RealTime IT News

Report: 46% of B-to-B Sites to Buy Internet Conferencing Tech

Research firm ActivMedia Inc. said almost half (46%) of Web sites selling business-to-business products will adopt Internet conferencing tools this year.

These tools--such as Internet telephone, videoconferencing, and workgroup products--are seen as crucial to B-to-B's core mission of building better customer relationships, the company said in a report entitled "Selling to B-to-B Website Managers."

Whether on a large scale or small, the need for maintaining ongoing relationships characterizes the majority of B-to-B Web sites. Many B-to-B sites are oriented toward operations, coordinating the flow of goods and services between companies. Reliance on the Internet for bread-and-butter business communications is a competitive edge, cementing vertical linkages among business partners, ActivMedia said. The stronger the cement, the greater the barrier these systems pose to competitors seeking to woo business away.

Research data continues to show that while consumer online marketing is exploding, B-to-B marketing online is unfolding more methodically. Technologies for maintaining ongoing relationships are available today, but they are not as easily applied or as advanced as E-commerce or payment processing technologies, ActivMedia said. New standards are emerging that promise to greatly extend the ability to automate data and information flow (XML, the eXtensible Markup Language), but today's technologies are still proprietary and require substantial individualized setup.

"Business is now beginning to move beyond dynamic page generation and personal access to confidential business information," said Harold Wolhandler, ActivMedia's Vice President of Market Research. "Automated Data Interchange is emerging, first in fairly static environments, where interchanges are hard- coded for each specific repeated transaction. Soon a more flexible standard based data interchange code will evolve, allowing automated connections between business partners for ongoing dialog and transactions."

"Cross-company data interchange will become the norm rather than the exception, handling everything from order processing, shipment and billing to design inquiries, open manufacturing capacity and material planning," he added. "Business software will arrive with interface hooks pre-designed and ready to latch on to cross-company business, further increasing online business efficiency."

The report is being marketed for $1,295. It details near-term purchasing plans of B-to-B Web site managers across 130 product and service categories and builds upon data collected in ActivMedia's annual study of e-commerce, "The Real Numbers Behind 'Net Profits 1998."