Tomorrow’s Most Important B2B Investment Is Usable Digital Infrastructure

Usable Digital Infrastructure Important B2B Investment

Software is eating the world, with B2B enterprise solutions transforming key operations across sectors.

However, for the promise of interoperable digital advances to grow into a modernized ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders, businesses must first have deep enough pockets and advanced enough pre-existing infrastructure to be able to perform and maintain these next-generation integrations.

For some organizations, that is proving to be a heavy lift.

This, as The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that grocers investing in new tech are running into a big problem. The aging hardware and remote locations of many stores can’t support their fancy new solutions.

The digital transformation and pandemic-era isolation guidelines rapidly evolved the grocery shopping experience, with solutions geared toward providing customers with a seamless, digitally integrated experience taking operational primacy and businesses investing in tools to support online ordering, curbside pickup, contactless checkout and more.

On the back end, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled inventory tracking systems, smart shelves and connected displays, all-in-one employee management systems, and other internal tech advancements saw a similar boost.

New PYMNTS research in the “Global Digital Shopping Index” found that 87% of consumers use digital features to shop and pay for purchases, even when shopping in a store, and using smartphones, apps and digital features gives consumers greater confidence and certainty about their purchases.

But many grocery stores lack the internet infrastructure to power new initiatives, meaning that the B2B white space in the sector is more likely to be captured, at least at first, by telecommunications providers, not the enterprise solution providers building on those networks.

When systems aren’t interoperable, or don’t work well together, it creates more costs — and in today’s dampened macroeconomic environment, more costs can critically hamstring growth.

Inroads Being Made to Old Standards

Businesses will have to buy more bandwidth and invest in strategic operational architecture to properly leverage today’s advanced tools and ensure they are not left behind by more modern competition.

Making these investments even more mission critical, PYMNTS research found that the presence or absence of specific digital shopping and payment features is playing an increasingly key role in how consumers decide which merchant gets their business.

For instance, data from the PYMNTS study “Big Retail’s Innovation Mandate: Convenience and Personalization,” revealed 74% of grocers think that consumers would be very or extremely likely to switch merchants if digital coupons and rewards were not provided to in-store customers.

But for legacy businesses in remote areas struggling with meeting their strategic digital goals, hope is not lost.

The emergence of 5G networks may offer businesses a chance to leapfrog the prospect of playing catch-up with incremental infrastructure investments and allow them to capture next-generation broadband speeds that can properly support cutting-edge technology and drive beneficial shopper experiences.

5G networks can meet or exceed the bandwidth demands of next-generation solutions and internal system improvements without organizations having to dig new trenches for cables or install new wiring.

With the current presidential administration reportedly considering cutting off Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from U.S. suppliers over national-security concerns, the present environment is ripe for those telecommunication businesses not facing U.S. sanctions to capture valuable B2B spend and win market share.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Even those businesses with a tech stack capable of handling next-generation B2B software, integrations harbor enterprise usability worries.

A slate of recent mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the IT space has commercial businesses worried that a coming subsequent consolidation of services will require them to adapt to new capabilities with costly overhauls to their existing organizational architecture.

While business leaders traditionally make careful decisions about where to invest their technology dollars, concentration in the software space may blindside organizational heads with add-on tools that require additional and even unwanted modifications to internal processes.

Still, PYMNTS research shows that a majority (70%) of marketplaces expect investments in accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) innovations to improve their relationships with vendors.

Efficient communication is increasingly vital across both sides of the B2B transaction, as businesses look to scale their operations while leveraging data to save costs and streamline processes.

The B2B payment landscape is in the midst of a pivotal migration toward modern solutions, as integrated and automated solutions are increasingly taking center stage.

In order to accelerate growth within this new landscape, organizations will need to make sure they have the appropriate infrastructure and network on-ramps in place to handle its next generation, digital-first demands.

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