Chapter 7: B-to-B Innovation The New Frontier of Fantasy
Companies in business-to-business markets often look at innovation a consumer-driven revolution and not something that applies to them. Their primary customers have been all about price and functionality, not lifestyle and desire. Because only one company can be the cheapest and price-driven, commoditization stifles growth; these companies must find the power of innovation. Now the same high-value experience is starting to be expected even for business-to-business products and services. Meeting these expectations requires not simply research and development but also a thoughtful strategic plan.
Many industrial technologies are mass-produced but are usually designed and manufactured with a cost-cutting commodity mind-set. A bolt is a bolt is a bolt, and so the company that makes them cheapest will sell more. But someone will be the first to design a bolt with attention to ergonomics of use, with color codes that instantly communicate different thread sizes, and with a brand identity that associates those innovations with the company that makes them. And that company will find itself with growing profits while everyone else desperately works to stay in the black by continuing to cut production costs. In other words, the form and function will create value for both the company and the purchaser.