Digital experience expectations are now universal, and there’s no way for business-to-business (B2B) organizations to escape them. Customers across industries increasingly want better digital experiences from the companies they do business with—they don’t allot extra patience for a government site, a manufacturer site, a distributor site or any other site they use to achieve their goals at work.
In fact, Episerver’s digital experience survey of 700 decision-makers in B2B companies discovered the top external threat for 84% of respondents is increasing digital expectations from their customers or partners. Like consumers, business buyers want effortless interactions— even if they struggle to deliver them at their own company.
Where B2Bs Are Investing
Considering 41% of B2B buyers say self-service functionality would make it easier to do business online, one would think self-service functionality would be a priority at their organizations. Instead, self-service website functionality was low on B2B leaders’ list of 2020 priorities. The top website feature and functionality investments B2B leaders said their companies are likely to adapt in 2020 are personalized content (36%) and improving the mobile experience of their website (33%).
Looking ahead, B2Bs plan to invest in web analytics or business intelligence (51%), email marketing systems (49%) and B2B ecommerce platforms (38%) by 2022. Once the digital laggards of marketing and ecommerce, B2Bs are now looking to automate these functions with artificial intelligence, even if that means replacing human workers. According to Episerver’s B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019, 60% of B2B enterprises say they are likely to use AI to replace human workers for marketing functions by 2022.
“Fortunately, the robots won’t be taking over, but they will make our lives easier,” said Sue Bergamo, chief information and chief security officer at Episerver. “There are so many possibilities AI can deliver, the opportunities for companies are endless. Advances in technology make all our futures brighter.”
Modernizing B2B Operations With Digital Investments
There is a brighter future for B2B marketing as budgets are increasing across the board for digital investments (89% of B2B decision makers expect them to increase in 2020). Still, 50% of B2B decision-makers told Episerver they lack funding and support from senior management to execute digital transformation programs. Time and money get allocated from people up top who believe in a project and the people who manage them.
To modernize B2B operations, marketing, commerce and IT leaders must consider how they can change the company culture that’s preventing them from providing an end experience customers want to use and return to use.
“Decision-makers are often hesitant because of the sheer scope of the transformation,” said Deane Barker, senior director of content management strategy at Episerver. “These projects are holistic—you need to evaluate the entire marketing stack, from strategy to technology to staffing to training. It’s not called ‘digital adjustment.’ Transformative change requires vision and perseverance.”
To learn more about aligning digital experience goals across departments, download Episerver’s B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019: How Companies Are Meeting Rising Expectations.