What future for e-Marketplaces?

First of all, happy new year to all of you reading my posts! Now and since the official launch of this blog 7 weeks ago, you are on average more or less 60 visitors browsing daily 250 pages. Nothing outstanding at all there but still, I am happy about it. To start 2007, let me give you my prediction: … I’ll reach 500 unique readers – or more – at the end of the year!

But let’s be serious…In a quite compelling article from Alain Andreoli (CEO of cc-hubwoo) written on ELP’s magazine (October 2006 edition), you can learn more about his vision of the B2B e-Marketplace world. Though I share most of his points and absolutly agree that

  • further and significant consolidation is inevitable,
  • B2B Supplier Networks is the future of B2B trading e-Marketplaces,

I can’t afford not to add a comment about Alain Andreoli’s perception of e-Marketplace adoption:

This is a raditional sequence of events in the life-cycle of a new technology. In his book, Diffusions of Innovations, Everett rogers stated that only 2.5 per cent of adopters of a new innovation or idea could be categorised as innovators, 13.5 per cent as “early adopters”, 34 per cent as “early majority”, 34 per cent as “late majority” and 16 per cent as “laggards.” Where do you belong? I believe the market is just entering the early majority stage. the bell curve is ahead!

Early majority? 34 per cent of adopters? … how can it be! If we do speak about usage of online-trading e-Marketplaces (vertical, public or private portals enabling to buy products or services online) I would personally say that we are still in the innovator stage with no more than 2,5 per cent of adopters. Argument: If you add up all buy-side customers from all major vendors (read my learnings from a 2006 Forrester research) representing, according to 20/80 Pareto ruling, 80 per cent of the sector revenue and 20 per cent of total e-Marketplace clients, you end-up with ~1000 buy-side companies. So current market is involving more or less 10.000 enterprises total and… worldwide! Compared to the – few – 2M companies referenced in Kompass, this is less than 1 per cent. Ok, I could admit the early adopters stage has be reached within the fortune 1000 companies group, but that’s it.
What I mean is that e-B2B applications (Spend analysis, Sourcing, Procurement…) didn’t pick-up yet; they are not mature enough yet. Something key is missing (easiness of use and implementation, realtime benefit and return on investment) and have still to be invented. The coming years will be really interesting from this perspective. Acknowledging we are still in a very early stage of adoption after ~10 years is key for a proper understanding of what to do in the future. As you probably understood, I am convinced the adoption level is still much too low; because of the cost and leadtime of deployment of an eProcurement solution; because of the lack of interoperability of current marketplaces; because of the lack of reliability of ASP providers (read the nice post from Jason Busch about Perfect Commerce); because of the too long ROI of such solutions…but most of all – I believe – because of the lack of speed and real-time benefits that anyone is expecting from web-based applications and can find elsewhere in competitive B2B or C2C e-Marketplaces like e-Bay or Alibaba somehow. Future applications have to be user-centric and not process-centric. This is where critical progress have to be made to initiate the snow-ball effect expected in the Y2K; and this will most probably happen in the field of B2B supplier networks. Let’s wait and see.


  1. Frank Bennett 20 April 2007
  2. Andrew Zino 23 May 2007
  3. jp.massin 23 May 2007
  4. Andrew Zino 25 May 2007

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