i2 e-Business Strategy Services Not For Everyone

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i2 e-Business Strategy Services Not For Everyone
S. McVey - October 16, 2000

Event Summary

i2 Technologies recently announced eSOA, an e-business extension to its Strategic Opportunity Assessment services. Like its precursor, eSOA provides a structured methodology for breaking down the complexities of e-business so that clients can understand how they can capitalize on Internet technology to streamline their businesses or pursue new Internet opportunities. eSOA activities are performed by i2's Strategic Services Group.

Gate Gourmet, a leading airline caterer, was one of the first companies to take advantage of the new services and had positive things to say. "i2's eSOA methodology distills e-business down to its essence, making the path toward e-business and the opportunities inherent in e-business clear," said George Alvord, president, Gate Gourmet, Division of the Americas. One result of Gate Gourmet's eSOA was e-gatematrix, a business-to-business marketplace to manage catering and related services for the airline and travel industries. Though Gate Gourmet seemed pleased with the results, vendor-supplied strategic services are not for every company.

Market Impact

Vendors and analysts differ in their views on the merits and aims of vendor-supplied strategic services. Vendors maintain that such services are intended merely to assist companies understand how technology can help their businesses. Many analysts view them as ploys to sell hesitant companies a slew of products they don't really need. The truth usually falls somewhere in between what is viewed by the vendor as an act of philanthropy and what analysts feel is an outright scam.

Though other e-business software providers offer prospective clients high-level consulting in advance of a software contract, none staff business consulting groups as large or aggressive as i2's. In fact, the group is so pervasive that it frequently collides with third party consulting partners in pre-sales situations. The scope of services offered by i2 is also much broader than those of its peers and overlap into areas traditionally the domain of strategy firms. By allowing it to influence the design stage of a company's Internet strategy, eSOA gives i2 the ability to suggest initiatives that lend themselves to support by i2 applications. Companies in their zeal to evolve into Internet-ready businesses often overlook the potential conflict of interest this creates.

User Recommendations

eSOA may be a good idea for companies that already have an understanding of their Internet readiness and want to see how i2 products and services can support internally-developed goals and business processes. Those companies that are uncertain where they should spend money would do well to pass over eSOA and seek help from a third party consultant who can conduct an independent review. Otherwise, companies risk purchasing software that supports i2's business objectives, not theirs.

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