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The future of B2B: the adaptive business

Driving growth and resilience in the new business landscape  

The new business environment we find ourselves in has been brewing for years, and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Customer expectations are changing, supplier dynamics are in flux, sales organisations are set for a remix, and a wave of new technologies and data analytics tools are just waiting to assist with your competitive advantage - if your organisation can operationalise them quickly enough, that is.

The recent rapid pace of innovation in the B2B space has been a series of band-aid, reactionary changes that haven’t really captured a true advantage. This has left the door open for business leaders who can drive real change.

The reality is that adapting to this transformation is difficult, but not impossible. Events surrounding the global pandemic have challenged even the most hardened B2B leaders.

Adaptive businesses are customer-centric businesses that succeed through adversity by transition quickly and confidently to the new landscape.

Key strategies to drive business growth through continuous adaptation:

Hybrid customer relationships

The COVID-19 pandemic quickly shifted many operations into a virtual environment, challenging the traditional norms of building and growing trusted face-to-face relationships.

But the future of customer-relationship building is not just about virtual engagement - it’s about preparing and adapting to the type of environment that your customer prefers, be it physical, virtual, or a combination of the two. It will also require developing the employee skills necessary to adapt to any type of environment.

As the working world returns to the office, or not, adaptive business leaders will take the lessons learned through the pandemic to establish, build, grow and maintain trusted client relationships in any context.

Dynamic partner networks

Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen that success in B2B takes a concerted effort in many aspects, from establishing fewer, stronger strategic supplier partnerships, to building customer trust and relationships virtually. And, when businesses and their people partner together, they stand a better chance at succeeding together.

The partnership ecosystem of the 'adaptive business' must be constructed so that it is ready and flexible enough to take whatever shape is necessary for the challenge at hand.

Next-gen technology

The pandemic brought waves of change to B2B companies, with those changes being supported by technology. From the near ubiquity of video call software to high-end, predictive demand-planning systems, businesses globally turned to technology to help solve core customer and business challenges.

As we look to the future, is this surge of technological investments complete? Is technology purely a cost of entry, or can it be the key to unlocking and creating new, distinctive customer experiences? And is it really that simple - just identify new tech, and plug and play?

As we’ll see, "adaptive business" not only adopts new technology, but creates the internal language and processes to continuously respond, as technology evolves and customer preferences change.

People and planet forward

A new generation of B2B buyers and employees will choose organisations based not just on their products, but on how they demonstrate and act on their brand purpose in the world at large.

Does the company really care, or is it just words? Are they acting where governments can’t or won’t? Are they doing more than taking advantage of a moment and leading the way in their industry category? These criteria are just scratching the surface. Businesses that cannot adapt to the socially and environmentally conscious buyer risk not even being considered by potential customers, regardless of product differentiation or competitiveness.

The challenges and change catalysed by the pandemic have opened the door for new sources of growth and business evolution. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for approaching this, but the four strategies identified and set out in our The Future of B2B The Adaptive Business report (see link below) present accessible opportunities and accelerants for businesses to adopt and apply to start their journey into adapting as a business.

For more in-depth insights and analysis download Ogilvy’s The Future of B2B The Adaptive Business

Michael Lombardi


published on

27 April 2022



Related Topics

COVID-19 B2B Consumer behaviour

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