7 Reasons Why IT Departments Fail to Deliver Value with Digital Commerce

Mid-market suppliers’ initial steps into digital commerce often fail to deliver value.  It isn’t for a lack of technical skill.  These are IT teams that have built impressive systems that are supporting the backbone of their business.  Digital commerce in today’s market requires a different approach than IT initiatives in the past. 

Here is a story we have seen play out several times: A industrial distribution company has an ecommerce site with a dated user experience.  They have built some impressive capabilities, but their site lacks many capabilities available from newer digital tools on the market.  A planned move to a new ERP prompted a look at changing their digital commerce platform.  With our 25 years of experience in B2B ecommerce, what we know is that changing the technology is often a part of efforts to improve, but the technology by itself isn’t what delivers value.   

Here are 7 things that we see as the most common contributors to a failure to deliver value with digital commerce:

Insufficient Resources 
We all know that hiring in the IT space in 2023 is a challenge, and experienced digital talent (especially talent with B2B ecommerce experience) can be hard to find.  The lack of resources often contributes to the lack of ongoing attention and support for digital initiatives.  There are many IT needs within a growing mid-market business.  Many organizations are acquiring companies, implementing new IT systems, and having multiple IT priorities that distract from investing dedicated effort in the digital initiative. 

Treating It As a Project 
Many IT departments will look at digital commerce as a project to implement with a start and stop date.  Business buyers are expecting digital experiences that are constantly improving to meet their needs.  If your project has an end date, you will be losing ground to your competition online.   

Underestimating the Data Management Efforts 
Data integrations and product data management are critical aspects of successful B2B digital commerce efforts. Many IT leaders recognize this, but still fail to gain the needed resources to support this effort, hampering their digital efforts.  Typically, there are many contributing factors – large amounts of SKUs, lack of good product photography, lack of detailed attribute definition, and many systems that need to be integrated to provide the needed user experience. 

Lack of Customer Focus 
Customer wants a seamless, effortless user experience, regardless of channel.  For digital efforts to drive value, they need to center the customer and their needs in the priority setting.  This can be a challenge, especially because there are so many different aspects to successful digital solutions.  There is often a great temptation to implement what your competitors are implementing, which can be a consideration, but often puts you behind the curve, versus positioning you as a market leader.  Customer focus is traditionally not IT’s domain, which further contributes to this challenge. 

Using the Wrong Tools 
Technology is changing quickly in this space, and it can be a challenge for organizations to keep up with what technology will serve them best.  In the past, B2B suppliers had to build their own tools because there were not tools on the market that could support them.  Now the technology has improved significantly, offering software that offers a lower total cost of ownership, minimizes headaches for IT and is updated on an ongoing basis by the software vendor with new capabilities to serve your B2B customer. 

Siloed Planning 
In fairness, most organizations recognize that there needs to be some collaboration between business units when it comes to digital.  However, because of insufficient resources and so many IT projects being in process, it can be a challenge for IT to effectively collaborate with other business stakeholders – not just marketing, but also sales, customer service and other business units.  In addition, marketing and IT often have different priorities and can struggle to effectively communicate with each other leading to a breakdown in effectively teaming together. 

Unclear or Conflicting Objectives 
According to Gartner Research, “conflicting objectives are cited in 89% of cases where high regret results” [i]. A clear objective is critical because delivering value requires focus and collaboration across many parties – which means everyone needs to be very clear on what success looks like.  There will always be more things you want to do than you have the resources to accomplish.  In order to successfully create value you need to limit what you are working to accomplish in the short term and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal. 

What is the answer?  How do IT departments confidently deliver value in digital commerce?  It is possible.  It requires a different mindset and approach.  The short answer is that you need to take a focused, continuous, iterative approach to your digital customer experience.  To really understand what that looks like in practice, it is helpful to learn from others who have done it before.  If you would like to talk with someone on our team today, give us a call at 414-425-4069 x150 or visit us at www.brillianceweb.com. 

[i] Gartner, The Key Drivers of High Regret Technology Purchase Decisions, Christopher Marshall, Hank Barnes, et al.., 26 July 2022. 

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