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.
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.
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.
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.