Categorized | Industry News

Tweet

Posted on 23 July 2019

B2B eCommerce & Social Media: Power Electronics 2.0

 

Dr. Walter Demmelhuber

Also in the power electronics sector, companies are moving slowly into the New Media. The main challenge is that B2B New Media is not yet a clearly defined science and companies are unsure of how to proceed

 

By Dr. Walter Demmelhuber, Head of SindoPower International, Co-Founder of PowerGuru, and University lecturer for B2B eCommerce & Social Media at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

 

The main challenge for technology companies is that they are used to a >90% success rate of their development projects. Even when unforeseeable issues occur, more money is poured in and in most cases such projects will be successful technology-wise although not necessarily from a business case standpoint.

The internet mentality is completely different. It is ‘Champagne for everybody’ when the success rate is higher than 10% and non-success is so common that one is only associated with failure when a success is never coming up. But this also means that the market introduction is different. One goes in quick and dirty (an absolute horror for engineers), check if there is customer interest and in case of positive feedback, moves fast to improve and expand. Otherwise kill immediately all activities and try again with a different approach.

But what most B2B companies do regarding social media is to create major budgets, do endless internal rounds of what the customers might need, listen to all the knock-out arguments most internal pessimists come up with, ask agencies to create the most polished portals and then are surprised that visitor numbers are low due to lack of interest.

If you visit the Top 100 blogs (unrelated to B2B) worldwide you will also find some of the Top Ugly websites there. But they all have one point in common: they care about the user and discovered what the users are interested in. B2B companies tend to care about their corporate identity, their appearance and the message they want to transmit. That suddenly with the New Media compared to the Old Media the users have the capability to show ‘we are not interested in what you are showing us’ is scary for the marketing departments should not surprise anybody.

Screenshot of Powerguru power electronics website

But instead of relying on old marketing measures which are only measurable with difficulty, a new mindset needs to be created taking into account the needs of our customers and readers. If not, very easily leaders in the market can easily monopolize the customer activities online.

Traditionally, customer care is usually split between a ‘one-face-to the customer’ approach and a customer care which looks after - usually smaller - customers in a centralized way. Nevertheless both customer segments can enjoy an additional customer care approach intensified by online media tools.

An example would be the Online Chat function as provided by Infineon and Semikron, but also by Farnell, Mouser and SindoPower which allows customers to chat in writing directly with sales representatives or engineers. This is a tool typically used by nonnative English speakers who have no problem in writing, but in oral understanding when speaking. Towards the customer the big advantage of chatting is that he gets an immediate response; with an e-mail, the response time is unclear.

Image - Tech chat online

For a company the advantage is that a customer question can be refined immediately to avoid that answers by eMail ping-pong are created which do not cover the customers’ requirements. The challenge for companies is to provide a multi-language 24h/5d work shift system. Experience has shown that chat is used by both large and small customers alike.

Especially general product know-how can be made accessible to all customers centrally. One should keep in mind that even the best key account manager knows only several dozen of people within the key account. But there will be hundreds or thousands within the key account who actually require information and do not know whom to contact. So key account micro sites on the company home page can provide customer-specific knowhow centrally with additional options for feedback, interaction and requests for personal attention in this closed circle.

An obvious example are configurators and design-support tools many companies make available to their customers online. Even with the most perfect ones customers might have questions while using them. If such tools are not accompanied by real-time applications in case of questions (phone number, chat) then the usability is limited – there is a reason why so many users do not continue a configurator until the end.

Screenshot of Sindopower online power electronics shop

The same applies to the general display of company and product information. Compared to the old company websites where information was only stored online, new social tools allow the customers to reach back easily to the company with feedback or requirements and this interaction can be measured with key performance indicators giving guidelines where to improve.

Principally companies can choose to build up their own platforms or use readily available platforms where direct access is possible or registration of users already available (YouTube, Xing, Linkedin, Facebook). In the second case one has to keep in mind that such public social media platforms might be blocked within companies due to ITregulations (typically YouTube, Twitter or Facebook are not available in company networks) and a business use is therefore excluded.

Screenshot of Infineon Youtube channel

Let’s have a look at some examples from large companies active in these areas. Siemens is using YouTube, a closed group called ‘Erde 3.0’ at Linkedin, several blogs and online communities.

Infineon goes this way as well with a whole bunch of measures. A dedicated YouTube channel shows product and company know-how to inform customers; a forum covers social interaction between users and the real-time chat cares for more urgent questions.

Mitsubishi Electric and Weidmüller are using Facebook for promotional purposes.

At Semikron also customers are supported by 24h/5d chat and SindoPower as the eCommerce daughter company sells products via eCommerce; regarding social media activities Semikron has chosen to interact centrally with customers and users in a partnering model. Together with Bodo’s Power, Epcos, LEM, Mersen, Proton Electrotex, Semikron, SindoPower and Weidmüller the cooperative platform PowerGuru (www.powerguru.org) was created.

One of the biggest challenges in the power electronics sector is that the user base is limited. Let’s assume there are 100.000 – 200.000 power electronics engineers worldwide. Based on the segment, at most several thousands are specifically of interest to one’s company. Only several hundred of them go back regularly to your company website and only several dozen of them are really Internet Power Users, meaning that they engage regularly in a fruitful intercommunication by online media. The result of this can be seen easily when even very large companies hardly see any activity on their forum.

Companies have several possibilities to move forward in this new terrain:
• form a partnering with established players both in eCommerce and social media and use synergies
• this increases substantially the user base and allows for high interaction probability
• share social media experience between partners and avoid reinventing the wheel and repeating common mistakes
• pass through the learning curve themselves with a department which acts according to B2B marketing rules
• abstain from B2B online activities, but not because of fear, but due to a limited customer base which is handled better directly

In a nut shell: we are not supposed to be scared of eCommerce, social media, or the readers and customers. We should be scared of our own inability to handle new trends! Is it not the dream of all of us that the customers actually interact and come to us on their own initiative? Why are we blocking the doors?

 

If you are interested in joining PowerGuru as a company to gain more experience in B2B Social Media please have a look at About us or write to: contact@powerguru.org

 

 

VN:F [1.9.17_1161]
Rating: 6.0/6 (2 votes cast)
B2B eCommerce & Social Media: Power Electronics 2.0, 6.0 out of 6 based on 2 ratings

This post was written by:

- who has written 113 posts on PowerGuru - Power Electronics Information Portal.


Contact the author

Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.