The business world was dramatically transformed in two years, from 2020-2022. Now, as the threat of the pandemic recedes, the world has entered what is called a New Normal.

This article will focus on what this has meant for B2B product management processes and protocols. As will be evident, while there are radical departures in some areas, the emerging techniques are, in many ways, an evolution of the core aspects that have been perfected over time.

Core Processes in Building a B2B Product

Therefore, a quick glance at what is involved in building a B2B product is essential.

Let’s start with a basic definition – product management involves formulating a strategy for creating, testing, launching, and commercializing a new product.

The stages of B2B product development include:

Identifying a gap or pain point

Correctly identifying a massive gap in the market is a critical starting point. Look for a problem that most users find difficult to overcome. In most cases, this already exists in the information available with the company – in the form of customer feedback or trends, both positive and negative, in customer retention. The data needs to be well organized and intelligently analyzed.

Remember, dramatically ‘new’ products are rare. Most of what is accepted as ‘new’ is often a marked improvement on something that already exists or comes from applying solutions arising from technological change.

Ideating and creating a solution

The process of developing a solution involves a mix of thought and action. The first shoots of a solution usually emerge after many sessions of ideation and brainstorming, often with a specially constituted new product development team. The sessions should have people with a mix of talents to make the process multi-dimensional. All participants should have a good grasp of the nature of the market and the ‘personalities’ of the target audience. All concepts that emerge after an initial churning need to be further assessed for commercial viability before the development of actual working models.

At this point, a team with the necessary skills would need to experiment to try and build early prototypes that give concrete shape to the best concepts. There will be multiple stages and sustained back and forth between the two teams before any model can move forward.

Testing and fine-tuning its functionality

A plan has to be drawn up first for limited testing of the early prototypes and later to explore feedback from a broader sample of the target audience. Once again, the process could have multiple rounds, with each new insight gained from the consumer reactions helping to enrich and strengthen the final offering.

Launch, Marketing, and Commercialisation

After a final product deemed market-worthy has been created, it is time to take it to live. This stage will include the launch process, the various phases of market development, and ensuring that the new product becomes a commercial success. The vast majority of new products do not pass the commercialization test successfully and need to be modified or ‘killed,’ i.e., withdrawn.

Emerging New Paradigms in B2B Product Management

For B2B product managers in 2022, two critical defining aspects of the New Normal stand out – the need to minimize overcrowding and maintain social distance on the one hand and the growing realization that technology and digitization have transformed the means of interaction on the other.

Both are legacies of the pandemic, and while the stress initially placed on social distancing and the need to minimize overcrowding in closed spaces is receding, it will be an area of concern for some time.

Digitization of B2B Spaces is Here to Stay

However, the appreciation of digitization that grew phenomenally during the pandemic seems to have taken deeper roots.

A McKinsey & Co study conducted soon after the first phase of the pandemic indicated that B2B buyers and sellers believed that the shift to digital interaction was a substantial part of the emerging reality. Over 75% of the respondents said that developing appropriate tools had ensured that many B2B processes could be completed without in-person meetings.

Many new digital products that had emerged out of temporary needs during periods of lockdown and restricted travel, or others at various stages of development, received a considerable boost over the past three years. Nothing exemplified this better than Zoom (see case study), a product developed to address specific pain points within the communications industry, rapidly advancing to substantial commercial success in a short time.

Future Avenues in B2B Product Management

The cutting edge of digital tech, including machine learning and advanced big data analytics, will likely determine the refined contours of the B2B product world shortly.

Insights from a study by Bain & Co indicate that many larger companies have begun utilizing this tech to add value to their B2B customers and boost revenue. This trend is not limited to the new world of digital start-ups but can also be seen in what the study calls ‘old-line industries’ dealing in ‘commodities. Innovations driven by such tools span diverse areas, including improvements in quality, greater flexibility, and many others. The report incorporates summaries of a few case studies, including Orica, a supplier of explosives to mining companies, and Monsanto, which straddles the space of chemicals and agriculture.

What the Future Holds

Developing new B2B products follows the core principles of product management even in the post-pandemic world in 2022. But, some exciting new developments, especially in digital tech, are redefining some boundaries and could lead to even more dramatic changes in the future. To learn more about these technologies, Seekho here. Download our app today!


Write A Comment