The worldwide B2B e-commerce market is forecast to grow from $403 billion this year to $7.29 trillion in 2004, and good CRM will be a key driver of this growth, according to the Gartner Group.
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.
Gartner analysts say enterprises must prepare to react quickly to the varying scenarios or face possible drastic business consequences.
The two key critical uncertainties that will dictate the specific CRM scenario are customer/partner disclosure of information and global economic conditions. By monitoring those key indicators for uncertainty, enterprises will be in a better position to adapt their CRM strategies before it is too late.
“The key to any CRM strategy is the ability to acquire and effectively use customer and partner relationship information,” said Rob DeSisto, research director for Gartner. “However, to acquire that information, customers and partners must be willing to disclose it.
“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 end customer privacy issues. For complete disclosure, we expect to see the opposite, such as limited government involvement, high-demand chain collaboration and customers believing that benefits outweigh privacy concerns.”
The health of the global economy is the other key 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.
The analysts made three recommendations for building strong CRM in the B2B industry:
• Incorporate scenario-based thinking into B2B CRM planning – B2B enterprises should have four- to six-month, long-term planning meetings focused on examining the effect critical success factors will have on their CRM strategies.
• Collaborate now; there is no reason to wait – invest in collaborative training tools to improve channel partner selling effectiveness.
• Consider CRM vendors and technologies that support a distributed collaborative framework
Distributors should focus initial investments in CRM on technologies that affect the entire buying-to-delivery process.