A recent Harvard Business Review article (https://hbr.org/2016/11/right-tech-wrong-time) discusses the importance of the timing of technological shifts. Technological shifts, when mis-timed can have their own Richter scale – from world-changing to downright disastrous.
HBR cites two concerns: the first is being too late in adopting technology and missing the tide (for example Blockbuster, who failed to tackle the shift from video rentals to streaming)
The second fear is the concern of adopting tech prematurely, sinking your investment into tech that has already peaked. Early tech adoption is expensive. For example, the dot-com die-outs in the early 2000’s.
Timing of tech-adoption, says HBR, is crucial.
Playing out in B2B ecommerce
Nowhere is this scenario more relevant than in the domain of B2B ecommerce. Right now, we are seeing both these situations acting out.
Premature adopters: Those companies that wanted to be first with ecommerce at any cost. Determined to be the market-leader, many of these businesses are, indeed, now leading the way.
The worry many of premature adopters is that the cost of their initial early investment may have been particularly heavy. Tech has now moved on, but because of their initial investment they may be so wedded to their systems, that they are unable to switch to a better, more integrated system, that will save them even more money and increase their profits.
Latecomers: The companies who just didn’t jump in when their competitors were all enjoying B2B ecommerce benefits (orders 24/7/365, greater customer loyalty, reduced sales costs, reduced admin costs, increased profits).
Many of these latecomers watch as their competitors continually steal a lead over them. Some even cling to the idea that they can offer a better service with a human touch. They refuse to consider B2B ecommerce. They are going to do this old-school. *
The integrators: The third set of companies. Within this set, we have
- The premature adopters who have invested to upgrade their systems and are prepared to make changes to stay ahead.
- The late-comers who have been looking on with envy. This is an exciting time for them, and once they are tooled up they can catch up, and then win the race all over again.
- The new-comers. Businesses with a tech-savvy outlook who know they are going to win the game with full ecommerce integration playing a major part of their selling strategy.
Our message to all the above is that B2B ecommerce has a pedigree of over a decade. It’s not too late to adopt it. Neither is it too early. In fact, in the scheme of things, we could say the timing is just right.
*Old school really does have a place, and it’s actively strengthened by ecommerce. One of the greatest areas of growth we’ve noted with our customers is that whilst B2B ecommerce is the “order taker”, the much-valued sales representatives are busy building relationships and cementing long-term deals with customers.