i2 Paints Broad Strokes at eDay

  • Written By: Steve McVey
  • Published: August 29 2000

i2 Paints Broad Strokes at eDay
S. McVey - August 29, 2000

Event Summary

At eDay, a one-day event for press and analysts in New York City, i2 Technologies announced the availability of TradeMatrix Network, the next evolution of its e-marketplace offering. In Network, i2 combines its horizontal services like FreightMatrix, content from its 2000-strong supplier network, tools for helping clients post their own parts inventories, open APIs for connection to other private and public marketplaces, and templates for over 14 industries.

In addition to announcing Network, President Greg Brady outlined i2's five-part strategy for helping customers apply e-marketplaces to build competitive advantage:

  • Provide a platform to create marketplaces and deliver solutions to improve internal efficiencies of all marketplace participants.

  • Offer a one-stop-shop for a wide variety of collaborative e-business services, with each service supported by decision optimization, transaction management and content management solutions.

  • Create a global e-business network by providing marketplace-to-marketplace (M2M) connectivity. TradeMatrix marketplaces are built on open standards and can inter-operate with other marketplaces.

  • Offer simple and fast solutions for companies in the early stages of e- business adoption, as well as next-generation solutions for those companies who are more advanced.

  • Partner with consulting companies and other software providers to provide maximum flexibility to our customers.

These points target key obstacles that prevent enterprises from gaining full benefit from Internet marketplace technology.

Market Impact

i2's strategy lays the groundwork for what could be a revolution in the brave new world of Internet marketplaces. Most of today's marketplaces enable one of the following: collaboration, direct material procurement, indirect material procurement, or optimization services. None can do it all, at least not in a coherent way that is transparent to the user. Internet procurement of both direct and indirect materials, when divorced from collaboration, is little more than a convenient (and potentially low-cost) channel for buying and selling materials. Without optimization services that help direct and govern procurement transactions, companies suffer the very inefficiencies the technology is designed to eradicate. What i2 has outlined is a plan that seeks to address these areas simultaneously, a monumental undertaking and one that will take months to achieve.

Part of the reason behind the difficulty lies outside the programming world and derives from the separation between the people developing the applications and those who use them. In trumpeting the potential benefits of their products, software vendors often fail to mention the effort involved in devising the business processes they are designed to automate.

Developers design and code software at locations where users never visit. By and large, they rely solely on second-hand feedback from implementation consultants and helpdesk support personnel. Most vendors have committees that review current applications, bug reports, market trends, customer requests, etc., and decide which features to include and which new applications to pursue. As talented as the people in these groups may be, the ideas that reach development are nevertheless many times removed from the point where the applications will be used - the real world.

User Recommendations

Marketing people are adept at taking collections of applications and technologies and combining them into an elegant vision that fits nicely on a PowerPoint slide. A disconnect between software and its application is inevitable, and users need to understand that the master plans showcased in press releases exist only on paper. i2 receives a great deal of criticism for delivering less than it sells, but remains the one SCM B2B vendor most capable to realize its e-marketplace vision.

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