Chances are you are already on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking sites to expand your personal network. And you have experienced first-hand their power to connect you to the right people and prospects faster.
But how networked is your enterprise?
The answer can be a major determinant of your business’ success, says Rob Mihalko, who oversees Ariba’s, a SAP company, overall seller marketing initiatives, in this month’s SmartProcurement.
A McKinsey and Company survey found that two-thirds of the 3 200+ businesses surveyed are using social media and business networks to improve. And those doing so most aggressively are seeing significant competitive, cost, and profit advantages; networked enterprises were 50% more likely than their peers to have increased sales, higher profit margins, gain market share, and be a market leader.
These companies have embraced the fact that they are part of a global “Networked Economy” – just as we all are as individuals – and they are strategically using inter-connectivity to operate and buy better, enabled by business networks that connect buyers and sellers.
A business network enables you to quickly discover, qualify, connect, and collaborate with your trading partners around a shared process, jump-starting your organisation’s ability to realise results like those documented in the McKinsey study.
From a buyer’s perspective, a business network can make business buying as easy as personal shopping as well as instantly expand your universe of potential suppliers, which is more is more important than you may think, says Mihalko.
“Just reaching out to the suppliers you know – for example, the ones that you have always done business with for the last 10 years – may not result in the best outcomes in terms of cost and quality.”
Not long ago the Internet was viewed as just a playground for consumers with little-to-no-value for businesses. But it is a completely different story today.
Just as consumers use Facebook, Twitter, and Kalahari, Takealot and Amazon.com to better communicate, share, and shop, companies now are also making the most of the available digital networks to more effectively collaborate and interact with their trading partners.
B2B e-commerce continues to gain traction in the marketplace, with an increasing number of companies taking a closer look at how to leverage it to drive sales and, ultimately, revenue. The potential for significant top- and bottom-line benefits are a compelling reason to adopt B2B e-commerce. Yet, many misperceptions exist and the confusion is causing many companies to miss out on the exceptional rewards that online channels have the potential to deliver.
One common misperception is that e-commerce primarily benefits large organisations with sizable IT budgets. Not true. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. US-based B2B sales management solutions provider Selling Power conducted a survey of sales and marketing executives and found that small and medium-sized businesses that implemented e-commerce initiatives achieved improvements in revenue, sales growth, and customer satisfaction that were on par with their bigger counterparts.
However, while all survey respondents realised benefits from their e-commerce efforts, significantly higher gains were reaped by organisations that took a more comprehensive approach to e-commerce. According to the Selling Power survey, organisations with broad e-commerce initiatives in place saw an increase in online revenue of 76% for new accounts and 10% for existing ones versus organisations with more limited e-commerce initiatives.
Ariba, a SAP company, is the world’s business commerce network.