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How has technology changed the business-to-business industry?

In the past couple of decades, we’ve seen desktop computers take the world by storm, then give way to mobile technology. Experts predict that wearable technology and the Internet of Things are soon to follow. If we want to understand how the business-to-business industry will change in the next few years, it’s best to take a look at how the marketplace has already changed.

How Technology Has Already Changed the Business-to-Business Industry

New developments in every field of technology have changed the way we do business, and the business-to-business industry is also undergoing rapid shifts. Here are a few of the major changes we are seeing:

  • Everything is done online now. The bottom line that underscores all of the following points is that all work and all business communication takes place online. From email correspondence to collaboration and virtual meetings, any business that isn’t online won’t survive in the coming years and decades.
  • Research shows that businesses are turning to the internet for business and market research. Business-to-business communication is one thing, but research shows that businesses are also performing market research on the internet. This research often leads to major purchasing decisions, which has huge implications for B2B content marketing.
  • Content marketing is becoming a central B2B pillar. Due in part to the reasons mentioned above, content marketing has already become a major pillar of the B2B marketing. However, many B2B marketers report that they don’t really know what they’re doing and they don’t have an effective B2B marketing strategy.
  • Search isn’t the only B2B marketing tool – businesses are increasingly using social media to connect with each other. Social networks, such as Twitter and especially LinkedIn, are playing a large role in both B2C and B2B communications. Social networks enable businesses to instantly connect with other business professionals around the world who align with their industry, their interests, and their career goals.
  • Big data changes the way businesses evaluate the B2B world. Data has already become a vital function in every business’s decision-making process, and the insights offered by big data continue to transform the way the business-to-business industry functions.

According to McKinsey, leading companies are using data experiments to inform management decisions and even to predict the market. And just as big data provides big insights into B2C marketing, B2B marketing is also taking advantage of the precision targeting that big data permits. The same big data that allows us to precisely target our customers also allows companies to deliver highly tailored products and services to their customers, whether they are businesses or consumers.

2015 and Beyond

When you take a look at the data experiments McKinsey cited, some business-to-business practices are already starting to look like science fiction. Here are a few changes that will impact the business-to-business economies in 2015 and beyond.

  • Technology will optimize the supply chain. One of the driving factors for the growth and evolution of technology will be optimization. In other words, much of the technology behind the Internet of Things and related machine-to-machine interfaces, will be designed to increase the cost efficiency of the supply chain. And as the supply chain grows, so too will the business-to-business industries that support it.
  • Technology will transform the shopping experience. In fact, the shopping experience has already become a multi-channel pathway that operates through multiple devices. The more that technology changes the demand end of the supply chain, the more that related business-to-business fields will adapt. And since the entire business-to-business world supports the consumer marketplace, we will continue to see that world adapt to the needs of retail, marketing, advertising, and other related fields.
  • Automation that makes business-to-business more efficient will also make it more competitive. Robotics and automation software are already making some job functions obsolete. And if algorithms can perform even managerial functions, where does that leave humans? While algorithms and artificial intelligence may not be able to compete with human creativity or empathy, they can perform many of the logistical data functions.
  • Big data will improve the efficiency of business-to-business operations. Big data will function much like other technological advances and allow for improved efficiency in industries across the supply chain. Data can collect and use process performance data to improve everything from manufacturing to product creation to marketing and advertising and the consumer experience. Big data will actually become a cornerstone for competitiveness in the marketplace, which will be able to make or break a company.

In the future, we will see many more advances in the business-to-business industries, in everything from marketing and advertising to communications, product development, and even managerial functions. For a business to face changes and challenges head on, it will need to take a close look at what’s already happening if it wants to see what’s coming around the corner.