Let’s end the data wars
I’ve spoken to scores of Manufacturing organizations in the last 5 years. At the risk of oversimplifying what I’ve learned, they are all lopsided…politically. There is no peace in the Executive Suite. One of three people in the organization is usually the primary driver (or obstacle) for a B2B eCommerce initiative. In order of frequency, I see CIO’s at the forefront, Business Unit Managers (Presidents, GM’s etc.) a strong second and Marketing Executives at either extreme (way out in front or nowhere to be seen).
These politically polarized organization always end up with characteristically polarized B2B eCommerce solutions.
When CIO’s are in charge, they push the technically “correct” solution which always means living harmoniously with their SAP system and all of the services (tax, freight, credit card, etc.) that are integrated with it. Marketing demands for usability, merchandising and promotional capabilities etc., be damned.
When Marketing drives the project, they are quite dismissive about the value of integration and feel as if “re-keying” orders into SAP is a viable option. Complexities associated with contract pricing, providing accurate inventory information are “details” that play second fiddle to furthering “brand recognition” into the marketplace. So what if the website uses a different credit card service or tax calculating algorithm?
Corporate or Divisional Presidents are usually very financial oriented. Their concerns are that this project either generates more revenue for them (profitably) or allows them to get rid of some headcount that will reduce their operating costs. Fairly bottom line focused.
When it comes to B2B eCommerce, SAP has always been really good at catering to the CIOs of the world. Their offerings (Internet Sales, CRM and now Web Experience) always focused on leveraging all of the data and business rules that were housed in SAP. However, Marketing would lose out because if they wanted to change the look and feel of the website, or the user experience, they had to take a number and wait their turn in the seemingly endless IT Backlog. Since they were competing against their IT staff’s need to consolidate warehouses, integrate new acquisitions and implement BI, where was the priority of the addition of new categories or product attributes or the establishment of a special sale going to land?
The more traditional eCommerce vendors like hybris, Volusion, ATG etc all have a very B2C pedigree and hence appeal directly to the Marketing department. Consequently, they also have their B2B blind spots. They are the ultimate managers of content and provide the elusive “Amazon-like” user experience. However, when it comes to expressing the existing product and pricing rules that exist in SAP, the cost of the project begins to skyrocket.
Enter the marriage of Magento, b2b2dot0 and SAP.
For the first time in the history of this industry, we see all stakeholders enter B2B ecommerce planning workshops ready to defend their respected vested interests. They are full of skepticism and mistrust and leave the workshop transformed into true partners in the endeavor.
Magento provides the Marketing Department with all of the functionality they’ve ever dreamed of to manage the user experience. SAP, of course, provides all of the Order to Cash transactional support. Thanks to the b2b2dot0 integration with SAP, Magento becomes way more than a standalone web channel with a delightful user experience. Magento is now a front end to a true multi-channel experience for all of the corporation’s customers…B2C or B2B…power users or casual customers.
Marketing doesn’t have to beg for resources to get their job done and IT doesn’t have to do anything new (other than clean up data and processes) to support the corporation’s new eCommerce initiatives. Of course, Corporate Presidents love the situation because their staff are finally playing nicely together and their customers all have an easier time doing business with them.
Happy employees, happy customers, more revenue, less cost. Magento, SAP and b2b2dot0.
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