"B2B channels need to become more tactile," IDC stalwart Merv Langby told a group of bleary eyed IT industry representatives at a breakfast briefing in Sydney last week.
While Langby believes the connectivity side of e-business has been well developed, he took the opportunity to emphasise the growing importance of using this connectivity to relate to business partners and customers. He is of the opinion that e-business solutions will need to become more interactive, and incorporate more people-oriented activity in order to survive the new economic climate.
"We will see the emergence of e-business solutions that provide information services which can be pulled-through' the channel," Langby said. "We are entering an era of increased interdependence."
Langby also told the gathering that channel players would do well to look at the possibilities of establishing communities of common interest, and networking services with partners. He also forecast the evolution of digital value chains, whereby increased interconnectivity would force channels to focus on information-based services, and guide customers through "points of advantage".
"The customer will need to be guided through the purchase process by points of advantage," Langby said. "They need to be informed at each step of the way, and instructed as to how to proceed."
For those becoming involved in a services-based channel model, the news is good, with Langby predicting that IT services growth will outstrip that in the rest of the IT industry for the next five years.
"The growth of e-business services is running at about four times general IT growth," Langby said indicating this growth rate was set to continue well into the next decade, despite a widely forecast slowing world economy.