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3 Steps to Mastering Your Global Digital Commerce Strategy

Step One > Foundational: Educate & Inform

Through the process of our recent webinar, “3 Steps to Global Commerce Strategy”, we put forward an overview as to how one of our B2B clients, IEWC, went about developing their Digital Strategy and Roadmap against which to plan and implement their digital capabilities over the next 3-4 years. IEWC is a long-established leader in the Wire & Industrial Cable industries and has built, through organic growth and M&A, a global footprint within their core market. The business goals are aggressive and IEWC fully intends to assume a leadership stance within their Global Wire & Cable distribution industry.

The 3 Steps taken are:

  1. Foundation: Educate & Inform – Building out a broad understanding within the organization and senior management and planting some sort of ‘vision’ for the opportunity and strategic importance of Digital.
  2. Strategy Development – Deliberate engagement, either internally organized or involving outside partner and perspective, that engages deep and broad within the organization to establish common understanding, capture input and lay the ground work for adoption.
  3. Phasing & Implementation – With senior management support and organization inputs and buy-in, breaking out the larger vision into digestible chunks and priorities that can be mapped to business impact/ROI, customer experience, organizational and technical readiness and investment of time and money to establish.

Today’s blog will focus on a more in-depth discussion of Step 1: Foundation and we will be diving in more exploration of Steps 2 and 3 in future posts.

As IEWC discussed in our webinar, this first step was a critical element in securing the clarity, alignment and support of their senior management and board-level members. Particularly in B2B and more established companies, it is not always assumed that more senior-level managers really understand and internalize the importance and role of digital to their business. Many of these companies, IEWC included, have grown to a leadership position in their industry without digital and many of their senior management counter-parts at their customers have come up the similar path. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the importance of Digital is not fully understood and not at the center of these legacy relationships.

In the case of IEWC, Joe Crum and his team became very aware of the importance of digital based on two primary inputs: 1) New buyer behaviors and 2) Competitive capabilities. While much of it was intuitive to those more digitally savvy managers at IEWC, it became very helpful to support this position through data-driven and externally validated reference. These two core drivers were supported by both anecdotal and industry trend reports. Examples of these reports are shown here:

With the ‘need’ to address digital as a more critical customer touchpoint and competitive differentiator, IEWC next had to lay the foundation of ‘vision’ and ‘approach’ so their managers could develop confidence that their team had the capabilities to successful drive and manage the plan by which IEWC would obtain and growth this critical component. As Joe outlines in the webinar, IEWC was clear and realistic about the capacity, strengths and experience they had internally and where they needed to reach out to an external partner to best inform and executive their Digital Strategy development and implementation plan. Verndale was selected to be that partner with a primary charter outlined in full view of the management and board-level oversight, as outlined in this slide.

Given that ‘Amazon’ was already taken, Joe and his team dubbed this initiative after the 2nd longest river in the world Project Nile.

We invite you to check out the whole webinar in which Joe outlines in further detail, the steps taken and the critical interactions as IEWC established their ‘Foundation’ education and understanding with their senior management. It’s critical that the message was not ‘softened’ and the stakes were acknowledged as strategic and critical. “We see that there will be two different companies in our industry in 5 years,” Joe Crum pointed out to his board, “those who are highly digitally capable and those who are heading out of business.” This level of urgency set the tone with which IEWC jumped into the subsequent phases of Digital Strategy development and we’ll talk in further detail about these steps into some additional blogs to be posted soon.