Trends in the Demand Chain

Increased opportunities for customer interaction create new operational challenges for Sales, Marketing and Service  the Demand Chain. Organizations aiming for the same efficiency they previously achieved in the supply chain must look beyond technology...


The fact is that we have become adept at adding channels by which to reach the customer, but much less effective at using those channels to fulfill the customer expectations they create — or to provide the efficiencies for which they were initially created. The motivation to add a channel is more likely to have been cost of sales and distribution rather than improvement of the customer experience.

New Channels, New Capabilities

A single-threaded, or piecemeal, approach to the demand chain risks the creation of islands of data, uncoordinated processes and incompatible technologies. Given the level of competition most enterprises now face, they must plan to integrate data and processes, and synchronize sales, marketing and service channels.

Early sales force automation (SFA) solutions focused on productivity tools for the direct sales force or call center, linking direct and indirect sales partners required a cost-effective communications network external to the enterprise. That network is now available, making it possible for sales partners to collaborate on quotes using product, pricing and availability data provided by the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The same collaboration can be extended to corporate and outsourced service teams, creating a single view of the support provided to any given customer.

Indirect channels have never been more important: the Yankee Group estimates that in the high technology sector these customer touch points are responsible for between 60 and 70 percent of sales. In retail commerce, Forrester Research reports that customers who transact via more than one channel also buy more.

Synchronizing the demand chain means developing new capabilities, including:

  • Real-time Data Access: Capturing customer data during interactions; immediate access to order and service history; and the ability to personalize responses to increase sales and provide better service

  • Synchronized Marketing: Better coordination of marketing campaigns and assets across departments, divisions and agencies; coordination with IT on analytics, including return on investment (ROI) and customer profitability; and coordination of customer interactions with sales and customer service

  • Partner Relationship Management: Collective targeting of customers; coordinated definition of marketing opportunities; and the ability to assess partner performance

For companies managing a variety of channels to the market, a vital question to answer is, Who owns the customer relationship? Is it the marketing function, which may lack the analytical capabilities it needs to quickly design and manage campaigns? Is it a complex set of sales channels comprising direct sales as well as value-added resellers or franchises? Or does your business most frequently interact with the customer through support functions? The best answer is the enterprise and its functional components. Understanding the customer holistically requires data to be shared not only within the enterprise but in many cases with enterprise partners. Of course, sharing data is also likely to require extending workflow across organizational boundaries, and many customer relationship management (CRM) implementations to date have left significant process gaps between zones of automation.

Without effective business processes, data management and analytics, organizations lack visibility into hidden opportunities that could contribute new revenue. They undersell to target customers and fail to identify potential new segments. Without effective process integration, efficiency is likely to suffer and customer satisfaction will not reach the high levels required for loyalty.

Set the Strategy. Then Focus on Operations.

The promise of CRM keeps it on today's corporate agenda, but the early perception that CRM is a set of technology applications is fading fast. Repeatedly, organizations have experienced under-performance or downright failure when demand chain improvement relies too heavily on technology without first addressing operational improvement and go-to-market realities. Software vendors themselves, recognizing this realistic shift in the market, are switching to solutions that address business process integration within focused vertical markets.

  • Enhance Your Experience.

    When you register for SDCExec.com you stay connected to the pulse of the industry by signing up for topic-based e-newsletters and information. Registering also allows you to quickly comment on content and request more infomation.

Already have an account? Click here to Log in.

Enhance Your Experience.

When you register for SDCExec.com you stay connected to the pulse of the industry by signing up for topic-based e-newsletters and information. Registering also allows you to quickly comment on content and request more infomation.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required