Growth in B2B e-commerce requires the right mix of professional staff, with marketing leaders most responsible and accountable for effective strategies, Forrester Research says.

Business-to-business e-commerce operations—long rooted in the technology department at many companies—in many cases are realigning as marketing-driven functions, resulting in new pressures to organize staffing across multiple groups of personnel, Forrester Research Inc. says in a recent report.

B2B leaders must recruit and retain talent that can complete the daily tasks—but also reimagine the existing business.

John Bruno,
senior analyst,
Forrester Research

“Key roles can make or break the B2B e-commerce initiative, and digital pros must get those key roles on board early,” Forrester says in the report, “Organize and Staff for B2B Digital Transformation,” by B2B e-commerce senior analyst John Bruno along with other Forrester analysts. The report adds that B2B e-commerce organizations must create cross-functional teams, combining the skills and contributions of customer service, sales and marketing personnel along with technology and other departments.

Forrester lists eight personnel categories on a stakeholder grid, covering teams responsible for marketing leadership, customer intelligence, customer experience, customer service, sales, technology, finance and human resources.

Marketing pros drive growth—with lots of help

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The report says that each team has ways to contribute in four key areas: developing a business case, driving growth, deploying technology and providing a good customer experience. It identifies the marketing leadership team as the only one both responsible and accountable for realizing success in each of those four areas. But the report also asserts that marketing pros must have input from cross-functional teams, such as the expertise of their colleagues skilled in customer insight, customer experience and technology, in order to produce a website offering customers a personalized online commerce experience.

“B2B leaders must recruit and retain talent that can complete the daily tasks associated with marketing and merchandising products and fulfilling and servicing orders—but also reimagine the existing business,” the report says.

It also asserts that successful B2B organizations should blendgood online customer experience with complementary digital operations, such as by providing customer-facing personnel with mobile devices for checking customer records and inventory. “Today’s B2B digital business professionals must be ‘get-it-done’ individuals who not only possess basic digital competencies, but are also astute observers of transforming customer behavior across PCs, laptops and mobile devices,” the report says.

In another recent report on B2B marketing, Forrester advises on the advantages of replacing traditional forms of marketing with campaigns based on personalized and automated techniques.

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