Supplyframe Maturity Model Stage 1: The Ad Hoc Organization


Tracking your organization’s progress towards true customer engagement at the digital level can prove challenging. While no firm is perfect, each has their own strengths and places to improve. You could be creating great content, but not timing it correctly. Hidden data silos could be holding sales and engineering from having the discussions your customers want to have with you.

There’s a solution. Supplyframe’s Customer Engagement Maturity Model is a tool for businesses in the electronics industry to benchmark  and then improve digital engagement maturity across their organization.

What is the Customer Engagement Maturity Model?

In light of ongoing global value chain disruptions and dramatic reduction of in-person events and face-to-face relationship building, Supplyframe surveyed nearly 200 leading B2B electronics firms to gain insight into their readiness in three areas: Digital Engagement, Technology & Analytics, and their Organizational structure.

This forms the basis for our  Customer Engagement Maturity Model. It’s a five stage process that ideally culminates in a thriving, intelligent, and collaborative content ecosystem that drives innovation at every stage of the product lifecycle.

While most firms benchmarked at a 2.4–somewhere between steps two and three–our focus today is on the beginning. We’ll explore those vital first steps in a business’s effort to embrace the shift towards a best in class digital engagement strategy. 

An Overview of Stage 1: Ad Hoc

We call Stage 1 “Ad Hoc” as businesses at this level are typically reactive and not proactive. This results in situations like: 

  • Content is created to fill a need at that moment.
  • That content isn’t grounded in customer data or overall strategy.
  • The focus at this level tends to be on outward bound product promotion.
  • Ad Hoc firms perform analytics manually
  • CRM tools are used mainly at the contact level
  • Organizational structure not aligned towards common goals and KPIs

Each of these contain aspects of a successful strategy, but fall short of truly capturing and engaging with customers in the moment. Let’s take a deeper dive into what this level of maturity looks like in a modern B2B electronics organization. 

Digital Engagement In The Ad Hoc Organization

It’s inaccurate to say there is no digital aspect to a business in the Ad Hoc stage. There’s a website. Chances are it’s not much more than an electronic version of a physical catalog. Ad Hoc businesses, however, don’t take advantage of the myriad opportunities for businesses that wholly embrace this new style of marketing.

Ad hoc firms are not basing decisions on actual insights. Instead they use generic audience data which is usually siloed or incomplete. So sales may know where some prospects are on the buyer’s journey and engineering might have insights into client needs. That information isn’t shared, as collaboration between verticals is not a hallmark of the Ad Hoc organization.

The proliferation in marketing channels over the last few years has given higher level firms a number of options as to where to publish content as well as opening up the opportunity to publish different types of content depending on the platform. Not so for firms stuck in stage 1. The most common channel strategy for these businesses is an inbound product-based website filled with technical information. The final drawback to digital engagement in the Ad Hoc organization is a lack of seasonality to communications. It’s essential to tailor assets for a business to successfully uplevel to the second stage of maturity.

Technology And Analytics At Stage 1

Analytics in the stage 1 firm is typically manual. Instead of modern day analysis and tracking tools, campaign results and efficacy at Level 1 often get tracked on an Excel Spreadsheet or other manual means. Continuing the theme of not utilizing the latest and greatest, firms at this level take advantage of CRM only for basic customer contact.

Organizational Structure In The Ad Hoc

At the ad hoc level, KPIs often remain separated by vertical, further discouraging the type of collaboration that defines higher level digital engagement.

Digital transformation needs a champion. Someone tasked and empowered with leading the charge. Firms in the Ad Hoc stage additionally suffer from a lack of qualified employees to lead digital transformation efforts, and may often face a top-down resource management structure, often defined by finance. 

This lack of cohesion and open dialogue regarding what’s necessary to move forward is yet another hindrance for the first level business. It’s impossible for the Ad Hoc firm to get ahead of itself and see beyond one-off opportunities.

First Steps Forward

If you’re a business in the Ad Hoc stage and are ready to move forward, here are Supplyframe’s suggestions:

  • Start conversations. Lots of them. Have sales and engineering talk. Reach out to your customers.
  • Improve your audience understanding. Find more precise demographics and gain insight into customers’ intent and economics as well. 
  • Use that intelligence to begin tailoring content by customer, vertical, and location.
  • Automate, automate, automate. Even the most rudimentary CRM and marketing automation tools will yield a wealth of actionable data.
  • This goes for analytics + reporting. What gets measured gets improved, and the leap to 2.0 includes the adoption of simple tools to provide basic rearward facing metrics.

Onward And Upward

It’s very true that the longest journeys begin with a first step. The road forward up and out of the Ad Hoc style of digital engagement is long, but the tools are there for your organization to make the trek successfully. 

This is the first in a series of in-depth looks at each stage of the Customer Engagement Maturity model with more to follow. In the meantime, Supplyframe has an overview of the entire model to get you up to speed here.

Read our deep dive into Stage 2: Opportunistic.

Paul McNamara
Paul McNamara
Articles: 27