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What Is Your Digital Gap?

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November 2, 2020
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4 minutes

Are You Comfortable with Your Status Quo?

According to Accenture, most global B2B organizations say yes. This statement is more justified coming from German companies, as the economic SME engine of the Mittelstand continues to evoke envy. Case in point: even the UK Telegraph ran an article headlined: “Secrets of growth: the power of Germany’s Mittelstand.” But recently, Reuters investigated the state of the German economy and determined that Europe’s most powerful economy is struggling to adapt to a digital age. The strong economy, they state, is actually blocking B2Bs from taking steps to plan for a digital future, as many firms “are too busy meeting orders” to modernize.

Industry 4.0 Demands Change

Yet, McKinsey’s report on the B2B digital gap revealed that fewer than 24% of executives understand exactly how digitalization is disrupting their industry. Fewer than 15% of companies practice agile development. In fact, they often trial and test an idea for more than a year before actually implementing it. But when it comes to mobile strategy, only 6% of B2B companies have even considered how they could use it to their advantage. On the contrast, B2B organizations that invest in new technology and optimize how they manufacture products, manage factories, and interact with customers grow more than five times faster than their counterparts. So let’s break it down sector by sector. We’ll clearly identify potential digital gaps in bold in each section. This way, you can quickly identify what changes you can make to turbocharge your digital growth.

"The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo." - Bob Iger

Wholesale Trade

B2B e-commerce is expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. What’s more, B2B purchasers are searching online before they make a purchasing decision. Moreover on an average, they’ve already gone through 57% of the process by the time they hit your site. Also, mobile is making moves: Digital, quite simply, is overtaking traditional methods. Accenture also predicts that companies who fail to invest in digital marketing, sales, and service initiatives will be risking between 10 and 20% of their revenues. Why? Well, though some B2B buyers prefer to talk to someone while making their initial decision. McKinsey & Company reports that only a small proportion of B2B buyers need in-person support when making a simple repeat purchase. Especially if they’re repurchasing identical products, the vast majority of your clients don’t want to speak to anyone — they simply want to click through a digital order form.

Digital gaps:

Machinery and Equipment

The German M&E sector is projected to grow to EUR 100 billion by 2025; no surprise, as it has led Europe in terms of industrial quality and perfection for the past century. But digitalizing your business doesn’t mean crushing engineering excellence to death in the slow jaws of a trash compactor. It also means eliminating error so that you can laser your efforts in on improving the quality of your machinery products! AI processes can reduce scrap rates by up to 30%; automated quality testing can detect defects up to 90% better than legacy systems; machine learning can improve those detection rates even further. Sacrificing excellence? Nope, that’s improving your manufacturing processes.

Digital gaps:

Automotive Production

The world knows that when cars are involved, Germany doesn’t mess around. But that doesn’t mean that global automotive companies are sitting idly by as they’re presented with digital opportunities to perfect and launch new models. While 18% of German businesses have adopted at least one AI technology at scale, more than double that percentage of companies in both China and the US have embraced the artificial intelligence revolution. By investing in digital tools for your floor managers and supervisors, marketing and distributing with the assistance of AI-driven analytics, and tracking supply chains with digital technologies like blockchain, you place yourself in the leading group of AI adopters – who make 3-15% higher profit margins on average.

Digital gaps:

Across all B2B sectors, industry leaders say that they’re struggling to build IT skills, revamp how their companies are structured and how they manage workflow, and securely store their digital data. Here are the main challenges that stand out:

  • Overall Digital Strategy: Which digital services and skills are you going to invest in?
  • Big Data and Analytics: How do you decide what to market and who to market to?
  • Automated Systems: How are you going to make your production more efficient?
  • Growth Strategy: How are you going to take advantage of digital opportunities?
  • Agile Development: How will you bring products to market faster?
  • Customer-Centric Digitalization: How will you engage your customers?

Bridging the Gap

By 2025, the government will have provided high-speed gigabit internet access across Germany. Meaning: it’s time to strike while the iron is hot and step up your digitalization strategies. But we realize that: “The realities on the ground…make it hard for sales leaders to understand what they actually need to do, especially when different parts of the organization have a vested interest in pushing different sides of the human-vs.-digital debate.” - McKinsey & Company Digital Sales and Analytics Report.

For that reason, it can be helpful to look outside your organisation for an objective third party who can evaluate megatrends in your industry and make professional, qualified recommendations. That’s how we provide value. You come to us with a digitalization project, and we present you with digital experts that can make it a reality — because we know that innovation moves at lightning speed. Are you ready to lead Industry 4.0? Find and fill your digital gap.