Last year, for the first time in history, use of the Internet through a mobile device surpassed use through a personal computer. Until that point, the Bring Your Own Device trend was merely one for companies to keep in the back of their minds. But with hard data to back up predictions of the massive rise in mobile use, enterprises had to put their mobile strategy front-and-center.
The attention given to mobile hasn’t only been from the B2C arena: B2B companies have propelled a new wave in competition focused on the rise in mobile in office. The discussion, however, has mostly centered around the demand for B2B buyers to have the same online shopping experiences as individual consumers. But B2B’s need for personalized experiences reaches far beyond eCommerce, and it’s the mobile device that is at the forefront of meeting those demands.
A B2C Approach To B2B
Multiple studies have independently concluded that B2B buyers are seeking out personalized experiences that mimic those encountered when acting like individual consumers. Forrester Consulting research released last November found that B2B interactions that are more B2C-like fuel “transition of product discovery and buying behaviors from offline to online and mobile environments.” About half of the respondents in the Forrester survey agreed that they would prefer to make work-related purchases through the same device through which they make personal purchases.
Separate findings by Acquity Group found that digital shopping cart abandonment is high when B2B buyers do not experience an easy browsing and checkout experience on a supplier’s website. Further, researchers found that B2B buyers will ditch a supplier website altogether and instead do their procurement through B2C eCommerce behemoth Amazon if a supplier doesn’t meet a buyer’s expectations.
The majority of these surveys focus only on the eCommerce experience of B2B shoppers. But the demand to be treated like a consumer extends to more than just eCommerce operations. B2B workers are seeking out personalized services across all areas of their business operations, and the mobile revolution is stepping up to meet that demand.
Enterprise Apps Mirror B2C Services
As B2C smartphone giants compete for B2B market share, startups are themselves filling a gap of developing mobile apps for the workforce that operate similarly to their B2C counterparts.
Social media, for example, has begun to push out new enterprise-facing platforms for the mobile device. While LinkedIn is strengthening its B2B services, newcomers like BusinessVibes are offering mobile-compatible social media platforms made just for B2B users, mixing B2C features like instant messaging with B2B offerings like the development of a mobile store for suppliers.
B2C ride sharing app Uber is also strengthening its enterprise capabilities by providing new ways for corporate travel managers to monitor employee travel and facilitate Uber trips’ presence on the expense sheet. Meanwhile, new rivals like Easy Taxi and Gett are providing B2B versions of ride sharing mobile services, which offer the same ease of consumer apps like Uber and Lyft but with added features for business travel and expense management.
In fact, the on-demand revolution — which has gained the most traction within the consumer-facing app market — is now expected to penetrate the B2B sector. B2B employees now want the ability to access, for example, a temporary workforce, catering or IT services in much the same way a consumer wants access to on-demand delivery or laundry services.
Perhaps the most anticipated mobile adoption trend for B2B is in financial services. Consumers have fueled groundbreaking innovations in mobile finance, payments and wallets, helping consumers make purchases on the go and manage their personal finance.
Businesses are now following suit as app developers offer mobile cash flow management and spend visibility solutions. A survey by Timetric released last March found that more than half of the companies they researched deploy mobile payments. Earlier this month, HSBC revealed its B2B expansion plan that reflects the financial institution’s preparation for B2B mobile payments adoption, citing the success of its HSBCnet mobile payments service among corporate clients.
A Future Of Competition
As innovators respond to that demand, app developers are seeking out new ways to offer consumer-like services to B2B users in addition to meeting their unique corporate needs. This shift has led mobile technology leaders like Apple, Google and Microsoft to up their B2B game and fight for their share of the B2B market.
It is perhaps no surprise that the leaders in consumer mobile technology are slated to become the leaders in B2B mobile services, too. B2B has spoken: For mobile players to come out on top in business-to-business, they must take the B2C approach.