i2 Now Serving B2B Suppliers

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i2 Now Serving B2B Suppliers
S. McVey - May 29, 2001

Event Summary

i2 recently announced a selection of services intended to help suppliers connect to buyer-centric marketplaces. Suppliers of both MRO and direct goods have been regarded as second citizens by B2B e-marketplace vendors who have focused largely on addressing the procurement needs of corporate enterprises while asking suppliers to fend for themselves. In part to redress this oversight, i2 Supplier Enablement will offer connectivity, content, order management, planning, collaboration, and integration services to enable rapid connection of suppliers, buyers, and public marketplaces at a cost-effective price, and to provide complete e-commerce capabilities for all trading partners. While none of the service offerings are new, i2 has presented them in a novel way that it hopes will attract the attention of a neglected market.

Market Impact

Of the i2 Supplier Enablement components, the most promising may be MRO Services, which allows suppliers and distributors a low cost way to make parts catalogs available to a wide audience of buyers. MRO Services is an outgrowth of a deal signed with i2 in January in which both partners agreed to resell each other's solutions. While the formal relationship is just months old, i2 and MRO (or PSDI) have joined together on numerous client engagements to integrate their solutions and MRO has an excellent track record.

Beyond MRO Services and any price breaks afforded by selecting multiple components from the new Enablement slate of offerings, suppliers are unlikely to yield great benefits. If nothing else, they should be encouraged by the formal advance of i2 into this market as it indicates that interest in supplier problems continues to rise among SCM, ERP, and CRM vendors.

User Recommendations

Suppliers that are thinking of utilizing i2 Supplier Enablement should be forewarned that it does not offer a quick fix to their integration problem. Connectivity standards are constantly evolving and i2 has no magic toolkit that will mitigate the hardship in marrying supplier systems to a diverse array of e-marketplaces and procurement hubs. Although i2 offers products for supplier relationship management, suppliers may want to consider i2 services in conjunction with products built expressly for them such as those from Ironside or Trigo. Hubspan offers suppliers a hosted solution for connecting to a buyer-centric world.

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