Forbes has a special report on the world of B2B (business-to-business ecommerce). During the Internet boom era of the 1990s, B2B was the magic wand that would change everything. Then, the buzz faded. Now, it is making a comeback as a “basic business tool”. From the introduction:
What many of the early B2B cheerleaders failed to graspand what the Rayovacs of the world are grappling with todayis the fact that pricing is merely one element in the highly complex relationships along supply chains. Reliability, speed and innovation matter toobut in as many different ways as there are companies.
Make no mistake, though, the B2B revolution is happeningjust not on the terms originally envisioned. Instead of upstart exchanges taking the ramparts, industry incumbents are leading the charge. Firms like Wal-Mart, Dell and Cisco are nudging, and sometimes forcing, suppliers to make nitty-gritty changes that are glamorous only when they reach the bottom line.
But reach it they can. The technologies that companies install to communicate with their partners can reduce supply chain costs by half, says the Yankee Group. That helps explain why companies are increasing spending on such technologies by 100% to 150% annuallyeven as they cut back on overall information technology budgets. In fact, B2B commerce has actually grown despite the bursting of the stock market bubble that once surrounded it. Worldwide, e-business activity is to grow five-fold in three years to $1.4 trillion in 2003 and then is expected to nearly double again to $2.4 trillion next year, figures e-business research firm Emarketer.
From the Small Business section: “The Internet and Web-based technologies have been a godsend to many small businesses. Best-of-breed efficiencies and unparalleled market breadth are now within reach, and technology providers are chomping at the bit to meet the demand. In 2003, small businesses like Art’s Trucking and Debbie’s Bridal Boutique are expected to spend $161 billion on information technology, according to InStat. And this is just the beginning. Some 70% of small businesses still lack even a simple Web site.” The four sites named as Best of the Web are:
– EBay Stores
– Microsoft BCentral
– Yahoo Small Business