The worldwide business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce market is forecast to grow from $403 billion this year to $7.29 trillion in 2004, and good customer relationship management will be a major driver of this growth.
During the next decade, four equally plausible B2B CRM scenarios could play out. They range from a world in which broad CRM expansion exists, to a worst-case scenario in which CRM is on life support. Enterprises must prepare to react quickly, or face drastic consequences.
Analysts gave their findings during Gartner’s CRM Summit 2000, held on Friday 15 September, at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. They made three recommendations for building strong CRM in the B2B industry:
• Collaborate now. Invest in collaborative training tools to improve channel partner selling effectiveness.
• Incorporate scenario-based thinking into B2B CRM planning. Enterprises should have four- to six-month, long-term planning meetings examining the effect critical success factors will have on their CRM strategies.
• Consider CRM vendors and technologies that support a distributed collaborative framework.
The two critical uncertainties that will dictate the CRM scenario are customer / partner disclosure of information, and global economic conditions. By monitoring those indicators for uncertainty, enterprises will be able to adapt their CRM strategies before it is too late.
“The key to any CRM strategy is the ability to use customer and partner relationship information. However, to acquire that information, customers and partners must be willing to disclose it,” said Rob DeSisto, research director for Gartner.
“Disclosure ranges from complete to restricted. In a restricted environment, partners have a high level of distrust and will do anything to prevent end customer data to flow back through the demand chain. Government agencies will play a more prominent roll in customer privacy issues,” said DeSisto. “With complete disclosure, we expect to see limited government involvement, high-demand chain collaboration and customers believing that benefits outweigh privacy concerns.”
The global economy is the other uncertainty that dramatically affects CRM strategic decisions. Economic conditions dictate the ability of enterprises to invest in new capital and technology, and end customers’ buying behavior.