Digital commerce is still relatively young, and B2B-focused companies didn’t adopt it as early as B2C retailers for a variety of reasons. As a result, many organizations that mostly sell to other businesses are still navigating their transformation journeys. However, what they might not realize is that digital transformation and digital maturity go hand in hand. For business leaders looking to evolve their organization into one that can fully leverage modern technology to drive business growth, it’s critical to have an understanding of the current level of digital maturity and what it takes to reach a higher level. This is where Master B2B's Digital Maturity Assessment comes in.
Developed in collaboration with commercetools and delivered as part of the full report, “Establishing Your Baseline: Assessing Your B2B Digital Maturity,” it establishes four stages of digital maturity across four key dimensions — Digital Tools, Team Culture, Customer Experience, and Data and Insights. By scoring each dimension independently, you can determine which stage your organization falls into in each dimension, as well as calculate your overall digital maturity level. You can also apply the survey to your competitors to evaluate their progress. To showcase how each dimension fits into the big-picture view of your maturity, we created a series that dedicates an individual blog to each one. The first provided an in-depth look at assessing the maturity level of your digital tools. This month, we shift our focus to team culture.
Assessing and improving the maturity of your team culture
Of course, it’s critical to have the digital technology you need to run your business and meet the expectations of B2B buyers today. That’s why it is the first dimension leaders need to assess. However, without a forward-thinking, modern team culture in place and people with digital expertise on staff, you’ll continually struggle to capitalize on the benefits modern technology offers. So, Team Culture carries equal weight in the assessment.
Assessing the Team Culture dimension requires not only looking at the level of maturity of your tech teams but also the mindset of your leaders and the organization as a whole. Both factors contribute to determining which stage of maturity you’re in. Andy Hoar and Brian Beck, co-founders of Master B2B and the creators of the study, said the first step is to consider three questions:
How much is my organization focusing on embracing digital from an organizational perspective?
How much hiring have we done for digital roles?
How much have our sales teams embraced the shift to digital?
B2Bs in Stage 1 are at the very beginning of their digital journey. They either don’t offer eCommerce at all or have a very basic site setup with limited capabilities. While business leaders whose organizations land in this stage give a variety of reasons for resisting the opportunity, at the core of the problem is fear. Some may have had a bad experience with digital transformation in the past. Which makes sense if you consider that, according to a recent study, 70% of transformation projects fall short of expectations. Others refuse to embrace digital in their personal lives and just don’t believe long-standing customers want to change how business has been done for years. Sometimes it can be attributed to pressure from a sales leader fearing for their job and that their team will become obsolete. In other situations, a lack of knowledge or ability to prioritize digital investments creates a roadblock.
Overcoming these hurdles requires someone in the organization to take a proactive role in conquering that mindset. With a 2023 Master B2B survey finding that 23% of organizations have “no” or “few” employees in dedicated digital roles, usually this “person” is self-appointed. As Andy and Brian point out in the report, virtually every Stage 1 B2B they’ve worked with boasted “at least one person internally who is agitating for digital change.”
This person becomes the catalyst for evangelizing successes of any size and sharing feedback from customers and prospects asking for more digital support. And, it’s these actions that can win over leaders and inspire action, pushing the business from Stage 1 to Stage 2. According to the report, unless this happens, the chances the business will survive more than 5 to 10 more years are slim.
Businesses in Stage 2 have gained some traction. Leadership has accepted that digital transformation has merit and has a willingness to invest in the tools to build out the company’s capabilities. At this juncture, you have to assess whether there is anyone at the company who can spearhead the journey. With 62% of B2Bs reporting that a lack of qualified eCommerce team members has created a significant barrier to growth, most organizations realize they have to recruit expertise from the outside. While this sometimes creates resistance from leaders, again, it is non-negotiable for any organization that wants to keep its doors open in the long term.
I think as we got more mature, we had to start looking at people who were basically already experts or at least had a few years of expertise in eCommerce who could bring their own ideas to the table.
Vice President of eCommerce, Jensen Precast
The cultural impact of this new talent may be significant, but often it’s exactly what the business needs to truly cultivate a new mindset throughout the organization — a mindset that sees technology as an enabler, values agility and innovation and has an optimistic view of the future. This shift is partially critical within your sales team. As the direct connection to your customers, they must embrace your digital journey and learn how to coexist with your digital channels. To make this happen, salespeople must continue to be paid commissions for online orders and repeatedly praised for embracing digital tools.
Once a B2B has reached Stage 3, the business is recognizing the benefits of digital, giving leaders confidence to stay on course. Team culture has evolved from complacency to aspirational, and there’s a sense of energy and excitement for what’s next. At this point, the goal is to help everyone feel they are contributing to the success of the organization’s digital initiatives.
To do this, you must create initiatives that foster cross-functional collaboration and innovation. Teams should have multiple channels for communication and have access to leadership. Everyone should have a voice and feel empowered to share both problems and solutions.
You know you’ve reached Stage 4, aka full digital maturity when you’re operating on flexible, scalable tech architecture that’s integrated with all critical systems of record and are recognizing tangible results. Your team culture focuses on how digital and non-digital work together to grow revenue. As your employees were participants in the transformation journey, they have a sense of ownership and truly support your digital investments. As innovation is now a part of your culture, they want to continue exploring the potential of advanced technologies such as AI and are given the time and resources to do so.
While Stage 4 is the final stage, it’s key to remember that you have to continue to nurture the culture you’ve created to keep it alive. With a system that values test-and-learn as a driver of innovation in place — one that shares failure, celebrates successes and learns from both — your people become as valuable to your organization as its digital technology.