You are surely aware of B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer); maybe you are not familiar with B2I as in ‘Business to Industry’, also an acronym for ‘Business to Infinity’ (and beyond!) or ‘Business to Institution’.
I think, however, that it is time to expand our horizon and progress forward towards the next meaning of B2I: ‘Business to Innovation’. To avoid any confusion and for the sake of the readers of this article, let’s call it B2Innov.
The evolution of development tools and accessibility to cheaper proof-of-concept-level hardware and software have changed the way innovation creeps into our everyday world. With the help of funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, more wannabe innovators have the opportunity take a shot at starting their own business or just trying their ideas to see if there is a business opportunity. As a result, they have become a new market focus for many companies that have been servicing consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B).
The convergence of markets
B2B oriented companies have been looking at many ways to address the mass market and get out of the “high-volume, low margin” area, promoting flexibility and being able to smooth out the peaks and valleys of the OEM business. Volume and margin pressure combined with this innovation migration now entices these companies to consider “B2C-like” drivers in their planning. As a consequence, some of them are now migrating and evaluating a new version of B2C to address B2Innov and adapt to their new-found proximity to the end customer in their effort to differentiate their product and services for this new market segment.
As a consequence, B2B companies need to learn to be nimble in managing expectations in their business clients, and stretch to address a broader customer base who, until now, have not been part of their normal 30,000 feet business approach. A great example is the acquisition of Farnell/ Newark by the Avnet group to help access the broader base of innovators, doubled up with the crowdsourcing engine Hackster. The B2B is expanding its reach towards B2Innov to ensure it is capturing the possible market growth of the future and create loyalism to its brand.
On the other side of the spectrum, companies like Conrad Electronics have been moving from the mass market retail business, adding features for innovators to help drive future volume business and become a channel of distribution for loyal future businesses.
Distribution giants like Amazon have joined in with Amazon-Launchpad to help start-ups with top notch global access to the mass market and secure a slice of future product innovation to their channel.
The big winners are the innovators and entrepreneurs as they have an expanded choice in supplier channels, allowing them to start small and access B2C and B2B supply chains, making the best of their newly found need for support. They are able to start small, use crowdfunding engines to initiate and validate their idea, get technical support, benefit of world class supply chain, manufacturing support and world class distribution channel to quickly ramp-up and access a broad customer base. In return, the expectation is loyalty to “pay-off” the investment done by their B2B or B2C “protector”.
As market expands and innovation continues to fuel new businesses, there has not been any better times to get started with new product development.
So, is B2I going to expand to B2Innov? The floor is yours: give us examples about how you have been able to get started and benefit of the convergence of supply chain and support for the launch of your product. We are interested to know more about your findings and life experiences.
Enjoy the ride!