THE new word in marketing is E-nabling the use of digital and communication technologies such as the Internet, Intranet and Worldwide Web to boost sales and find new customers for companies.
In the last five years it had greater impact on the organisation and processes of marketing departments than on sales departments, a recent report released by the Conference Board revealed.
The report is based on a survey of 80 senior marketing, sales and information technology executives worldwide.
E-nabling has increased the speed of communication within organisations and between their markets and has flattened organisations.
E-nabling has also had a greater impact on the marketing department (65% report changes to marketing) than the sales department (48%), due largely to the greater centralisation of the marketing function and the greater independence of the sales organisation.
Firms citing success in e-nabling are those that are close to their customers, said Thomas Bodenberg, author of the report and founder of the Conference Boards Council of Corporate Brand Management. They are able to anticipate changes in their customers operations and processes so as to mirror those processes in their own firms.
The report said that E-nabling was spurring changes in corporate culture, resulting in new departments (e-commerce, e-service, Web marketing) new personnel, and a re-organisation of sales and marketing.
About one-fifth of the firms surveyed had a customer relationship management system in place, mainly used for lead tracking and fulfilment, sales force automation, and customer service and support.
Slightly more than half of the firms reported a general level of success with customer relationship management.
Most firms set their targets against both internal standards and the competition.
The chief measurements were Web site hits, customer retention rate, complaint resolution rate, and customer willingness to recommend.
The report said many firms that advocated e-nabling had to be wary of two issues.
The first is that the innovation needs time to make its way throughout the organisation and second the success of e-nabling could create expection escalation to the point where the company may temporarily be unable to meet the heightened expectations of its customers.
The next two years will see greater use of e-nabling with companies integrating all customer touch points, including distribution partners in their Intranet, as well as sharing their data with partners outside the firm.
Companies will also train their employees to use the new technological tools, change their sales and marketing operational processes and flatten their organisations.
The report said that the greatest growth in customer relationship management would be among medium-sized firms with sales revenue below US$1bil.
The sales and marketing employee in the new e-nabled world must not only be comfortable analytically and astute technologically, but must also possess the flexibility to work in a variety of environments that e-nabling allows, said Bodenberg.