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For businesses big and small, the last few years have been a whirlwind of digitalization propelled by ever-expanding IT budgets. This spending has largely continued despite current economic uncertainty — but while B2B technology leaders are still buying tech, they are also seeking ways to be more efficient and value-oriented about the tools and software they’re buying.
This is especially true in the enterprise ecommerce space, as business sellers continue to adjust to the cash-light market that’s prevailed over the past 12 months. As B2B companies become more reliant on digital solutions to drive sales and cut costs, CTOs and CIOs will be increasingly involved in business resilience initiatives, ensuring that both emerging and established technologies are harnessed to help navigate a rapidly evolving commercial ecosystem.
Here are four objectives all B2B tech executives should be striving to meet.
1. Keep a close eye on cost efficiency
Global IT spending is projected to reach $4.5 trillion this year — indicative of the trend that when financial storm clouds gather, productivity-driving technologies are valued more than ever. Despite this, CTOs and CIOs will still be expected to achieve more with less for the foreseeable future, which means finding leaner solutions that offer a lower cost of ownership.
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Optimizing costs doesn’t necessarily mean refusing to sign new software contracts. Often, in fact, the smartest way to curb costs is to replace legacy systems with more modern and flexible tools that better suit the organization’s current business needs. An ecommerce solution that can manage both B2B and B2C applications might replace two separate legacy tools, for instance, dramatically reducing overall IT costs.
No-code and low-code sales tools also alleviate the financial burden of complicated software maintenance — something that can swallow a huge chunk of a company’s technology budget. CTOs and CIOs should focus on platforms with integrated development tools so any repairs can be made inexpensively in-house.
2. Build for agility
Against a backdrop of rising inflation and soaring prices, it’s easy for businesses to slip into “status quo” mode: content simply to weather the storm with no expectations of expansion. This may sound like a judicious strategy — but in the fiercely competitive B2B space, if you aren’t preparing for growth then you’re losing ground.
IT leaders need to keep scalability front-of-mind in everything they do over the coming months. That doesn’t mean over-extending yourself, of course, especially during these tough times. But it does mean being strategic, and putting agile and flexible systems in place now so that you’re ready for any curveballs the market throws at you, and able to rapidly adapt and grow in response to new opportunities.
3. Focus on flexible deployment
Business sellers are having to work increasingly hard on customer acquisition. As one enterprise sales leader put it recently: “Last year, the fish were jumping in our boat. This year, we have to go fishing.” Flexibility is the key to any successful B2B initiative — if you can’t adapt quickly to shifting patterns of demand, customers will simply switch to suppliers that can.
For this reason, as we move further into 2023, IT leaders will need to prioritize flexible software deployment. Companies must have the power to decide whether their business software is hosted on a public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Digital Ocean, or sits within a private cloud.
Better still, confronted by uncertain market conditions, B2B technology leaders should explore hybrid solutions — solutions that combine private and public clouds to maximize scalability and resilience at times of peak demand, while also keeping costs low.
4. Don’t slouch on cybersecurity
As far as cyberattacks go, 2022 was a bruising year for businesses: Assaults on U.S. organizations grew 57%, while U.K. companies faced a 77% surge year-on-year. Unfortunately, with experts forecasting a spike in “cybercrime-as-a-service”, 2023 isn’t shaping up much better.
Given their high value orders, large transactions and diverse customer bases, B2B sellers are seen as easy prey for cyberattackers. The fact that few enterprises can survive even a limited period of online downtime further hardens the resolve of hackers, who are aware that many businesses would rather pay a ransom than rebuild a shattered digital system.
With this in mind, CTOs and CIOs must ensure cybersecurity measures are woven into the fabric of their ecommerce ecosystems, and not treated as an afterthought. It’s equally important to focus on customizable solutions that can be molded to meet the unique security needs of different sectors.
Seize new opportunities
The role of the B2B technology executive is becoming more demanding — of that, there is little doubt. Against the backdrop of deepening economic uncertainty, IT leaders are having to drive productivity, heighten efficiencies, safeguard against cybercriminals and otherwise help future-proof their enterprises, while also cutting costs.
That’s a big ask that effectively puts IT leaders at the heart of strategic planning for their organizations, and requires tech decision-makers to step up and lead their companies in smarter, more sustainable and more strategic ways. It’s never been more important for CIOs and CTOs to combine their standard detail-oriented approach with an ability to see the big picture, and truly understand how software decisions and the broader tech stack can impact company-wide performance.
Fortunately, innovations in the ecommerce space are giving IT leaders the solutions they need to build out tech infrastructure that’s resilient, adaptable and agile enough to meet their organizations’ fast-changing needs. With the right mindset and a commitment to strategic thinking, it’s possible for IT leaders to build out the infrastructure needed to let their companies respond to changing market conditions, scale up and adapt to customers’ evolving needs, and unlock new efficiencies to keep total operating costs low.
Technology leaders who lean into these trends can keep their companies on an upward trajectory, ensure resilience in the face of challenges and build out the agile tech infrastructure needed to seize emerging opportunities.
Yoav Kutner is the CEO and cofounder of Oro, Inc.
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