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New business models require new organisational structures

Altering business models also has an organisational impact: my last article on the development of new business models showed that the energy industry of today is in need of a rethink. The three mega trends digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation and their direct consequences on the energy industry are having a disruptive effect on current business models. But the development of products isn’t the only thing that needs a rethink; organisational structures and sales models are themselves only slowly adapting to the current changes. To counteract the trends and accommodate the new needs of customers, we were commissioned to efficiently shape the Dutch organisational structure, its underpinning processes and the way of working for new Energy+ products in the field of B2B. The term Energy+ comprises all products that go beyond the basic sale of electricity and gas – such as smart homes, solar power systems and all aspects of e-mobility. My colleague Kata goes into more detail about this here on our blog.

The start of my project in the Netherlands: colleagues, customers, (working) culture

Because the project had been given a relatively short time frame, I was met by my iCon colleagues in our Den Bosch branch as soon as I arrived. They enlightened me as to the scope and aims of the project and also introduced me to the customer right away. In this way I was in the thick of things and an integral part of the team from the get-go. First of all we assessed the current situation together with an experienced colleague from the Netherlands. My colleague’s experience with Dutch projects was of particular value in better understanding the background and development of the current B2B organisational structure. That’s because in addition to the external factors mentioned above, internal developments also influenced the decision to set up a new, customer-oriented organisational structure.

The implementation phase: the B2B world

My previous projects mainly took place in a B2C setting, so it was initially both exciting and helpful to identify differences and to transfer previous experience to a new field. In B2B, it is often difficult to cover the whole spectrum of requirements due to the diversity of customers compare to B2C. From agricultural companies to automotive suppliers or a large local bakery, B2B considers many different groups. But how can the experience and expertise of employees be combined in order to cover their varying requirements? Segment management is a key term known throughout the industry. It is an approach which involves grouping different industries with similar requirements in clusters in order to be able to meet the needs of the customers in each group and offer them comprehensive, customised solutions. The products and services that are offered to a B2B customer are also considerably different to B2C products. While B2C products are usually highly standardised, the corresponding scale of B2B products means that they are tailored to the customer and require more explanation.

Additionally, it should be ensured that the different segments intersect with the product development, marketing, sales and customer service division in order to factor in customer experience from the segments when developing products and align marketing campaigns to specific customers. There are also fundamental differences in marketing that have to be considered in B2B. While B2C customers are primarily reached by emotional means, e.g. with “storytelling”, with B2B customers the focus is on a fact-based approach.

To ensure we develop a new approach that is relevant to business, we carried out interviews with all important stakeholders. This let us gather experiences and opinions on the current organisational structure as well as suggestions and evaluations of a possible future set-up. Armed with this information, we then developed a proposed solution step by step, which we discussed in regular coordination meetings with our customers.

My experiences: using what you know to learn something new

Our task in this project was to develop a proposal for the set-up of future processes and organisational structure. Implementing our proposed solution is now the job of a separate team in the project’s second phase. Because the team and I had to get up to speed and develop solutions in a very short time frame, I found the time with my Dutch colleagues was very intensive and informative. I was already able to gather lots of experience at iCon in previous months, and it became even clearer while in the Netherlands how much I am able to bring in my experience, even in unfamiliar areas. After all, even if the subject matter was different to that of my previous projects, every project helps me as a consultant to better understand the group and look at it from another perspective.

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An article by

Björn Selzer Consultant
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