All posts tagged: data

5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

The disruption caused by the global pandemic has led to some profound changes in our values, attitudes and behaviours to both our personal and work lives. For B2B marketers, this has accelerated the adoption of some existing trends, such as digital transformation and the increased use of data to understand and respond to changes in buyer behaviour, and embedding new ways of working through a more agile approach to marketing. It also helped to create some interesting new trends which we expect to see gain momentum in B2B marketing in 2021.

Customer centricity at the forefront

Most businesses think they know their customer, but there has been a tendency for businesses to focus on what they want to talk about, rather than what their customers want to know or will find most useful. The disruption of 2020 has certainly shone a light on this. Suddenly people were thinking and behaving differently, both in their personal and work lives, and buying decisions were often put on hold. In a poll conducted at our recent ‘Personas and buyer journey’ online bootcamp, we found that only 10% of attendees felt that their existing personas and buyer journeys were helping them hit their sales targets. In 2021, organisations will be focused on truly understanding what their customers want, their business environments and how they can best support them. Customer centricity therefore needs to be at the very forefront of every marketing decision, campaign and communication. Data and martech have key roles to play in achieving this consistently and at pace.

Being data driven is now fundamental

The need for marketing to be driven by data saw a renewed emphasis due to the chaos of the pandemic and the change in behaviours that followed. Marketers now need to be more data-driven than ever. To do this they first need to get better at capturing data. According to a recent report by IDC and Seagate, 44% of data available to organisations goes uncaptured, and 43% goes unused. Organisations also need to get better and distilling and activating data to turn it into actionable insights for the business. While there is certainly a role here for new AI technologies and machine learning to help make business decisions, most organisations need their marketing teams to get better at harvesting, understanding and gaining insights from data which drive improvements and allow meaningful interactions with the prospect or client.

Location displacement

The pandemic turned how we live and where we traditionally do things on its head. The requirement for us all to stay at home during national lockdowns and to continue working from home if possible, even when restrictions were eased, led to an increased demand for online experiences. These included the rise of virtual events, interactive tools or gadgets that make your prospects’ lives easier (such as this campaign ROI calculator) and personalised social selling that engages at a 1:1 level. This is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. In response to this, digital marketing not only needs to be front and centre, but ensuring a seamless omni-channel user experience is now a standard expectation in B2B.

Emotional connection

Emotional connection was a big trend in B2C marketing in 2020 as organisations sought to tap into and reflect the emotions that people were experiencing. A study by the B2B Institute at LinkedIn showed that strategies that appeal to emotions are 7x more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than those just delivering rational messaging. Research conducted by Google also shows that B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value (i.e. an opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice) and 68% of buyers who see personal value will pay a higher price for a service. B2B marketers need to become increasingly savvy on how to make best use of content and messaging to build an emotional connection with influencers and buyers in 2021. Those who can create campaigns that successfully appeal to people’s emotions will differentiate themselves from the pack.

Curiosity culture

As our approach to marketing at Bright is based on agile principles, we know that experimentation and failure are the start of success. For example, how do you know for sure if an emotion-led or benefit-led message is more effective? You have to test and experiment in order to learn and build. Of course, your data processes and analytics are the key to understanding what is working and what is failing. As more marketing functions adopt agile marketing principles, we expect to see an increase in curiosity and experimentation in B2B marketing campaigns.

Agile is the key

In fact, adopting agile marketing processes is the key to embracing all of these trends effectively. Understanding how to make proper use of data and research to drive decision making is the backbone of agile marketing. Testing different approaches, channels or messages (emotional vs rational) and constantly iterating and improving is another critical element of agile marketing. Agile marketing builds resilience, helping you pivot and adapt to current trends, and ultimately drive better results from your marketing that support your business goals. To find out how you can adopt agile marketing to better manage disruption during this pandemic, get in touch with a Bright expert.

Zoe Merchant5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021
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B2B tech trends set to soar in 2021

The top B2B tech trends to watch in 2021 

In response to the chaos and disruption caused by COVID, in 2021 we can expect to see technology being used to help us navigate our way out of the pandemic and set us on the path to recovery.  To help you prepare for what’s ahead, we’ve gathered the top B2B tech trends of 2021. 

Is your data agile and adaptive?  

One thing that will remain constant throughout 2021 is change. Businesses that are set to react and adapt quickly to change are more likely to succeedAnd with the pace of change driving digital transformation at speeddata also needs to be readily available and up-to-date to keep up. Gartner describe ‘intelligent composable businesses’ as organisations with better access to data, insights and the ability to respond quickly to those insights.  

Data also needs to be adaptive and tuned for machines rather than humans according to DeloitteAs machine learning takes over, older data models and infrastructure designed to support decision-making by humans rather than machines will slow down progressOrganisations need to disrupt the end-to-end data management chain by deploying new technologies and approaches. These include advanced data capture and structuring capabilities, in-depth analytics to identify connections between random data sets and next-generation cloud-based data stores. These all help to support complex modelling. Essentially, the aim is to allow for growing volumes of data to be agile and adaptive, ready for machines which can then be evolved to make real-time and scalable decisions that humans cannot. 

AI or machine learning — place your bet 

Machine learning is set to rapidly take over as the driver of organisational performance due to its ability to discover patterns and anomaliesgenerate insightsand make intelligent predictions and decisionsHowever, according to Deloittemany organisations are suffering from clunky development and deployment processes that slow down experimentation and collaboration amongst product teams, operational staff, and data scientists. The solution for 2021? A combination of engineering and operational discipline to drive business transformation known as machine learning operations – MLOpsMLOps is the application of development operations tools and approaches to industrialise and scale machine learning. This ranges from development and deployment through to ongoing maintenance and management. 

It’s important to recognise though that as machine learning develops, AI will not stand still. Bain predict the next trend in AI as“edge AI” – a network infrastructure which makes it possible for AI algorithms to run on the edge of a network, closer to or on the device collecting the data. With the shift to home working and changes in network trafficedge AI is set to accelerate due to its ability to preserve bandwidth and increase efficiency by processing information much closer to the devices that require it. This reduces latency issues and accelerates the generation of insights while lowering cloud services usage and connectivity costs and disruption.  

AI engineering is also shifting to incorporate itself within DevOps, rather than sitting as a separate entity, with the aim to increase the value of AI projects and reduce issues of governance, scalability and maintainability. Gartner predict that the operationalisation of AI will allow for more responsibility and accountability when it comes to trust, ethics, fairness, interpretability and compliance.  

Get ready for the inevitable crackdowns 

Big tech crackdownare springing up everywhere for large companies within the UK and US. It’s not a surprise that governments are therefore ready to implement new acts, code of conducts, legislation and penalties to regulate large tech companies, with the main focus on increasing competition and data privacy (BBC). But it’s not just governments set to strike. As cyberattacks increase and undermine the current approaches to cybersecurityGartner recognise that the threat has expanded due to the increase of a remote workforceIn 2021, cybersecurity mesh that allows the identity of a person or thing to define the security perimeter is paramount.  

Deloitte turn to the growing trend of ‘zero trust’ to implement this mesh – where every access request should be validated based on all available data points, including user identity, device, location, and other variablesData, applications, workloads, and other resources are treated as individual, manageable units to contain breaches, and access is provided based on the principle of least privilege. Automation and engineering are required to properly implement zero trust security architectures and can help strengthen security posture, simplify security management, improve end-user experience, and enable modern enterprise environments.  

The same goes for data – 2021 is set to be the year for blockchain to take centre stage. According to The Drumas decentralised finance continues to grow over the next few years, and increased demand for online financial products, it will need to constantly address the balance between decentralisation, security and scalability.Government bodies are incorporating blockchain for their activities, which suggests the regulation surrounding blockchain will become ever more keyWith the likes of Google Cloud taking steps to become a network block producer, it won’t be long before blockchain will be the new norm.  

Operate anywhere  

With the increase of home working set to continue into 2021, we’re not going to see the use of collaboration technology diminish anytime soon. Deloitte suggest that as companies further embrace home workinapproaches, the digital workplace’s deficits can be counteracted by embracing its positive aspects, including the data generated by workers own tools and platforms, and being able to monitor staff productivityThese can help organisations optimise individual and team performance, as well as customise the employee experience with personalisation, enabling remote work to be more productive and cost-effective than traditional offices.  

Gartner agree that an anywhere operations model will remain after the pandemic is over. The “digital first, remote first” model should be the default for business going forward and even physical spaces should be digitally enhanced. Both Gartner and the BBC refer to the contactless check-out system in physical stores as an example for 2021. Doors have also opened to a new remote working market for tech firms to exploit. The BBC expect more packages to be offered by internet service providers and tech firms, as well as enhanced security options, IT support and collaboration software.  

Equality with technology 

With companies embracing, or at the very least introducing diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) as one of their business imperatives for 2021the need for strategies that address bias and inequality are set to growDeloitte note that while HR often lead DEI strategies, technology leaders are required to play a critical role in designing, developing, and executing tech-enabled solutions to address increasingly complex DEI challenges. Deloitte expect to see a rise in organisations adopting new tools that incorporate advanced analytics, automation, and AI. These include natural language processing and machine learning, to help inform, deliver, and measure the impact of DEI effectively and reduce bias.  

Keep your finger on the pulse with health tech  

Health tech is set to soar in 2021 and beyond as rapid acceleration of health data collection gives the industry a huge opportunity to utilise emerging digital capabilities. These include AI and Machine Learning to improve treatment and care. We’ve already seen how they were critical in creation of the vaccine, as well as in contact exposure tech, and models to calculate transmission ratesHealth care apps are set to dramatically increase in users and health tech start-ups are likely to start popping up in droves. The Drum predict health tech will become instrumental in helping us all manage our personal wellbeing, as well as the quality of work for medical staff, and saving lives. 

In summary…

Whilst technology trends are set to drive continued disruption, they are also key opportunities for businessesOrganisations whcan embrace a ‘digital first’ approach will see themselves recover more quickly in 2021 and thrive in the years to come. The same can be said for organisations who are able to respond quickly, build resilience and adapt with pace – in other words those with agility.  

Interested in finding out how agile marketing can increase your ROI and align with your business goals? Book in a virtual cuppa with one of our agile marketing experts – we specialise in working with clients from the IT industry: hello@brightinnovation.co.uk 

Martha OrglesB2B tech trends set to soar in 2021
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