When it comes to 2023, we can look back at what trends were predicted and see what became a reality. AI going mainstream in marketing platforms. Check. Inflation causing a slowdown in digital commerce or even a full-on recession. On the buy side, that has not panned out as consumer and business purchases grew. On the tech side, we did see companies become more cautious with their investments. Composable commerce has becoming more viable for B2B companies. Yes, but it’s still a work in progress. Personalization becoming more important than ever for B2C and B2B. 100% true.
But instead of looking backwards, let’s look ahead. So, we are looking at trends that can help you figure out the best approach for 2024.
Leaving legacy behind
If there’s any time to look at moving away from legacy systems, it’s now. Forrester predicts that at least one-quarter of digital tech spending will shift away from maintenance because of new tech implementations and strategies. While having a good maintenance and managed services strategy is important, it should not take up an inordinate amount of budget. “A drop in interest rates in the first half of the year will lead to an increase in technology investments in H2 of 2024, as businesses begin to green light stalled projects and invest in upgrading their tech stacks,” says Randy Kohl, Vice President of Marketing at Smith.
Moving to the cloud has been daunting for years, but Gartner predicts that “more than 70% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms (ICPs) to accelerate their business initiatives, up from less than 15% in 2023.” This big shift will be specific to SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services. Are you still on your legacy system? It might be time to think about how migrating to improve ROI in the long run, but also about your Application Management Services (AMS) team in the interim.
The biggest trend of 2024 will be one that’s been gaining momentum for several years: targeted replatforming. Bringing composable commerce from a B2C lens and into one for B2B clients has been what we’ve been working on with our Conduit and Ascend products.
With composable commerce, there’s no reason to change the entire platform, but instead focus on what can provide the best ROI and user experience for customers. We consider composable commerce to be a continuum because no two companies have the same starting point or end goals, and the path to composable is not a straight line. The delta between where a business currently sits and where it wants to go is something we call the Composable Commerce Continuum (C3).
With most B2B customers looking for B2C-like experiences, self-service helps bridge that gap while also helping companies be more effective and efficient with resources. “Taking a page from the retail sector, digitally savvy distributors will step up efforts to deliver more immersive hybrid buying experiences,” says Randy Kohl. “As a point of differentiation, look for these wholesalers and distributors to make more use of technologies to enable simplified ordering and returns, and implementing buy-online-pickup-in-warehouse collection to take advantage of their in-market locations.”
The difference between self-service and interactive self-service has to do with offering walk-throughs, demos, or a digital showroom. Is this a one-size fits all approach? No. But there is value in removing any friction points from the customer experience. If digital tools can reduce unnecessary rep interactions, adding these capabilities can pay dividends.
Even in B2B commerce, stockouts are bound to happen. Predictive analytics can help B2B companies merchandise more intelligently by parsing on market trends, internal sales data, seasonality, and more. While minimizing stockouts is important, predictive analytics can also help with lead prioritization, CRM segmentation, and retargeting.
Predictive analytics works hand-in-hand with AI and Gartner believes that “by 2025, context-driven analytics and AI models will replace 60% of existing models built on traditional data.”
It’s no longer enough to look at data to see how well you did and who you targeted. It’s time to take that data and use it to predict what you will sell and find out who you should be targeting in 2024.
The rise of GEN AI
2023 has been the year of AI, and that isn’t about to change in 2024. Of course, many industries will use it for cost savings, but without the proper talent in the organization, you might not be able to use it to its fullest potential.
Randy has his own thoughts on GEN AI. “The rise of AI, GEN AI in particular, will alter the makeup of the executive suite. As companies further integrate next generative AI tools into their back-office operations and customer experiences, look for the expansion of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role and newly created Chief AI Officer roles to take on these net new challenges.” Salesforce conducted a survey that showed that “67% of IT leaders surveyed said they have prioritized generative AI for their business within the next 18 months.”
These trends aren’t fads, and it’s a good time to start learning more. Want to talk about any of these topics, or maybe you have another challenge on your mind? We predict a conversation with us is a good start.