Industrial consumerism getting serious about disruptive growth

By 2020 industrial customers will demand a significantly more immersive buying experience.


In the past, industrial companies’ sales efforts relied on technology or product leadership to stay ahead of the competition. Today, they must successfully meet the rising service expectations of digitally empowered customers seeking the same levels of ease, transparency and service that they enjoy as consumers. Sales and marketing organizations need to focus less on product and more on the customer experience: continually differentiating the customer journey, leveraging digital technologies to improve established processes and ways of doing business, and becoming high performers in terms of process, organization and strategy.

New technologies and new competitors have disrupted what was once a simple, linear buying process in the B2B space. Industrial customers are behaving increasingly like consumers.



A (disruptive) step change in client interaction–B2B customers integrate and adopt "consumer" behaviours leading to new or different requirements towards suppliers. Established go-to-market models will change.

Industry Game Board

Customer Digital

*(e.g. Connected Products, IoT, Living Services, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality)


More knowledgeable, self-directed and informed, industrial customers seek seamless access to relevant and tailored expertise. Their expectations are rising constantly. They are also liquid and transcend traditional boundaries. Marketing and sales executives need to stay ahead of their customers’ expectations, leveraging digital technologies to boost performance, and designing a marketing and sales organization fit for the future.

Revamping customer interaction, structures and processes promises to deliver significant benefits. 84% of industrial executives believe that providing the differentiated experience that customers increasingly expect can boost their competitive advantage. Accenture project experience further suggests that high performing organizations could achieve an EBIT as much as 4% higher than their low and middle ranking peers.

To win in an increasingly digitized go-to-market environment three key priorities must be at the top of every industrial executive’s agenda:


By deepening understanding of the customer journey lifecycle, for all touch points, and all along the value chain, from pre-sales to delivery and services. The goal should be a 360° real time view of the customer—a view that will help develop strategies to address such critical issues as how to approach customers in an increasingly digitized world, the information they require, and their buying criteria.

Endeavor to:

Run a “day-in-the-life” pilot involving all stakeholders in customer interactions
Move from product-centricity to customer-centricity
Align all information across all channels (on- and off-line)


Aligning appropriate digital technologies with the customer journey to boost sales, satisfy customers and improve workforce efficiency. Successful digitization must be business driven. Leading companies use digital technologies to strengthen the top-line and tap efficiency gains. In fact, efficiency gains are funding their investments.

Endeavor to:

Run digital projects which must make a clear business contribution in terms of sales, EBIT or efficiency
Identify and deploy digital technologies that will make your customer interaction more efficient and effective


Providing strong leadership to encourage acceptance of new digitized processes and tools, and to ensure that the business is driving those capabilities by working toward common goals. Leading from the top, fostering collaboration and the right talent, and establishing a governance model to drive digitization will help remove silos and enhance transparency while pushing for efficiency gains to reinvest for growth and the development of new skills.

Endeavor to:

Foster collaboration and align target setting
Continue to drive process efficiencies
Provide direct channels to end users through eCommerce
Establish a governance model to drive digitization
Access and employ the right talent


Positioning for success in 2020 will be challenging. Traditional sales and marketing organizations will need to reimagine their customer interaction, structures and processes. Making the most of the growth and efficiency gains that industrial consumerism offers will also require a dramatic shift in mind-set.

The rewards of making that shift promise to be substantial. Industrial consumerism heralds exciting new opportunities for the sector’s sales and marketing organizations—and for the companies and brands they represent. Providing online software updates for a product, for example, boosts its value to the buyer, and thus loyalty to both brand and supplier. Indeed, providing digitally enabled products and services will be essential to successful sales in the future.


Bernd Hirschle

Bernd Hirschle

Lead Customer & Channels, Industrial Consumerism


"Industrial Consumerism will transform the way companies interact with their customers. Winning enterprises will deploy new technologies and re-imagine the organization of marketing, sales and services processes and structures: the key elements to competitive advantage in an increasingly digitized go-to-market environment."


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