By Celine Thungaveloo, head of sales at XLink
In the business to business (B2B) space, customers are demanding greater flexibility and choice to achieve their own business agility goals. Agility is critical for survival within the highly competitive landscape of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is shaped by constant flux in the face of evolving customer demands, new technological innovations and, most recently, the global pandemic.
Business agility is about improving overall performance while equipping the business to sustain these improvements as it navigates changing business landscapes, according to McKinsey & Company. Improvements relate to efficiency through streamlined processes, a boost in customer satisfaction and employee engagement, better operational performance and speedier decision making, and a healthier bottom line. Achieving these requires transformation across six business pillars, continues McKinsey & Company – strategy, structure, processes, people and technology. When successful, businesses that have implemented agile transformations will see a 30% increase across all the above-listed improvements.
Enter the platform
Let’s consider the technology pillar, and how this can be leveraged to effect positive change across the other pillars to harness business agility. The future of agility is rooted in tech platforms, in which B2B services are offered by providers in a flexible, modular set-up, used with great success in international markets.
Amazon is a fantastic example from abroad, as highlighted by the Strategy+Business (S+B) publication, in its B2B Platform Revolution article. S+B notes the evolution of the global brand’s modular offerings, starting with Amazon Web Services bringing cloud computing to customers, then expanding to include cloud-based business services like cybersecurity, and more recently adding machine learning tech to its services portfolio to help customers personalise their own offerings and marketing. This set-up is what S+B refers to as a “sticky ecosystem”, in which customers can add or remove services that all build on each other from a single service provider’s platform.
To date, the South African market hasn’t had the benefit of accessing such a service offering from a local platform-based provider. This would be particularly useful in the context of the financial services industry (FSI), which is undergoing a massive digital transformation to unlock the agility it needs to meet matured customer demands for convenient, secure, and instantly accessible services. Following the example set by successful international implementations, XLink is filling this gap in South Africa’s market, proactively embracing this next digital-forward iteration of B2B business models, to empower financial services providers (FSPs) with 4IR-fit solutions in a modular, plug-and-play platform offering.
Propelling local FSPs into the future
XLink brings flexibility and choice to its FSP customers through its platform-access offering. Under this offering, customers can add or remove any of XLink’s services within its platform ecosystem based on their company’s needs at any given time.
What might such a platform-based journey look like? An FSP could start off by connecting to XLink’s secure payment network for point-of-sale connectivity, then switch on ATM connectivity through XLink’s platform. They might also enable maintenance and support services through the platform, and then scale these services based on how they scale their business. At any time, they can switch on location-based services and proactive monitoring, amongst other services. This modular, plug-and-play approach gives FSPs control over their tech needs, ensuring they have what they need on demand, rather than needing to invest in the full suite of services and only using components of it.
A business supporting businesses
I mentioned that the future of business agility is rooted in tech platforms, and it’s clear why this approach will become increasingly mainstream over the years. It’s cost-effective and intuitive, allowing a business to scale up or down affordably and flexibly at its own pace. The added value of accessing a platform through a single service provider is another facet of agility: streamlining operations, and not needing to manage relationships with multiple platform providers whose tech solutions may not play well with other tech solutions a customer has invested in.
The B2B platform business model will revolutionise service delivery to FSP customers, who can pass those gains downstream to their own clients. On local shores, it’s high time that businesses supporting businesses transform their own operations with an agile, digital approach, because unlocking new flexible value is the only way customers will be able to remain competitive and drive a strong South African economy.