How data-driven are front offices in B2B?

5 min read
Apr 29, 2024 1:54:32 PM
Why is data an essential component of commercial success? If your data is fragmented, you can't draw conclusions, you don't know what's working well and what's not, employees within your commercial department can't talk to each other, you don't know your prospects as well, and you can't serve your customer in the best possible way. Why is that? Very simple: there is no single-source-of-truth.


Steve Balmer hammered it into Microsoft for a reason: DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS. The movie has become legend. Did I hear Balmer say Data, Data, Data last?

No, unfortunately I don't hear that, but I'm sure that if he were on stage right now that he would be shouting that, or at the very least, should be shouting that.

Data, Data, Data,

Over the past 10 years, data, orbig data, has received a lot of attention. And rightly so. But that attention has not always resulted in the right actions. Let alone in the right revenues. Certainly in the commercial processin B2B organizations, there is still much to be gained.

If we put a magnifying glass over the business processes in B2B organizations, we see that a proportionally large part of the attention has gone to the primary processes of these types of organizations. In particular, the processes involved in producing and delivering the services/products. In our view, the most important primary process (read: marketing, sales, customer service - in other words: the front office) is still very much underexposed in this.

Data, information, knowledge and behavior

There are several reasons why the commercial process in B2B is not yet data-driven. Before we go into that, it should also be clear that when we talk about data, it cannot be seen separately from related concepts such as information, knowledge and behavior. Data, i.e. the zeros and ones, do not say anything by themselves. Data is always tied to a certain context and must be interpreted.

For example, the number 100. If it is about money (the context) then it is probably 100 euros or dollars. If it is about people (e.g. age) then it is 100 years. So in this way data becomes information.

Now suppose we turn a lot of data into information and interpret it, then we get knowledge. Simple: companies with a certain turnover (e.g. above 5 million) are 80% more likely to become customers of company X and make a profit in the process. You understand that that kind of knowledge must actually be converted into behavior. If not, that salesman is still making his rounds to customers who might become customers, but from whom you earn nothing.

How data-driven are the Front Offices in B2B ?

rganizations, we see that they are primarily facilitated by systems from the back office. These back office systems were once designed primarily as financial accounting systems, ERP systems or otherwise. Over time, they have slowly but surely manifested themselves in the front offices (marketing, sales, customer service) due to their firm position in the back office. This has been a logical step for both these software vendors and their customers. Especially because 10 to 15 years ago there were no alternatives for the front office.

However, that situation has changed considerably. It does mean that many front offices are sitting with on-premise/webbased systems that were not designed from the wishes/requirements of end users, but were created from existing back office IT systems that were never designed for that purpose. This also makes it extremely difficult to design thecustomer journey without friction and to collect data/information on all channels and to be able to adjust accordingly. Those systems in their architecture were never designed for that.

Front & backoffie structuur

Data-driven actions in the front office

Where people interact with people, systems must be supportive of our behavior. Logical you might say, but I think that if you would ask an average sales person if that is the case, you would get a big insufficient response. Sales really wants to use aCRM system if it increases the chance of deals and facilitates their work. Marketing very much wants automated target group selection for sales so that Sales Qualified leads automatically go that way. And Customer Support really wants to see all customer interactions that sales and marketing have had with that customer in the same system.

However, most back office systems are designed for processes and technical systems and much less for behavior. If you want a frictionless customer journey, you will need to keep your back office systems in the back office. Only when you have your front office tech stack in order can you boost your business data-driven.


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