It seems like a new e-Marketplace is announced every day. Businesses in almost every sector of the economy are betting that electronic procurement and fulfillment systems will streamline business processes, improve production decisions and speed time to market. Leading industry analysts like Goldman Sachs are forecasting that online trading volumes will reach $1.5 trillion by 2004 - and multiples of that in the years to follow. Market caps for leading platforms have reached multi-billion levels within months of IPO in anticipation of new foundnewfound riches. But something is wrong. Online trading volumes haven't materialized as predicted.
What's wrong? In a phrase, not enough beef. Today's Web trading systems don't provide a complete solution to a business community jaded by years of broken promises from software vendors. With today's Web services, you can easily find a vendor, send out a purchase order and get an order confirmation on the Web. You can even apply for and receive credit online. But then you must go offline to complete the shipment, receive the goods, invoice your customer and collect the money. And you get to do the integration of these diverse services into your environment at the same time you install the latest fix to your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). And when you do it's not clear that promised lower prices, reduced purchasing costs and better visibility to supply chain conditions will result - at least not enough to offset the cost and headache of implementing the solution. Yet.