While we continue to navigate the economic roller coaster of this year, there’s one industry that stands particularly poised to emerge stronger following this uncertainty: mission-critical B2B cloud software that enables employees inside companies of all shapes and sizes to perform their tasks remotely.
The first half of 2020 has proven tumultuous and challenging for the economy, to say the least. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every industry and business in one way or another as organizations adjusted—and continue to adjust—to remote work, changing customer priorities and new ways of conducting business.
The acceleration of technology adoption
It’s no secret that cloud-based software has been penetrating enterprise prior to this year. However, we experienced a fast and unexpected shift to a distributed workforce that occurred when employees were forced to work from home. This led to a realization for many organizations that they needed to meet that shift with cloud-based processes that allowed employees to continue to do their jobs and work together seamlessly—accelerating adoption of cloud software.
In many enterprises, mission-critical analytical and operating tasks are still being completed primarily offline. This offline activity runs the gamut all the way from reliance on legacy on-premise custom-built apps, to Access Databases, excel-based workarounds or even the old trusty yellow legal pads and post-it notes. While these legacy, offline business processes may have been adequate pre-Covid-19, they are a show-stopper in a digital world, where full departments of employees need to work together seamlessly to perform functions like closing monthly financials, verifying and processing payments and maintaining real-time monitoring for compliance. Send a workforce home and those paper records and sticky notes become a huge business issue because they’re no longer accessible by all who need them.
Every business leader has been forced in recent months to evaluate the big internal functions that keep their business moving. Can they successfully complete an audit remotely? Can they close on their monthly financials with the finance team spread out among home offices? CEOs are now staring at the future and thinking about how they can achieve everything they need to as a business with everyone working from home. If you’re still sitting on print legacy systems and internal systems that can’t be accessed, cloud-based B2B software is the answer. From the oil and gas industry to management of fuel operations at convenience stores, such technology is being deployed right now to both keep things moving through the pandemic and set businesses up for long-term success.
The “meat and potatoes” technology
Companies providing mission-critical B2B software tailored to specific verticals are proving their value during this crisis, retaining customers and accelerating growth, while many “unicorn” companies that are not addressing critical customer needs have experienced major layoffs and setbacks.
B2B software is built to last because people will center their businesses around it—it’s that critical. For example, Titan Cloud Software provides a cloud-based software platform that enables convenience store customers to automate the importation of test and inspection records to create efficiencies. The platform allows customers to scale quickly and maintain efficient processes as they grow—crucial in today’s environment. Additionally, Titan enables customers to more fully outsource the environmental function of their business, giving them the chance to reduce operating expenses and focus on their most important work.
While that’s not particularly exciting, it’s incredibly important at a time when nearly every business is looking for ways to streamline processes, lower operating expenses and focus their time and resources.
Expertise in niche markets
Another factor that makes the best B2B cloud software so valuable to its customers is the fact that many providers are solving niche problems in a specific vertical and bringing to the table deep domain knowledge. While some companies try to provide solutions that work for a myriad of industries, they’re unlikely to feel like a true partner to their customers if they don’t deeply understand the vertical in which that customer operates.
In the oil and gas industry, for example, it’s critical for any solutions provider to understand that it’s a very traditional industry with a big emphasis on personal relationships and a general hesitancy to take on new software. Having that knowledge, and understanding how to present the benefits of cloud software in a way that’s aligned with the industry’s values and comfort level, generally, are key to success.
One example here is W Energy, whose cloud-based oil and gas accounting software has helped customers consolidate those legacy systems, move financial reporting operations to the cloud and increase processing speed. Those would all be great benefits any time, but especially now as upstream and midstream oil and gas companies navigate volatile energy markets and need systems in place to ensure key business processes are streamlined.
That deep understanding of an industry makes it easy for software providers to ensure they are fulfilling a core need—developing and updating software that solves for the specific challenges of the industry—and continue to provide additional value. In the wake of the pandemic, Titan Cloud Software and W Energy both created educational content for customers on topics most relevant to their work.
B2B cloud software is proving its value by driving productivity in the enterprise, leveraging software to enable businesses to move faster, focus on the most important work and reduce operating expenses. At this time of economic uncertainty, those benefits remain top of mind for businesses adjusting to remote work and identifying areas of their business where remote access to processes that power core business functions is critical. As long as B2B cloud software companies continue to enable those shifts, the software they provide will remain mission critical to customers, allowing them to not only survive—but thrive—as we emerge from this period of economic uncertainty.
Brian Shortsleeve, Co-founder and Managing Director, M33 Growth