Customer relationship management (CRM) will play a key role in the growth of business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce, but vendors must be prepared to share customer and partner information, according to researcher Gartner.
Rob DeSisto, vice president and research director for Gartner, said: "The key to any CRM strategy is the ability to acquire and effectively use customer and partner relationship information. However, to acquire that information, customers and partners must be willing to disclose it."
Gartner predicts that the B2B ecommerce market will grow from $403bn this year to $7.29tn by 2004. At the company's CRM Summit 2000 last week, analysts said four equally plausible scenarios for CRM in the B2B market may take shape in the next decade, ranging from broad adoption to CRM being left "on life support".
"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 role in end customer privacy issues," said DeSisto.
"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."
Gartner analysts made three recommendations for building strong CRM in the B2B industry. First, B2B enterprises should incorporate scenario-based thinking into B2B CRM planning; they should have four to six-month long-term planning meetings focused on examining the effect critical success factors will have on their CRM strategies.
Second, companies should immediately invest in collaborative training tools to improve channel partner selling effectiveness. Finally, firms should consider CRM vendors and technologies that support a distributed collaborative framework.
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