i2 Adds More Verticals To Ra-b2b-it Stew

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i2 Adds More Verticals To Ra-b2b-it Stew
S. McVey - March 27th, 2000

Event Summary

As vertical B2B marketplaces multiply like rabbits, i2 Technologies is nurturing a warren of its own. Some observers estimate that today's 400 or so B2B sites will proliferate to over 10,000 over the next few years. This hardly seems to be an exaggeration considering that vendors from all areas, ERP, supply chain management, CRM, e-commerce, have discovered synergies between e-markets and their core functionalities.

i2 has announced seven since introducing Rhythm eXchange Services in June 1999, a progenitor of TradeMatrix, which provides the underlying technology for the new portals.

Market Impact

Individually, each of these marketplaces offers advantages to buyers and sellers. Buyers benefit from cost reductions gained from order consolidation and convenient tracking of orders. Sellers are able to expand their market presence more effectively than traditional approaches.

While the majority of online marketplaces are intended for purchasing indirect materials, i2's family can offer both indirect and direct procurement as well as services based on its supply chain optimization technology. This gives it a great advantage over other players in this market space. Materials used directly in manufacturing finished goods must arrive on time and in the correct quantities, but most e-markets support making the transactions only and do nothing to aid users in determining when, what, and how many parts to buy.

A key ingredient of i2's marketplaces, and the one that differentiates them from competitive offerings, are their planning and optimization services, such as those of i2's latest release, FreightMatrix. Unveiled recently at the Internet and Electronic Commerce Expo in New York City, FreightMatrix is ostensibly a vertical marketplace for logistics service providers, but additionally provides the back-end fulfillment capabilities for i2's other procurement matrices. While FreightMatrix is transparent to users of the other markets, it provides support for the various order consolidation and ensures promised cost savings are a reality.

User Recommendations

Though proposed benefits sound impressive, the fact remains that most vertical B2B marketplaces are just getting started and have yet to prove themselves. Press announcements predictably avoid mentioning the tremendous dedication required from procurement workers and technical staff to maintain the content for these marketplaces. Problems are compounded by the rampant lack of knowledge in organizations that are accustomed to twentieth century modes of procurement. Technology always arrives before people acquire the skills they need to manage it effectively. Whether users who sign onto these marketplaces realize promised rewards remains an open question.

Of all the companies hawking e-markets, though, i2 has the vision, capital, and strategic partners in place to make the proposed benefits a reality.


Vertical Marketplace
Vertical Focus
i2 Equity Partners
Open for Business
HightechMatrix.com High tech electronics none Now
SoftgoodsMatrix.com Apparel and softgoods VF Corp. April 1
Fasturn.com Apparel and textiles Fasturn, Inc. Second quarter
MyAircraft.com Aerospace Honeywell International
United Technologies Corp.
Second quarter
iStarXchange Automotive parts and service Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. Second quarter
Tradematrix Retail Services Retail and consumer goods services none Second quarter
Horizontal Marketplace
Open for Business
FreightMatrix.com Logistics providers and the services source for shippers participating in vertical TradeMatrix marketplaces Second quarter
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