Study: B2B To Reach $137B by 2005

Despite the economic downturn and a generally gloomy outlook for the dot-world, companies around the globe will increase their spending on business-to-business (B2B) e-marketplaces from US$2.6 billion in 2000 to $137.2 billion by 2005, according to new data from Jupiter Research.

Spending in North America alone will grow from $2.1 billion to $80.9 billion, the firm predicted.

Currently, North American companies account for 81 percent of the total spending, but by 2005, that figure will drop to only 60 percent of the total, Jupiter said.

“During an economic slowdown, businesses look to increase efficiency through shortened product development cycles, collaboration and lowered product costs through better planning,” said Marc Harrison, research director of Jupiter’s Custom Strategy and Research group.

Harrison told the E-Commerce Times that the increased growth of B2B infrastructure outside of North America will occur because “companies outside the U.S. will begin to appreciate the opportunities” of B2B marketplaces.

Jupiter is forecasting that by 2005, trade on e-marketplaces will reach 2.2 trillion.

Custom Work

In 2000, as companies took their first tentative steps toward building B2B e-marketplaces, they were content with one-size fits all e-commerce software packages to power their marketplaces, according to Jupiter.

However, as B2B grows up, companies are demanding new functionality — a demand that is creating new opportunities for companies that can successfully predict what e-marketplaces will demand in the long term.

The features that Jupiter believes will be important, as e-marketplaces become more deeply integrated into the supply chain, include collaboration and decision support systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) functionality.

“The shift toward Net Markets by many brick-and-mortar businesses brings to light many significant back-end integration issues,” Harrison said. “This translates to huge revenue opportunities for technology and services enablers, something we will see even more of as these marketplaces reach the next level of maturity.”

Most likely to benefit from the boom are application service providers (ASPs) and systems integrators, which could net a third of B2B infrastructure spending by 2005.

Planning Ahead

E-marketplace executives are already beginning to address the needs of their customers. Jupiter’s survey of executives at over 90 e-marketplaces found that that many have already implemented or plan to implement a host of key features in the next 18 months.

Topping the list of new features is a trading system, which 92 percent of respondents have already implemented or are planning to add, and a marketing system, already implemented or planned by 76 percent of respondents.

Other planned features include CRM features, electronic bill presentation and payment (EBPP) services, catalog management, and inventory management capabilities.

Notably, only 32 percent of firms said that they intended to add additional security features, prompting Harrison to point out that security is “less of an issue when you move away from credit card payments.” Unlike in the business-to-consumer arena, in the B2B world most transactions are not paid with credit cards, but rather are paid through lines of credit or other terms negotiated by the companies.

Year of the B2Bs

Among the strongest e-marketplace players currently are industry-sponsored marketplaces (ISMs), such as those backed by the auto, aerospace and retail industries. ISMs are currently focused on governance and organizational issues, with some still in the process of selecting technology vendors.

A host of new e-marketplaces opened their virtual doors in 2000, including the auto industry’s Covisint, the aerospace industry’s Aerospan, and the retail industry’s Worldwide Retail Exchange.

A report issued at the beginning of December by Jupiter found that of the 58 ISMs launched during the year, 41 percent had already opened their virtual doors. Jupiter predicted that another 33 percent would go live during December.

Jenna Pelaez, an associate analyst with Jupiter,told the E-Commerce Times that based on data gathered since that study was released, it “looks like they did go live.”

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