• The implementation of best practices can often be hindered by cultural issues
  • Successful modern B2B businesses are authentic, collaborative, audience-centric and digitally savvy
  • Change in organization culture is a strategic imperative that must be acknowledged by everybody in the organization

The core prerequisite to successful digital transformation is cultural transformation. There is a famous quote typically attributed to Peter Drucker that says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s so true – and it’s so important to acknowledge that as you commit to your path of digital transformation.

If there is cultural lag or resistance to the changes you are trying to implement, it’s your Achilles’ heel and one that must be addressed before anything else you’re doing will be able to demonstrate the rewards for which you are hoping.

Most of my time at SiriusDecisions is spent helping clients solve their B2B business challenges related to strategic communications, content strategy, content marketing and social media. Oftentimes, the biggest roadblocks to operationalizing best practices in these areas come down to cultural issues that are still holding the organization back as a whole.

Ultimately, digital transformation and the modernization of the B2B organization require a cultural paradigm shift. Upskilling employees and investing in the latest tools and technology is, of course, important. However, if the right attitude and atmosphere is not in place, and there is no conscious effort to foster a receptive culture, then those investments in new skills and tools will not be any sort of magic bullet for modernizing the organization. 

The four telltale traits

Most B2B organizations understand what a modern corporate culture needs to look like to succeed in our current landscape. Those orgs demonstrate the following four telltale traits of modern B2B business culture: authentic, collaborative, audience-centric and digitally savvy.

Authentic. Authenticity isn’t just about corporate values – it’s about survival. In a digital world, being fake means failure. With the transparency and real-time nature that digital business and social media creates, any lack of authenticity or integrity as a company or by individual employees has an impact on the quality and perception of your brand.

Collaborative. De-siloing knowledge and data and executing an integrated go-to-market strategy requires a dramatic reduction in territorial behaviors and politics – and a dramatic increase in collaboration. Cross-functional interlock across sales, marketing and product has never been more important. Yet siloed functions and processes just within marketing are hurting B2B organizations as digital, content and field teams develop out-of-sync messaging, value propositions and campaigns that often compete with or contradict each other.

Audience-centric. We beat this drum all the time here at SiriusDecisions. It’s not just about being customer-centric; it’s about being audience-centric. Whether it’s a prospect, customer, partner or employee, the goal should to be to authentically connect with and serve your target audience. While we’ve all gotten on the content marketing bandwagon, many B2B organizations are still struggling with this paradigm shift to audience-centricity and “outside-in” thinking. 

Digitally savvy. You already get why this is important. But it’s important to have a culture that not only invests in new technologies and tools, but also has the right kind of people in place who will embrace the changes that digital brings and not resist them. Technology cannot fix everything, especially if the teams who are supposed to use that technology are resistant to changing the way they do things.

The hardest thing of all

Don’t expect your B2B business culture to change organically – it won’t. It’s a strategic imperative that needs to be proactively acknowledged and addressed by the executive team and by everyone within the organization. I consider it to be the number-one most important area that B2B organizations should be focused on today.

Just remember – it’s a journey, not a destination. It’s not going to be easy ­– and ignoring it to focus on the best MAP tool on the market or the next product launch isn’t going to make it magically disappear. It’s a critical issue and weakness within many B2B organizations that needs to be addressed.

What other cultural traits do you think are essential for a modern B2B org? Please leave a comment below.