Complementor Relationship Management

The Missing Link in Business Relationship Management

The essentials of Complementor Relationship Management in brief

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Supplier and customer relationship management represent the core approaches to business relationships. However, they only focus “short-distance” business partners with evident upstream and downstream links to some reference business. They neglect “long-distance” relationships with players that provide accessories, attachments, infrastructures, and industrial services. These sources of complementary input are usually called complementors.

Due to the fact that customers’ demand is increasingly reflected in “bundles”, “configurations”, “solutions” and “systems” rather than in single products, the relevance of complementors is also increasing. To deliver customer value in areas such as health care, communication, nutrition, finance, environment or mobility, three categories of configurations are required: product-service configurations (product-service-systems), product-product bundles and service-service bundles. Since companies both focus on their core competencies and avoid inherent risks of a related diversification in complementary offerings, providing complex configurations inhouse is an ambivalent strategic option. Hence complementor relationship management (CoRM) to independent companies becomes a critical success factor. Management activities to design and change complementor relationships (CoR) cover coordinated planning of production volume (e.g. hardware, software and support), synchronizing of release launches and innovations, design of compatible products, customizing, joint problem solving and knowledge sharing (e.g. knowledge concerning legal and technological issues of common interest). The list of benefits from CoRM contains cross selling, bundle pricing, economies of scope, reduction of transaction costs with customers and economies of integration (e.g. customer value from plug&play systems).

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