[From iSource Business, September 2000] Like most revolutions, this one follows the leaders, among them our pick of the most interesting e-business companies: Ariba, Commerce One, FreeMarkets, Ventro, Works.com, Extricity and Bowstreet. They're very different companies in their contributions to procurement and e-business as a whole, as well as in their visions of the future and their roles in propelling the Internet revolution. For now, their esprit de corps derives from the gigantic adrenaline rush that comes from hurling weapons of mass disruption at the old regime.
Each one represents a separate piece of the e-business puzzle. We'll show you not only what these companies are doing to change the way the B2B strategic sourcer buys, but also how and why they're doing it. At the very least, we should credit the Internet revolution with turning our attention from the mundane to this delightful, weightless realm of possibilities. But should you march to the guns or wait for the all quiet? What will the world look like when the smoke clears?
The jury has already delivered its verdict, says Extricity's Vice
President of Marketing, Dave Cope. Without exception, the consensus among our seven Internet companies is that businesses must implement an e-business strategy within the next 18 months or face extinction. However, as Woody Allen once said, Ninety percent of success is showing up. Every conceivable solution, whether stand-alone or integrated, prepackaged or customizable, easy-to-use or complex, cost-effective or expensive, is out there. The instructions on the boxes, as always, begin with determining your business needs. Easier said than done when you're surrounded by options you didn't know you needed. However, the need may not be saving 2 percent on break-room supplies, but showing up and developing a competitive edge.
How These Seven Made the Cut
Most Internet companies are, by nature, innovative. What makes one stand out above the crowd? What makes its innovation sticky? In part, it's the thing that makes users sit back in their chairs and say, Wow, that's cool. To elicit that reaction, a company had to make a real contribution to procurement and show a level of responsiveness to customers by continuing to innovate. To the extent that any young business is stable, these seven are solid in terms of their management, market know-how, company culture and investor support. We've also relied on what we've been able to glean of their best practices and financial management. See the accompanying company profiles.
This is not a Top 7 list. It does not represent the latest and greatest. The seven we selected simply fit well into each of our criteria; at the same time they represent a wide grouping of innovative Internet companies.
Drum roll, please...
Ariba throws parties for its customers the day their e-markets go live. It's a happy occasion for Ariba, because quick time to market is its mantra. The company¹s ideal customers are in the Global 2000; they're big, they can generate significant return on investment (ROI) and can haul in boatloads of suppliers -- the network effect. Ariba's vision is of communities of companies that will form around very large exchanges; and as a result ... we better own it and license it out to other parties, says Bobby Lent, cofounder and senior vice president of strategic development.
Ariba holds no patents for its software products. Instead it pays royalties to outside developers. What Ariba pioneered is its ability to bring these powerful technologies to bear on the business processes of very large enterprises and get them to work on the Web. Electronic procurement was the proving ground because of the spend Global 2000 companies are able to leverage.
The technology that powers Ariba's customers is the organizational resource management system (ORMS) and ORMX, the hosted version for application service providers (ASPs). ORMS provides buyers with the automated picks and shovels they need to integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, process approvals, route invoices and perform other tasks. The B2B commerce platform is a customizable avenue to automating internal procurement processes, conducting online transactions with suppliers and creating e-markets. Another technology feature, Ariba Buyer, facilitates purchasing and supply management functionality and can stand alone or link to the Ariba Market-place, where sellers are brought into the fold via the Supplier Link Program. Their Dynamic Trade consists of auction, bid/ask and reverse auction programs.
These advances, enhancements and discoveries in technology cause the
business community to reflect on the e-business environment. B2B is on the verge of pulling B2C out of the rubble. Company spokesperson Ellie Javadi says, B2B should have come before B2C. The implication is that B2C put the cart before the horse, which Lent sees as a natural sequence of events given the technology available at the time. What he refers to as the three-legged stool of e-commerce is the Net, the browser and the ability to secure transactions. The problems for B2B have been more complex, because no single person in a company is the buyer. One-to-one is a consumer concept. For business, every set of buyers has a set of influencers. The enablement of a buyer in a common-sense way was the fundamental thing that had to happen, which is what
we focused on, says Lent.
The market has shifted to give suppliers the proper tools to participate in e-markets. Next is B2B2C; according to Lent, There's no industry where this isn't true. For Ariba this means seeing an end-to-end solution as a ribbon that winds its way through an organization, around suppliers and partners, and ends in a bow around the customer.
The focus is on large, complex enterprises with diverse purchasing needs across multiple business units. Ariba offers a complete range of
custom-built e-business products and services that automate procurement to reduce the costs of MRO and direct goods, streamline business processes, facilitate negotiations and provide timely analytical data.
Keith Krach, CEO
Headquarters: Mt. View, CA
Customers: Chemdex, Neoforma.com, PetroCosm
Partners: CoreHarbor, i2, J.D. Edwards
Q2 2000 Revenues: $80.7 million
Market Cap: $29.8 billion
1-yr. High: 183 Low: 16 9/16
6/26/00 Ariba announces purchase of online marketplace SupplierMarket.com.
The deal is expected to be completed by Fall 2000.
Commerce One began as DistriVision, a developer of automated supplier
catalog software. CEO Mark Hoffman joined the company in 1996, a year before the name change; it was his idea to build on DistriVision¹s sell-side expertise to create an online environment where buyers and sellers would work together in one place -- MarketSite. Hoffman's concept led to the creation of the first B2B online procurement network.
Commerce One has developed the portal concept as an e-market solution. A portal operates like a virtual warehouse of information. But instead of pulling it off a shelf and taking it back to the office in the hope your system will understand it, you do all your work in the warehouse, where information is stored in a common language. Co-workers, partners and suppliers are able to take the information they need off the shelves, swap it back and forth and reorganize it for different purposes, simultaneously and in real time.
An online tour provides a glimpse of how it works. Kyung Kim, MarketSite product manager, calls the approach many-to-one-to-many, where buyers connect to one portal and gain access to many suppliers and vice versa with not much more than a computer and a browser. BuySite Portal Edition 6.0 is a hosted application that customers lease instead of buy. Because it's Web-based, interoperability problems are eliminated. This ASP model is growing in popularity, because businesses can access complex software from somebody else's servers via the Web without the costly installation, integration and maintenance headaches.
BuySite Enterprise Edition 6.0 is an in-house application that implements e-procurement across the entire enterprise, including far-flung divisions, plants and remote offices. The software has been upgraded to handle multiple languages, currency conversion and foreign tax rules. Integration with existing systems is accomplished through Commerce One's proprietary extensible markup language (XML) technology. A company can build its own exchange and host it at MarketSite, then link it to partner exchanges or other portals, whether they belong to Commerce One or to someone else. According to company information, customers are achieving savings of up to 70 percent and 5 to 15 percent on the actual costs of MRO and direct goods, respectively.
MarketSite is also the gateway to the Global Trading Portal, a network of interconnected, international trading hubs. Commerce One is another company aiming for the Global 2000. It's signed on dominant regional companies in Latin America, Europe and Asia to head up exchange portals in the Global Trading Web, which is accessible only to members linked to MarketSite. The goal is to create a network effect within regions, then link these exchanges to each other to form a truly global trading network. According to Kim, this not only saves costs, but creates an opportunity to generate revenue through their own supply chain.
Value Proposition for Buyers:
Global 2000 customers gain access to a growing worldwide network of
interconnected e-markets that bring buyers together with overseas suppliers. The portal concept, as well as the unique ability of BuySite Enterprise Edition 6.0 to implement across an entire enterprise within the intranet and globally, pulls together far-flung e-procurement processes and simplifies tasks for non-technical staff.
Q2 2000 Revenues: $62.7 million
Market Cap: $10.4 billion
1-yr. High: 165 Low: 4 on issue
7/11/00 Commerce One and NTT Communications launch first B2B e-marketplace
Ventro's start-up story is classic.
In a widely reported tale, CEO and co-founder Dave Perry leaves the East Coast for California in 1996 in an old Nissan Maxima with a $50,000 loan and three credit cards. He breaks down a mile from his new home. A year later he helps found Chemdex, the first successful online exchange.
Ventro is often still referred to as Chemdex, which is now one of five exchanges that include Amphire Solutions, Broadlane, Industria Solutions and Promedix. Thus the change in company name from Chemdex to Ventro. Amphire is somewhat of a departure in that it targets the institutional food industry. The synergy comes from the relationships Ventro has developed with companies and hospitals that purchase supplies on its exchanges. There's also SpecialtyMD.com, which consolidates research information for physician specialists and provides supply chain managers and buyers with detailed specifications for highly technical medical equipment and products.
An online tour of Chemdex revealed the exchange's vastness and choice of services. LabPoint automates purchasing and integrates users' existing systems. It gives customers of VWR Scientific Products access to its catalog of 1.3 million products from more than 2,200 suppliers. Another Chemdex product, Science360, provides a hosted e-procurement solution and a catalog of 900,000 products from 700 suppliers. Buyers can conduct searches using a search engine and are able to build a preferred supplier catalog. Off-catalog purchases follow preset rules. Ph.D.-level professionals, the company's content engineers, keep catalogs organized within meaningful categories.
This is how Ventro views the landscape: end-to-end responsibility for the relationship. That's what the market expects. That's what the decision maker is expecting9a technical platform, people to support it and best-of-breed companies to manage the relationship, says Robin Abrams, Ventro COO. The company's vertical exchanges result in potential consequences that go above and beyond saving scientists and health-care professionals time and money.
For example, chemical reagents used in testing can react with each other in ways that alter test results. As much as 50 percent of drug tests performed for FDA approval have to be repeated, which can take many months, even years. Information on these interactions exists but is easily missed in stacks of arcane catalogs and research documents or is too recent to be widely known. The ability to find this information quickly is speeding the testing process and getting faster government approval for new drugs and treatments that could save lives or at least make people feel happier about being alive.
Value Proposition for Buyers:
Buyers within the life-science and health-care fields can dramatically
reduce the time required to source and research medical and laboratory
products. Transactional costs are reduced as a result of the exchanges' ability to unify a highly fragmented market, which also opens the field to new suppliers.
David P. Perry, CEO
Headquarters: Mt. View, CA
Exchanges: Amphire - institutional food supplies; Broadlane - general
hospital supplies; Chemdex - life science; Industria - process plant
Partners: WebMethods; Chemdex - Bio, BIOCOM, MBC, VWR; Amphire -
Entangible.com; Broadlane - Tenet; Industria - DuPont
Q1 Revenues: $23.3 million
Market Cap: $1 billion
1-yr. High: 243 Low: 14 on issue
7/12/00 Ventro and TradeCard announce alliance to allow online bill payment
for international transactions.
Since its founding in 1995 by CEO Glen Meakem, FreeMarkets has set a
standard for online auctions. It now boasts 47 industrial buying companies, more than 4,000 suppliers from over 50 countries, more than 100 categories of vertical supply markets, a total of $5.4 billion worth of auction volume, savings of $1 billion for its customers and nearly $1.4 billion in volume in the first quarter of 2000.
Reverse auctions accelerate the dynamic pricing buyers look for in
e-markets. FreeMarkets oversees auctions of industrial parts; raw materials; commodities; and services from the automotive, consumer goods, energy, high-tech, manufacturing and government arenas. Asset Exchange is FreeMarkets' B2B e-marketplace for used equipment and excess inventory. As a result of technology acquired through the purchase of iMark earlier this year, a guy who sells tractor-trailers in Arizona can post a rig on his own Web site that is then mirrored, or duplicated, across the exchange's network. FreeMarkets Desktop integrates and automates the activities and data necessary for buyers to conduct strategic purchasing and for suppliers to bid on business opportunities in the FreeMarkets B2B e-marketplace.
BidWare is the technology platform that connects to FreeMarkets Desktop, the user interface that guides buyers and sellers through the preparation prior to the auction. According to the company's Web site, BidWare supports nearly 30 auction formats, including transformation auctions (for direct price comparisons of similar products with unique attributes, such as coal from different mines); multicurrency auctions (enabling global suppliers to bid in the currency of choice); and net present value auctions (for evaluating proposals with varying prices over time -- for example, when suppliers' bids decrease to reflect anticipated productivity improvement). Bids are submitted and received in real time via the Web. Buyers are required to accept one of the bids, although not necessarily the lowest. While there are other criteria buyers have to meet, sellers are the real focus. To participate, suppliers are required to participate in Web-based training, which includes a mock bidding event; fill out detailed questionnaires about their businesses; and follow through on their bids.
A cadre of FreeMarkets consultants helps buyers and suppliers through their auctions and provides each party with analysis of its activities. Our consultants are called market makers.' They bring to bear a combination of engineering, economic and supply-market know-how to figure out how to create a competitive private market for each customer, CIO Jane Kirkland says.
It's here that the virtuous cycle of e-commerce comes back around; all
buyers are sellers, and all sellers are buyers. Imagine feverish bidding for your request for quote (RFQ) in one auction, while in another the sell side of your company is feverishly bidding on an RFQ to supply the product your company makes. Net auctions produce a tremendous downward pressure on prices.
Value Proposition for Buyers:
Confidence-building measures ensure that suppliers are qualified to bid and will follow through after the auction. Reverse auctions, particularly those for used industrial equipment, promise significant savings in the purchase of direct goods, which will receive even more attention within the next year.
Glen T. Meakem, CEO
Headquarters: Pittsburgh, PA
Customers: Auto - Visteon; Consumer & Manufacturing - Deere; Energy -
Public: GSA, USPS
Q1 Revenues: $10.8 million
Market Cap: $2.2 billion
1-yr. High: 370 1/00; Low: 36 5/00
7/12/00 After a successful trial run, BP Amoco will purchase goods and
services for its global operations through Freemarket¹s auctions
Fitting for an Austin, Texas, company that counts the Bush for President campaign among its customers, Works.com has Big Mo -- as in the momentum of its innovative approach to delivering a unique customer-service-oriented MRO procurement solution to small-and mid-size businesses -- in the metrics of targeting this huge market. Just how huge has already dawned on the B2B industry, but most of the action is still with the Fortune 2000. That puts Works ahead of the curve in going after the rest of the 4.99 million job-producing U.S. businesses and millions more one-person, mom-and-pop, family-owned and other small outfits that produce most of the nation¹s GDP.
Could be it's just the natural inclination of Texans to be independent.
Where B2B companies have a tendency to ask, Hmm. We have this technology. How can it be applied to the marketplace? CEO Bo Holland's approach has been to identify the market first and then craft a solution. It¹s a generalization, yet for all the talk, including our own, of the Internet's contributions to humanity it¹s still tech driven. This, Holland stresses, has been a matter of necessity. This is really hard, complicated stuff. We've been working up this path that was very necessary for tech companies to grow out of adolescence and deal with the expectations customers have.
FedEx, to use Holland's example, delivers a consistent service. Customers know exactly what to expect, in contrast to their very low expectations of tech companies. Each week, managers at Works make a customer satisfaction call at random. During the company¹s beta stage, the calls produced unexpected reactions. They were surprised not by the call but by the level of service they were getting. The customer wants tech companies to be responsible for the outcome they promised, Holland says.
Works partners with best-of-breed companies to deliver wholesale pricing on office and janitorial supplies, furniture, computers, software and office machines. Partnerships with Ingram Micro and
Everything Wireless announced earlier in the year have boosted the selection of well-known computer and software products and added wireless phones and service. Works is another Web-based service where software works in the background and the customer accesses it from his or her desktop. Buyers log on to purchase from an online catalog of 30,000 items offered by Works' partners; they can set up a Cabinet to facilitate pre-approved purchases of common items. Automated tasks include purchase requests, spending controls, tracking, product returns and reporting. At this stage buyers manage their own catalogs, but the company plans to take over this burden after it has laid the groundwork with suppliers. The cost is $1.50 per transaction plus a small sales commission; shipping is free for orders over $25.
In Extended Marketplace, buyers create a catalog of local or preferred
suppliers. The company will soon announce Branded Marketplace, in which
buyers access products from name-brand companies anywhere on the Net. Works will grab items placed in the shopping carts even before checkout and process the orders elsewhere. Works customers have access to additional business and logistics services. CenterBeam, for example, sets up complete business computer systems for a fee.
The process is kept simple, because, according to Holland, Bidding is a waste of time for most small items. Is creating a request for purchase (RFP) an effective use of time? There will always be a category of goods you'll want to bid out. Works eliminates the day-in, day-out bidding for paper clips and pens. Transaction costs go down, because [supply contracts] don't have to be constantly negotiated.
However, the Cooperative Buying Program is designed for companies that have enough spend to warrant more aggressive buying. Works negotiates volume discounts to offer what it calls Fortune 100 pricing. The company claims savings of up to 30 percent for its customers in monthly supply costs. Customers pay $50 a year and allow Works to manage at least 75 percent of their business product spending. Works measures the efficacy of its business model by analyzing customer retention. Of its 1,000 customers, 70 percent of those who make three or more purchases adopt the complete purchasing-management service. The rate goes up to 90 percent after eight purchases. The company has extended its customer base to 1.2 million through partner Merrill Lynch¹s small-business
Value Proposition for Buyers:
Small- to mid-size companies can save on MRO goods priced wholesale but also have the ability to automate purchasing at a reasonable cost. A
user-friendly environment that requires only a computer and a browser makes buying easy for nontechnical employees. Web-based access to applications that would normally be too costly or difficult to maintain is the wave of the future and is expected to change computing forever, which makes it a good choice for the long term.
Bo Holland, CEO
Headquarters: Austin, TX
Customers: Agillon, DataMark, Garden.com
Partners: Administaff, Merrill Lynch, Great Plains
Investors: Bowman Capital, Hummer Winblad, Merrill Lynch, Presidio Venture
6/27/00 Dell will partner with Works.com to offer its small to mid-size
business customers online purchasing services.
Dave Cope, vice president of marketing, says Extricity was B2B before it was cool. The company was founded in 1996 by Ken Ross, CEO of the first ERP company, and Greg Olsen, a Stanford Ph.D. Olsen studied collaborative engineering at Stanford and developed a concept for applying the Internet's ability to foster collaboration in B2B e-commerce. The result is Extricity's vision of the extended enterprise, itself an entire supply chain. Barry Ariko, a top executive at Netscape and Oracle, succeeded Ross as CEO.
According to Cope, Extricity is leading the industry through the second generation of B2B innovations, enabling true large-scale B2B deployments between businesses and eMarkets.
Extricity provides buy-side technology but is known in the business as an integrator, a category of B2B companies that resolve interoperability problems. The key elements of Extricity B2B 4.0 are Alliance Manager, Integration Adaptors, Partner Channels and Process Paks. The primary technology behind their ability to integrate with other systems is XML, which is rapidly being adopted throughout the software industry. As the company explains on its Web site, it's still more common for buyers to follow up the transaction the old-fashioned way, by phone, fax and e-mail. Extricity for Net Markets enables market makers to automate the business process that follows this event or trade, between a buyer and a supplier.
Cope's remark about EDI refers to the buzz about EDI's 30 percent growth in the first quarter of 2000. His view is that, given Extricity's 300 percent growth, EDI is actually losing market share. EDI breathes rare air mainly among big companies. While expensive to implement, its costs over time have been minimal. Its limited functionality compared to innovations that include dynamic pricing and real-time trading will become more apparent as companies do more business on the Net.
Another concept that makes Extricity's products valuable to buyers is
partner relationship management, which Extricity calls business-to-business relationship management. It takes customer relationship management and extends it to the buy side. Particularly for buyers of direct goods, this concept captures the complexities not of technology but of human interaction. Extricity builds into its product the ability to engage in the types of multifaceted negotiations many e-procurement systems overlook.
Extricity also sees the eventual massing of force around the ultimate
end-user: the customer. However, this customer is the one who buys the lawn mower, rides in the plane or installs the faucet for which your company makes or supplies parts and materials. We're seeing a blurring of buyers and sellers, and it's based on the transaction. The guy who sells stuff to me may turn around and want to buy stuff from me. We're also in the area of specialization and we're seeing more channel masters.
Value Proposition for Buyers:
This procurement-savvy company is on the leading edge of issues important to large buying companies, including facilitating complex, real-time interactions with suppliers and integrating disparate systems.
Barry Ariko, Chairman, CEO and president
Headquarters: Redwood Shores, CA
Customers: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), The North Face
Applications Partners: Ariba, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle
Private - IPO filed 5/15/00
Underwriters: Robertson, Stephens & Company; SG Cowen; Banc of America
Q1 2000 Revenues: $3.5 million
Funding: $85 million
Investors: Aspen Technology, Broadview Capital Partners, Charter Capital Funding, Intel 64 Fund, Invesco, Manugistics, SAP Ventures, Technology Crossover Partners, Wingspring
6/20/00 Extricity will power Com2B, a B2B e-marketplace joint venture of Compaq Taiwan and Commerce One that will enable MRO and direct goods
In the annals of elevator statements, this one's a prize. Bowstreet
co-chairman and founder Frank Moss and President and CEO Bob Crowley, two fun guys passing a cell phone back and forth in the back seat of a taxi on the way from the airport. This is a great spot to segue into explaining that Bowstreet is a sell-side software company, a controversial pick for a story geared to purchasing pros. But what's a good story without plot twists? This one casts purchasing departments as hotbeds of technology and you (the purchasing and supply professional) as the knowledge worker responsible for
The logic has to do with the Web's insistence on flattening organizations and bringing people closer to the decision-making process. As a result, you may find yourself having to know more about the technology that sits behind your desktop. Another reason is the changing nature of the online buyer/supplier relationship. While Fortune 1000 companies carry a big stick to force suppliers into e-markets, technologies such as Bowstreet's are whittling it down to size. In fact, sell side technologies are said to be growing faster than buy side. Together with the advent of a growing number of e-markets, these factors may give suppliers added clout in their customer
Bowstreet is known for its patent-pending XML technology, but their creation is really four or five existing technologies Crowley says they've stirred into a jambalaya. The result is the Business Web Factory, which applies the concept of mass customization to building B2B Web sites that can be managed at the desktop by nontechnical staff using predesigned templates. Each business Web site is unique to the company for which it¹s designed. Because of the way IT works today, if you try to customize each relationship you have to...hand-build them one at a time, Crowley says. Bowstreet's Business Web Factory platform is an alternative to custom software that requires this high level of IT involvement.
The company is on top of the rush to bring suppliers online, but its market has room for buyers as well. Prepackaged applications tend to draw sniffs from certain B2B quarters, but there¹s a growing place for them. Technology is among the MRO goods companies buy, and the cost and complexity of it will be reduced by the very e-markets the B2B companies are creating. The advantages of these applications are quick time to market, a more direct route to managing relationships and the ability of buyers and suppliers to improve service. Although Bowstreet isn't an XML company, XML technology is at the heart of
what it does. To understand it, picture yourself in a foreign country. You know the common language but the natives insist on speaking their particular dialects. You resort to basic gestures to describe things, such as where you want the taxi driver to go or what you want for dinner. HTML is the common language of the Net, but software applications that need to interact with it represent different dialects. XML uses descriptive tags, or gestures, that can be understood by different programs. For example, XML tags understand
that price in one supplier catalog is the same as prc in another;
product descriptions aren't missed or scrambled on the way to catalog
According to Crowley, Companies will compete on the services they provide, not the products that they sell. Bowstreet's free Business Web Factory wraps companies' core competencies in XML to turn them into Web services that can be quickly and easily shared over the Internet. For example, a company that makes corporate logowear and has perfected B2B online order fulfillment can turn its knowledge into a Web service, publish it free on Business Web Exchange using the Business Web Factory and sell it to other companies on the exchange. Bowstreet's XML jambalaya recipe enables the buyer to plug it into any existing system.
Asked what decision makers should know, Crowley says, The propensity is to see this as futuristic. But if they don't learn about these things, they'll find themselves behind. [The Gartner Group] says that by 2002, 40 percent of companies will be putting large amounts of their core competencies on the Web. Within two years we're looking at a significant shift in the way business is done.
Value Proposition for Buyers:
As more business is conducted online, the reality that the Net fosters more, not less communication will finally hit home. e-procurement will mean more, not less interaction. At that point business Webs will become more common, and key features for buyers will be ease of use and collaborative supply chain management.
Frank Moss, co-chairman
Jack Serfass, co-chairman
Bob Crowley, CEO
Headquarters: Portsmouth, NH
Customers: eframes.com, eZPricing.com, HoustonStreet.com
Exchange Partners: AtYourBusiness.com, freightquote.com, OneSupply
There you have it -- the solid seven -- innovative Internet companies
representative of what's on the market. The key for business executives in charge of their companies' nonlabor spend is to find e-business enablers that help transform the way they impact the bottom line.
Sophisticated purchasing and supply management professionals take on much more strategic importance when they add true value to the company¹s overall business objectives. The successful ones team up with the right mix of e-business enablers.