A View from the Top

Despite bad weather, rolling blackouts, the iSource Summit was a success.

Leave it to me to arrive in San Francisco smack-dab in the middle of every kind of bad news imaginable, from the worst winter storm in years to the threat of rolling blackouts to a blimp crashing into a restaurant (as Dave Barry would say, I'm not making this up). While sightseeing was held to a minimum (a glimpse of Chinatown, some fog, the occasional cable car) there was more than enough going on at the iSource Summit to keep me occupied.

While the Great Dot-Com Shakeout may have everyone this side of Alan Greenspan's barber having kittens over the economic future, it's clear that some heavy hitters are banking, with reason, on the B2B space being a major player in the future. All it took was a walk through the exhibit hall or attendance at a few of the sessions to realize that, in spite of any market jitters, B2B is going to be more than just an economic flash in the pan. There is simply too much capital and expertise being developed and employed for there not to be some tangible results.

The Summit saw presentations from companies as varied as printing auction site 58k.com, industry giant Ariba, and sourcing site eBreviate. Yes, but they have to be present. Their livelihood is built around the Internet, you might say, if you're of a cynical bent, and you like talking to your computer. But there were also presentations from established Old Economy companies such as American Express, Office Depot and Dun & Bradstreet, companies that have done quite well without an Internet presence.

Listening to the speeches and reading the literature of the attending companies, one thing that came to my mind was that B2B opportunities, as a whole, are like teenagers. They've shed some baby fat, and the potential for a literal world of activity is obvious, but the final shape they'll take remains to be seen. But whatever the result, it will be impressive. As Aaron Victorian, senior purchasing agent with Dallas Airmotive said, It [the Summit] was an excellent opportunity to meet with enablers who can help us with our e-procurement initiative.

Focusing on that impressive potential, iSource will present its second conference, the New Economy Enablement Expo (Ne3) July 23-25 at the Hynes Center in Boston. The most comprehensive group of B2B enablers and executives ever assembled, Ne3 will feature over 380 exhibitors, executive roundtables, breakout sessions, panel discussions on such topics as logistics, auction sites and content management. For information, visit www.ne3boston.com, or call 866-222-3722. We promise a world of useful material, and no crashing blimps.