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Now happening: Self-service takes over B2B

Most of us are accustomed to handling things quickly and independently, usually on a mobile device or online, both at home and work. B2C self-service solutions have swiftly become a part of our everyday lives.

More recently, also companies in the B2B sector have started to rethink their position. They’ve realized that in order to respond to increased user expectations, they, too, must use self-service to reshape their operations and business. Opting out of this development is not an option if they want to remain relevant to their stakeholders.

Luckily, well designed self-services are more than just a way to stay relevant. They are likely to bring other benefits as well.

”Successful self-service development can play an essential role on so many levels. It can, for example, guide healthy business development, improve stakeholder interaction, advance service quality, enhance operational efficiency and build a sustainable ecosystem for value creation,” lists Etteplan’s Antti Ojaranta, Business Architect, Retail and Payments.

Self-service can lead to sustainable value creation for a broader ecosystem

A subcontractor’s driver can deliver raw material independently to the storage, the accountant has access to key data, or builders can buy tools from an automated pro shop without any human contact. Many of the benefits of self-service are the same, whether in a B2B or a B2C environment: efficiency, transparency and ease of use.

However, value creation for a more comprehensive ecosystem is a benefit that becomes especially relevant in the industrial setting.

“Well-designed self-service solutions support systematic stakeholder management and, in the end, that’s what really makes or breaks a business. Of course, with stakeholders, we don’t mean just customers but also other groups like employees, subcontractors, and business partners,” Ojaranta explains.

Indeed, offering well-functioning and usable self-service solutions can take you a long way in building trust between you and your stakeholders. And if you can incorporate these solutions into your value creation network, you will come out with a sustainable ecosystem that benefits everyone.

”A general demand for sustainability has accelerated the development of digital business models in the industrial environment and, in essence, a good business model takes your entire value network into account,” summarizes Ojaranta, whose team specializes in delivering software solutions that connect seamlessly with different devices.

Baby steps and a digital state of mind

It seems simple enough on paper, but how do you make such win-win value creation happen? The answer is: with baby steps and constant development. Best digital self-service solutions are created one small step at a time, with continuous iteration and testing with users.

”We recommend step-by-step development for all digital self-service solutions. It guarantees that developers receive immediate feedback on the service, which, in turn, offers guidance as to whether the service development and overall ecosystem value creation head in the right direction or not,” Ojaranta states.

The first prerequisite for self-service development is that you have an idea of what the digital self-service intends to solve, and why the user should adopt the service. It must be clear to everyone for whom and for what purpose the service is intended.

Second, it’s critical to keep in mind that developing a digital service is not a one-time investment. The life cycle of a digital self-service also continues after the first implementation – and its use and operations must be monitored and developed actively.

In the end, it’s the organization’s attitude towards self-service development what matters. Digitalization is not a place where an organization can stop by, but rather a state of mind that must be present in everything the organization does.