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Which 3 Technologies Are Most Disruptive in B2B?

Tim Linberg, Chief Experience Officer

Over the last few years, B2B organizations have been dominated by one big idea—disruption. And it’s gotten to the point that “disruption” has become the single biggest buzzword that sets off concerns for potential B2B buyers. But just because “disruption” is a buzzword doesn’t mean it’s not a real concern for B2B organizations across all industries.

As you try to maintain competitive advantages, you have to determine which disruptive technologies will have the biggest impact on your organization. For B2B companies, disruption comes down to three main technologies—artificial intelligence, cloud-based services, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) gives B2B organizations the means to collect, organize, and analyze massive volumes of data. Big data solutions have given you more information than you know what to do with. And now, AI can unlock the insights within that data to improve your business as a whole.

When combined with machine learning technology, AI can be applied to a wide variety of customer-facing channels and backend operations. The sheer number of vendors promising to transform your business with AI can be overwhelming. Focusing on these four general AI use cases can help cut through the noise:

  • Chatbots: When powered by AI and machine learning, chatbots can use natural language processing to automate many lower-level customer service conversations. You improve the customer experience by providing on-demand service at all hours of the day. Over time, chatbots can learn buyer behavior and predict next steps, delivering the right messages and the right time to boost conversion rates. This is why AI bot development will replace up to 50% of mobile app development by 2021.
  • Voice: The shift to conversational customer experiences started with chatbots. But as AI technology improves, voice is becoming an increasingly popular channel for customer interaction. Creating smooth, voice-based customer experiences can set you apart from competitors.
  • Backend Automation: In many cases, AI will be used to enhance human operations, making the workforce more efficient and productive. But there are times when lower-level tasks can be entirely automated to cut costs for your business. From invoicing to scheduling, fraud detection, reporting, and more, artificial intelligence can take costly human error out of many menial operations.
  • Data Analytics: By automating data collection and analytics, AI engines open the door for predictive analytics across your whole business. AI data analytics is the key to personalizing customer experiences at scale because you can surface valuable insights for customer service reps in real time.

2. Cloud-Based Services

It might be tough to think about cloud services as a disruptive technology at this point. Public cloud adoption has reached 91% while 84% of enterprises have already implemented multi-cloud strategies. However, just because you’ve shifted to SaaS applications and a few private cloud environments doesn’t mean you’re done adopting cloud-based services.

In the coming months and years, cloud adoption will only continue to grow. New combinations of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) solutions will result in waves of innovative business models. But beyond these existing cloud service models, there will be new disruptors like serverless computing.

With serverless computing, B2B organizations eliminate all physical servers and software to run individual business initiatives. Public cloud computing has already helped you streamline IT operations and become more cost efficient. As new cloud service models emerge, you’ll be able to achieve new levels of efficiency and free up valuable resources to focus on projects that will keep you ahead of competitors.

3. Internet of Things

Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be 20 billion unique devices connected to the internet. This explosion of connectivity will significantly disrupt operations, leaving B2B leaders to figure out how to support and get the most value from these devices.

While industrial industries like manufacturing, energy, and transportation are set to invest most heavily in IoT devices, analysts predict that over $300 billion will be spent every year on this technology.

The main advantage of IoT device connectivity is that you get data access points as close to the edge as possible. For manufacturers, this means getting real-time notifications of performance failures or potential operational defects. For B2B marketers, it means gaining insight into buyer behavior that can funnel back into AI-powered systems to generate insights that help boost conversion rates.

The Internet of Things will be especially useful for backend operations. A network of sensors can help you improve the efficiency and profitability of your business by optimizing logistics.

Taking a Strategic Approach to Disruption

There’s no way to create a one-size-fits-all playbook for these three disruptive B2B technologies. Every business will be able to find unique ways to implement these disruptors and gain competitive advantages. This is both a blessing and a curse for many B2B leaders.

All the potential of disruptive B2B technologies can leave leaders paralyzed by choice. Success comes down to whether or not you can take a strategic, long-term approach to staying ahead of disruption.

Designing a strategy starts with understanding more about how AI, cloud-based services, and IoT devices can impact your organization. If you want to learn more about how these disruptors will shape the future of customer experience, check out our annual NECXT report.