Artificial Intelligence

Tech Needed to Survive This Decade’s ‘Seismic’ APAC B2B Trends


The business-to-business market will see a number of big changes in the years to 2030, according to a new report from customer experience firm Merkle. APAC regional B2B enterprises will need to consider their levels of investment in a number of technologies and integrating new tools now to prepare for and adapt to the coming changes.

The B2B Futures: The View From 2030 report argues four key “seismic” trends are coming to B2B:

  • A rise in machine-to-machine commerce.
  • Enhanced supply chain traceability.
  • The dominance of B2B digital marketplaces.
  • Radically accelerated speed-to-market.

Jake Hird, vice president of strategy, Merkle B2B – APAC, told TechRepublic B2B enterprises in the region will need to respond with investment in technologies including IoT, AI, data analytics and blockchain to ensure they adapt to these shifts hitting their businesses and markets.

IoT to facilitate a rise in machine-to-machine commerce

Machine-to-machine commerce will rise to account for a third of all B2B business by 2030, Merkle said. In practice, this will see the extension of today’s automated decision-making tools — like replenishment systems for retailers that automate the purchase of new inventory from factories — into more complex but still commodity decisions, supported by AI.

Jake Hird, Vice President of Strategy, Merkle B2B, APAC
Image: Merkle

Hird said this trend would require B2B businesses to increasingly prioritise investments in things like IT infrastructure, AI and machine learning tools, blockchain technology and cyber security.

Internet of Things

The growth of machine-to-machine commerce will be heavily dependent on the embrace and deployment of IoT tools, which will need to be embedded throughout the B2B market. “IoT devices, sensors, and networks will form the backbone of m2m commerce,” Hird said.

While acknowledging unsteady growth to date in the IoT market, Merkle said IoT has matured. Merkle’s report predicted IoT devices would soon be a key source of data for B2B businesses needing to “identify and forecast business needs, ranging from potential out of stocks to the degradation of equipment that may need replacement — and transact accordingly.”

Blockchain and smart contracts

Machines will have the means to transact with other machines using blockchain. “Blockchain technology and smart contracts will ensure secure and transparent transactions, enabling machines to execute agreements without human intervention,” Hird said.

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Edge computing infrastructure

B2B enterprises will need to invest in edge computing infrastructure to support more real-time data processing and purchasing transactions across their footprints and supply chains.

Data management and integration platforms

B2B businesses will need to collect, process and analyze more information, making investment in data management important. This will include overcoming integration challenges and leveraging the interoperability of systems to generate the required insights to feed systems.

Cyber security systems

Cyber security solutions will be crucial to safeguarding transactions from unauthorised access, as well as other online threats, according to Merkle. “Businesses will need to invest in measures such as intrusion detection systems and advanced encryption technologies,” Hird said.

Blockchain and distributed ledger tech to deliver supply chain traceability

Supply chain traceability could become a top two purchase driver for B2B by 2030, on the back of consumer and market pressure. This will see blockchain and distributed ledger technology adoption rise as businesses seek to deepen the transparency and trust of their supply chains.

Blockchain and distributed ledger technology

Merkle’s report suggests that blockchains, the most common form of distributed ledger technology, could help “shine light on byzantine global supply chains” by providing access to certification data, sourcing practices and environmental impact — even calculating carbon footprints. These technologies could help businesses enforce sustainability standards.

RFID tags and IoT

The availability, decreasing cost and miniturisation of RFID tags and IoT sensors will see IoT play a critical role in traceability. This is expected to enable real-time tracking and monitoring of products as they progress through the supply chain, from sourcing right through to sale.

Data analytics and AI tools

B2B players will need data analytics and AI to derive insights from the data generated by supply chain traceability systems. “Through real-time analysis, businesses can optimise inventory management, anticipate demand fluctuations, and mitigate supply chain risks,” Hird said.

Integration readiness to support the rise of B2B digital marketplaces

B2B digital marketplaces are expected to capture 50% of B2B business by 2030, up from 15% in 2024. This shift will drive B2B organisations to focus on implementing e-commerce platforms to develop a presence within growing digital marketplaces or dive in and build their own.

Analytics and personalisation tools

Analytics and personalisation will allow businesses to derive insights into customer behavior and preferences, Hird said. This will help B2B businesses adjust marketing and communications for individual B2B buyers, improving customer experience, engagement and revenue.

Integration and API solutions

Digital marketplaces rely on the integration of systems to facilitate customer transactions and buying experiences. Businesses will need to invest in integration and API solutions to connect internal and external systems and platforms to streamline operations and enhance efficiency.

Supply chain optimisation tech

Digital marketplace models also require B2B companies to meet demands like faster delivery times and efficient order fulfillment from their marketplace presence, Hird said. He argued this will encourage B2B businesses to adopt more supply chain optimisation technologies.

Design and prototyping tools to accelerate B2B speed-to-market

Major changes are expected in the way B2B brands design, test and deliver goods to market. For example, in pharmacology, Merkle said although it can take 10 to 15 years to bring a drug to market, faster drug discovery and clinical trials could shorten this process dramatically.

Generative AI and virtual prototyping

Functional product and prototype design processes can be supercharged with generative AI and virtual prototyping technologies, Hird told TechRepublic. By using simulations and design tools that augment human contributions and traditional methods, businesses will be able to significantly reduce the time and cost associated with physical prototyping and testing.

“This enables faster iteration cycles, accelerating the product development process and enhancing speed to market for new goods and innovations,” Hird said.


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