Report: Innovating The Distributor For The Digital Age

The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence has published a brand-new electronic research report, CEO Insights on Innovating the Distributor for the Digital Age, by Mark Dancer, an NAW Institute Fellow.

Distributor CEOs have been wrestling with the challenges and opportunities of digital technologies for some time now. On the one hand, many distribution leaders are feeling pressured by disruptors, like Amazon, to respond to an existential threat and do something to ensure the survival of their businesses. On the other hand, digital tools are tools for modernizing businesses, independent of external threats, as distributors push for improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, profits. Whatever the motivation, a distributor’s decision to adopt and use digital tools is a significant leadership event, one that must balance competing claims about what works and what doesn’t against the ability to earn a return-on-investment over the short- and long-term.

In an easier-to-digest, 53-page electronic report format, CEO Insights on Innovating the Distributor for the Digital Age provides updates on digital progress—acknowledging success where it has been achieved in the distribution industry—and provides a nudge and a push for distributors to keep trying, harder and harder, to push their business forward. Digital tools are changing the way we live and the way we work, and they are changing the way distributors run their business.

Author Mark Dancer reached out to more than 100 distributor CEOs through conversations, online surveys, and work sessions. In many cases, CEOs provided their personal and direct feedback. Others referred him to the individual most responsible for driving digital strategy and progress for their company. He also sought advice for distributor CEOs from manufacturers, customers and experts on innovation, technology and organizational change, again through surveys and conversations with more than 50 leaders. The goal of this research is to provide an update on progress toward becoming a digital distributor and to suggest strategic solutions for competing in the digital age. He builds on the research, insights and recommendations shared in his previous three books and offers new information and understanding in shorter format. This research report should be used as a strategy tool with leadership teams, project managers and employees to help focus efforts, answer questions and build consensus and, ultimately, progress.

This research report builds on three previous books authored by Mark Dancer and published by NAW: Getting Results From Your Digital Investments, Becoming a Digital Distributor: Strategies and Tools That Create Value and Getting the Most Out of CRM: Best Practices for Wholesaler-Distributors.

George Pattee, Chairman of the Board at Parksite, Inc., said this after reading this new research report: “This research report speaks to distribution CEOs in two important ways. First, it talks about the need for leadership right now so that we can treat and serve our customers differently. As CEOs, we can’t just react. We need to create a digital vision for our companies that clearly conveys where we want to go to stay competitive and to win in today’s digital age. This report provides a variety of options to help us understand what a digital vision is all about so that we can make better decisions on how to create it.

Second, it addresses the perilous distributor–manufacturer relationship and provides insights to help us analyze the problems we’re having and improve our partnerships so that they not only survive but thrive in this disruptive digital environment. As distributors, we have to take the lead in conversations with our manufacturers, vendors and suppliers, and together, set strategic plans that work for all parties. This is a great read on timely topics that we’re all dealing with. Everyone in the supply chain should read this report.”