B2B ecommerce keeps growing...and growing: New research from Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2021. By the end of 2017, Forrester expects eCommerce to reach $889 billion and represent 11% of total B2B sales in the US, while the total percentage of B2B buyers that research their purchases online will rise from 38% to 55% over the next four years.\nTo succeed in B2B digital commerce, however, companies have to meet constantly-rising customer expectations. After all, B2B buyers are also consumers who have learned to set the bar high \u2014 thanks to high-quality digital experiences they enjoy with companies like Amazon, Uber and AirBnB. They expect quality and consistency across devices, anywhere, anytime, and they expect nothing less from their B2B vendors. Research from KPMG\u2019s 2016 Global CEO Survey revealed that 88% of CEOs are concerned about the loyalty of their customers, so customer experience is clearly becoming a significant brand differentiator in the age of digital.\nBut legacy solutions won\u2019t cut it in this environment, because they don\u2019t provide the cohesive, streamlined purchasing process, holistic experience and enhanced customer engagement that\u2019s necessary to compete, says Justin Hoss, principal, Advisory and the\u00a0National Technology Sector Leader for Life Sciences\u00a0at KPMG. Instead, companies must work towards implementing a customer-centric B2B sales platform that meets the expectations of today\u2019s customers. \u201cLegacy processes and systems can really impede progress, so CIOs and technology executives must lead from the top and get their organizations to \u2018think digitally\u2019 while moving their organization swiftly through this journey,\u201d he says.\nAn agile mindset is critical for B2B commerce success\nIn order to take B2B customer-centricity to the next level when it comes to commerce technology, the organization has to get in the mindset that agility is critical, and by focusing on burst and sprints, a CIO will move the organization forward.\n\u201cThis mindset is the biggest obstacle for most global organizations,\u201d says Hoss, who points out that failure should be an option as long as it is quick. \u201cThen, you can learn and move on from there,\u201d he explains.\nCIOs, he continues, need to focus on innovation. \u201cYou would be surprised what a small change can do to one\u2019s behavior,\u201d he says. Innovation is critical, especially in fast-moving biopharma organizations and other global firms, he explains, and a great deal of innovation can come right from their commerce platforms \u2013 creating a whole new market.\u00a0\nHow one pharma company boosted B2B customer centricity\u00a0\u00a0\nOne KPMG client, a global specialty biopharmaceuticals manufacturer, faced two significant challenges. One, they were on a transition service agreement with their former medical device parent, and the platform, as well as the processes, were \u2018built for purpose\u2019 for that organization. Secondly, it wasn\u2019t biotech or biopharma customer-centric, which significantly hampered the enterprise\u2019s agility to support its network of distributors, specialty pharma providers and national health services organizations \u2013 which is significantly different than a traditional medical device company.\nIn a B2B digital commerce environment in which orders often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the purchasing experience must drive the solution design. The platform and technological underpinnings must support the carefully purpose-built buying experience. \u00a0So, KPMG worked to help the client implement a digital commerce system that would suit the needs of and streamline the purchasing process for its customers.\n\u201cThe company also will be driving more orders to the digital platform \u2013 because it is easier than picking up the phone, which is the case for most short orders today,\u201d says Hoss. \u201cIn the future, the platform will be flexible enough to offer additional automation via digital labor and artificial intelligence.\u201d\u00a0\nLessons for B2B digital commerce success\nHoss cites several important lessons and tips for those looking to succeed in B2B digital commerce:\u00a0\nDon\u2019t focus on perfection \u2014 ever. When retiring a legacy platform, says Hoss, start with an unconstrained systems model and implement in small functional releases, based on what the \u2018as a service\u2019 platform offers to you today. \u201cI always say in IT, 'hope for future platform' is not a strategy, it will get you all stuck in the muck and the mire,\u201d he explains. \u201cDon\u2019t spend a lot of time on \u2018current processes\u2019, as they will undoubtedly constrain your art of the possible thinking.\u201d\u00a0\nGet into mindset of \u2018constant beta.\u2019 CIOs and technology executives can focus too much effort on \u2018picking the right platform\u2019, with drawn out software selection process and contractual models. \u201cIn the digital world, the platform will shift as the technology and your organization evolves,\u201d says Hoss. \u201cIT needs to get into the mindset of \u2018constant beta\u2019 in both process and systems.\u201d\u00a0\nBeing nimble is critical in this new digital ecosystem. In the B2B life sciences world and other global firms, being nimble is essential \u2014 which means to be easily adaptable in what Hoss calls the 3 \u201cPs\u201d \u2014 partners, platforms and processes. \u201cThe digital ecosystem will constantly be morphing,\u201d he explains. \u201cSo should you.\u201d\nFocus on the user, not the technology. Journey mapping, which maps the most crucial factors influencing the customer in given situations, is especially helpful when designing a new end-to-end digital solution. \u201cEach user in the process needs to be identified by their persona, and not only will this help with overall process architecture, but will help you jumpstart the behavior change management activities that are needed for such a large change,\u201d says Hoss. Changing the technology is the easy part, he emphasizes. Changing the organizational and customers mindset \u201cto do things differently" is the challenge.