat B2B companies to investigate how muchprogress digitization initiatives have made in sales sofar. The responses suggestthat some B2B providers underestimate the strategic importance of sales – orare unable to effectively implement the transformationprocess in their companies.

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