The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Connecting Innovation, Technology & Distribution Value

Technology is just one aspect of a successful digital transformation process.

Technology is just one aspect of a successful digital transformation process. Just as important – and perhaps more so for distributors – are building the right business processes and organizational structures to make sure you are creating the best value for your customers. That’s the core emerging theme of our Digital Distributor Summit in June, and why we felt so strongly about the timing for this event.

“Let’s put up an e-commerce platform,” is a common refrain for many distributors feeling pressure to stay competitive with either Amazon Business or other national competitors who are investing heavily in strong digital customer support tools of all varieties. But there are implications around how a company needs to change the way it runs its business that go with becoming more digitally capable that many distributors struggle with. And that’s a gap that is tough to navigate.

That’s one of the driving reasons we created our MDM Digital Innovator Awards this year. There is no one right way to elevate the digital capabilities of your team and company. You can outsource some of it, but there’s a danger in applying a one-size-fits-all solution to very unique business challenges. 

We feel it’s important to call attention to the ways that distributors of all sizes and business models are innovating by leveraging digital. And as we profile our 2019 award winners in our last issue of MDM Premium, this issue and the next, we hope you’ll take away some ideas about the many ways this can be accomplished. 

I also hope you’ll have one or more team members participate in our June conference because this is the last chance for a year (before our 2020 Digital Summit) to help challenge and accelerate your “digital IQ” with some of the best distribution-specific minds and networking 

My take is that too many CEOs get focused on the shiny objects of technology. In our latest podcast, I had a great conversation with Mark Dancer, who will be a speaker at our June conference and is the author of the next Facing the Forces of Change report series by the national Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. Mark has been in research mode for more than a year. One of the many insights he shared with me in this podcast is that for business buyers, much of the value that distributors add comes either before or after the transaction. 

I think that’s a key differentiator that too many distributors don’t recognize. Another point Mark made is that one of the best practices around innovation is to think about your customer segments as communities. How can you serve each community in a way that positions you as a champion helping move this particular industry forward. That is extremely valuable branding and something that is very difficult for digital-only sellers to replicate.

For our part, MDM’s mission for more than 50 years has been to empower our customers with market intelligence and insights into how to create stronger value by creating strong, differentiated value for specific customer segments. That mission continues, and I hope you’ll listen to my podcast interview with Mark Dancer and consider sending your key leaders to our Digital Distributor Summit in June to strengthen your competitive position now, and not 12 months from now.


This blog is a sample of our Premium content. Read the latest issue of MDM Premium here.

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