Taking the fast track to B2B digital fitness

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Taking the fast track to B2B digital fitness
Rick Lanman from CloudBlue

Image: Rick Lanman, CloudBlue

The COVID 19 pandemic drove rapid growth in online B2C sales across Australia as consumers sought alternative ways to buy the items and services they needed.

Those same consumers are also B2B buyers, who now have similar expectations when it comes to business purchasing.

CloudBlue is seeking to help B2B sellers bring new functionality to their digital channels with a digital marketplace service designed to make it easier for them to sell their own products and services, and those of more than 200 other suppliers.

According to CloudBlue’s regional sales manager Rick Lanman, his company’s marketplace approach boosts B2B customer experience while enabling sellers to access new revenue streams.

So what is the CloudBlue offering?

CloudBlue is a hyperscale platform that powers many of the world's leading communities and marketplaces. It simplifies collaborative selling between vendors and providers through the creation of a connected ecosystem. Simply put, we accelerate how you perform and automate the commercialisation of anything-as-a-service across any digital acquisition channel. Our hyperconnected ecosystem today links more than 80,000 resellers and more than 200 leading brands globally.

What kind of products are your customers selling?

The question should be ‘what aren’t our customers selling?’ McKinsey is forecasting somewhere in the range of $6 trillion in revenue flying through B2B marketplaces by 2025, so the opportunity is huge. We've got organisations selling computer hardware, IoT technology, Software-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, insurance, and workspaces, along with their own professional services. It truly is anything-as-a-service. And once on the platform, a customer can offer any product or service they're able to sell.

How digitally mature does an organisation need to be to offer products and services this way?

Given the proliferation of B2B marketplaces expected over the next couple of years, it's really important organisations consider how they're positioned to take advantage of the opportunity and assess their level of maturity. What we've done at CloudBlue is take into consideration the capability of different organisations and developed the platform to handle the most complex scenarios in the simplest way. We solve the challenges of building these B2B marketplaces and establishing ecosystems, with over 10 years’ experience and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. As an independent business unit of Ingram Micro, the world's largest technology distributor with hundreds of thousands of resellers and products, we've operated in the most complex of environments at scale, globally. And with that experience, we've made CloudBlue as turnkey as it possibly can be, while also being able to cater for local requirements such as security and data sovereignty. The heavy lifting really has been done.

If you want to launch a marketplace or become part of an ecosystem to increase your sales potential, it's already there for you and can be up and running in four to six weeks. If you want to bill your products on a recurring basis, that's a standard functionality. If you want to incorporate service components that are a one-time charge, no problems, it's a line item we can put on an invoice or include as part of a bundle.

So how do we know this works?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Today we work with about 60 percent of the world's tier one telcos. We work with large MSPs, small system integrators, technology vendors, and ISVs. In many cases they've established new lines of revenue or grown existing ones to the tune of millions of dollars, getting a really rapid return on their investment. We're also supporting enterprises in streamlining their procurement processes digitally, which delivers a huge amount of savings and efficiency.

There's hundreds of marketplaces and ecosystems operating today with CloudBlue.

How would you describe the level of digital fitness you've encountered amongst potential Australian CloudBlue clients?

Australia is reasonably mature with a pretty good level of digital fitness. Organisations have a high level of awareness of the changes that will impact how they do business. Certainly the last 12 to 18 months has made many companies look at how they manage a digital supply chain, and what processes they have that can become self-service. And with that, they're also thinking about how they take care of the complexity of B2B sales through digital channels.

The data suggests that selling and buying really has changed, and ecosystems and digital marketplaces will play a major part in the future. But I still see some of the largest and most recognisable providers in the region struggle with elements of monetisation and managing multi-tier channels.

B2B has traditionally been a little bit slower to adopt ecommerce and other digital solutions than B2C companies. Does that present a barrier for you?

In many ways the pandemic has changed buyer behaviour and forced companies to adapt how they sell. Virtual sales and digital B2B sales are here to stay. And that's a positive, given the buyers are comfortable with online transacting, and a more and more millennials are filling those roles. A company's ecosystem will be an important measure of how digitally fit they are moving forward.

An ecosystem needs to be easily set up. It needs to enable integration into other ecosystems globally to expand reach. And it needs to be simple to manage. So at CloudBlue, our objective is to deliver all of these aspects and fast track the path to commercialisation. And we do this in a matter of weeks, not years.

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