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Developing Demand-Chain Capabilities in an Exchange: Introducing Partner Relationship Management

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This article defines the concepts and key market trends that affect the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) arena, and provides you with key issues to consider when you partner with companies in the area of sell-side e-commerce.

In interview after interview, CIOs from the leading Global 2,500 companies have stated that whatever happens to the economy, their focus on customers and the technologies that give them the opportunity to be more responsive is essential, regardless of economic uncertainty. Sell-side functionality within an exchange, and, more specifically, the development of Partner Relationship Management (PRM) applications, are critical.

Who Uses Partner Relationship Management?

Industries that have a strong focus on velocities of transactions, rely on many product introductions per quarter, and have the need for quickly distributing content in a one-to-many and many-to-many architecture are finding Partner Relationship Management (PRM) a strong solution for their needs. The popularity of the direct model is giving way to the recognition that the relationships that form the basis of many organizations' indirect channels are, in fact, the most important assets for any company. The preservation and growth of these channel relationships—often the lifeblood of a company—need constant focus and maturation if the companies themselves will grow. That's the true promise of a PRM arena that is quickly changing the competitive landscape of sell-side- and, more specifically, demand chain-focused activities.

With the new economic realities driving organizations of all sizes to look for true differentiation and a strong focus on being responsive and attentive to customers, the functionality delivered by PRM vendors is needed most in uncertain economic times. In times of uncertainty, the role of metrics becomes even more critical; and it's predictable that alliances, acquisitions, and mergers will continue to occur in the entire sell-side arena of e-commerce as companies increasingly rely on one another to get the analytical capabilities they need. Clearly, visibility into the demand chain and the sales events accomplished is essential for companies that have invested in PRM applications. The driving force of PRM today is the use of metrics for both sales-activity tracking and revenue tracking by channel members. The fact that ROI is becoming more and more important for organizations will make these metrics even more widely used by companies adopting PRM. The recent partnerships of E.piphany with Comergent and PartnerWare bear out the increasing importance of metrics in this marketplace, and show the importance of the B2B-centric focus that E.piphany is attempting to accomplish.

There is also an emerging duality in this marketplace. On the one hand, the demand-chain-focused applications are centered on driving opportunity to the manufacturers and distributors that act as market makers in a distribution chain. The other half of this duality is the post-sales process that centers on warranty tracking, Market Development Funds (MDF), and warranty reimbursement claims. The post-sales aspects of the PRM marketplace are often joined with order-management applications from a variety of companies. Often, these post-sales-focused PRM vendors also have integration capabilities for ERP applications. With this duality, there is the question of how this marketplace will mature. Clearly, the demand chain focused areas will lean toward alliances with Siebel Systems, which continues to cultivate partnerships with essential vendors in this segment of the broader PRM marketplace. The post-sales aspects of PRM will increasingly migrate to order management, making the PRM arena increasingly fragmented from partnerships with both the demand chain and the more broadly focused order- and enterprise-management vendors.

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