Marketing wants to sell more. IT wants to become more efficient—or at the very least, prevent technical debt. Everyone’s on the same team, but B2B eCommerce projects can really highlight the differences here.
How do you move forward in B2B eCommerce while meeting the needs of marketing and IT? Is that even possible?
Spoiler alert: Absolutely!
The key is to view this as a negotiation. And that means separating each party’s positions from their interests.
Interests vs. positions in B2B eCommerce projects
In the language of negotiation, a “position” is what a party says they want. It’s usually a concrete thing.
An “interest,” on the other hand, is why they want it.
People tend to focus on positions—both their own and the other party’s. Positions get more attention because they’re more obvious and easier to articulate. They’re also easy to argue for (or against).
But interests are the key to negotiation. When there’s disagreement, it’s time to step back from positions and start looking at interests—the reasons people are pushing for the things they want.
Here’s what marketing and IT typically want in B2B eCommerce (and why they want it).
What marketing wants and why
Marketing’s positions on B2B eCommerce
Marketing may ask for features like cross-selling and upselling or the ability to define discounts and promotional bundles within the B2B eCommerce admin experience. (Note: Some of these requests will run afoul of IT’s interests, which include keeping all business data in the ERP—but we’ll get to that.)
When it comes to the technology that supports B2B eCommerce, marketing often asks for full control. They may want to create a unique user experience (UX) or have the power to change the look and feel of the site without help from a developer.
Marketing’s interests in B2B eCommerce
Why does marketing insist on these features?
Because they want to increase revenue through B2B eCommerce.
It’s really that simple. Keep this in mind when we get to the win-win solution (below).
What IT wants and why
IT’s positions on B2B eCommerce
Unfortunately, due to the architecture of conventional solutions, IT may only see a liability when they think about B2B eCommerce. This is because they can’t support any additional systems. When it comes to B2B eCommerce, IT usually asks for one thing: Make sure the solution includes a managed, real-time integration to SAP ERP—or forget about it.
IT’s interests in B2B eCommerce
Why is IT a little bullish on this?
Because conventional solutions require duplication and synchronization of all the business data and logic that lives in SAP ERP. That’s a huge problem for IT because they’re already struggling with work/life balance. An architecture that requires 3 copies of all business data and logic will create a massive burden. Your IT team will have to debug the duplication and synchronization process again and again. Over time, these issues will become more frequent as each system goes through various upgrades.
Whether or not revenue is increasing through B2B eCommerce, technical debt (and cost) will definitely increase with an architecture that requires three systems.
IT wants the business to succeed, and they want to support business-critical systems. But they can only do so much, and an architecture with a separate B2B eCommerce platform and third-party ERP connector will create a nightmare for them.
Evaluate solutions with interests in mind (rather than positions)
Everybody wants to find a win-win solution here. That’s the ultimate goal.
To do this, we’re going to have to step back from positions. Forget about the “whats” and look at the “whys.”
Let’s review those “whys.” They’re actually pretty simple. Why does each party want what they want? Because:
- Marketing needs to increase revenue through B2B eCommerce.
- IT can’t take on any additional responsibility.
With these interests in mind, it’s time to evaluate solutions and ask if they satisfy those interests. It only takes a few questions to figure out if the solution on the table will work for both parties or not. Here’s what you should ask:
- Does this solution offer capabilities that will empower marketing to hit their revenue growth goals?
- Does this solution deliver that business value without creating a lot of new work for IT?
If you can answer “yes” to both for a given B2B eCommerce solution, then you’re on your way to solving this problem and satisfying both parties’ interests.
If you answer “no” to one or both questions, you might want to dig deeper. Chances are, you’re leaving value on the table if you’re not delivering what marketing needs (or you’re creating a burden for IT).
Finding a win-win solution that satisfies everybody
Let’s just say it. There’s no perfect B2B eCommerce solution that will satisfy the positions of all stakeholders. (Or if that solution exists, it’s prohibitively expensive and complex—which wouldn’t satisfy the interests of IT anyway.)
The key here is to find the solution that best satisfies the interests of all parties. This may require marketing and IT to compromise on their positions so the solution can support the interests of both.
If you’re coming at this from one camp or the other, evaluate your preferred solution from the perspective of the other side. How will architecture, features, and integration (or lack of it) affect the interests of the other side?
When you take this approach, you practice empathy, which helps unify the team around the project. Whatever solution you choose, you’re more likely to meet the needs of both marketing and IT.