New reports: AMR Research ranks Top 20 independent trading exchanges

Report also predicts shakeout, anticipates a drastic reduction in ITEs in 2001.

AMR Research Inc. identifies and evaluates the top 20 independent trading exchanges (ITEs) in the Boston firm's new report "Evaluating the Independent Trading Exchanges."

The report outlines a methodology assessing the top ITEs across major vertical industries based on the strength of their business models. It also details the firm's conclusions regarding common trends across vertical segments, identifying the main issues surrounding ITEs and their relatively short life span.

AMR Research predicts that the more than 600 ITEs existing today will be reduced to 50-100 in 2001. As the last few weeks on the NASDAQ has indicated, success for business-to-business (B2B) Internet companies is far from guaranteed.

"The ITE market is still very young, and the future of a successful ITE will ultimately depend on its ability to address participants, technology, and business concerns," said Bruce Richardson, senior vice president. "None of the top 20 ITEs is a sure thing."

The ITE Company Ranking chart indicates that not all ITEs are equal, and that there are four evolving levels of functionality: information, facilitation, transaction, and integration.

The bulk of the B2B start-ups fall under the first category, providing information functionality. The information ITE takes the form of industry directories, product databases and catalogs, discussion forums and billboards, and professional development.

If it has the facilitation functionality, an ITE has the ability to match a buyer's specific need with a supplier's specific offering. The transaction is completed off-line via traditional channels.

If an ITE provides transaction functionality, it provides a higher level of commitment from the ITE and participants, as trading partners can consummate the transaction on-line.

Finally, with integration functionality, ITEs can fit into a larger supply chain and application integration strategy.

AMR Research identifies the leading ITEs ranked by their integration functionality. The top five include: Altra Energy Technologies, Inc., Ventro Corporation (formerly Chemdex),, Inc.,, Inc., and PlasticsNet.Com.

The best-positioned ITEs are in the integration category, where they are successfully leveraging existing relationships and are integrated with legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) systems.

Market overview: major issues and future of ITEs

During the past 18 months, AMR Research has tracked 600 venture-capital-funded ITEs. They predict that within the next year the number of ITEs will drop to two to three exchanges within each industry as a result of bankruptcy, mergers, and acquisitions.

Major issues affecting ITEs across all industries include:

  • Revenue Strategy: AMR Research's analysis shows the current revenue model of deriving fees based on a percentage of the transaction is flawed. The firm expects most ITEs to adopt a tiered subscription model and to focus on developing multiple revenue sources. Ultimately, ITEs will begin to look like application service providers (ASPs).
  • Integration: To be successful, the majority of ITEs will need to partner with enterprise application vendors and systems integrators to address back-office integration issues.
  • Liquidity: Several ITEs are finding it difficult to drive transactions and many have not processed their first orders. As a result, many competing ITEs are beginning to consolidate and are looking to span multiple verticals to increase their revenue.
  • Neutrality: The pressure to build liquidity and increase transaction volume is forcing ITEs to accept equity investments from established brick-and-mortar companies, thus sacrificing their neutrality.
  • Suppliers: Suppliers, concerned with pricing pressures and fear of commodization, are beginning to launch their own exchanges on their own terms, forcing ITEs to dramatically change their business models to accommodate their suppliers who do not want disintermediation.
  • Technology: ITEs provide value through technology, but they do not provide the more important part of the equation: supply chain execution. During the next year, ITEs and wholesale distributors will increasingly take equity stakes in each other to fill their functionality gaps.
To find out more about the AMR Research "Evaluating the Independent Trading Exchanges," visit its Web site at

SPEX scrutinizes PSA software

Reveals key insights for early adopters as emerging players clamor to capture $2 billion market.

SPEX, a Reston, Va.-based end user-oriented information technology (IT) research firm, has introduced a new on-line research module of professional services automation (PSA) software packages.

Professional services organizations (PSOs) focusing on increased efficiency and higher productivity rates require services-oriented solutions to manage human intellectual capital and other enterprise resources.

According to SPEX research, the list of desirable functional components of a PSA solution include:
  • Opportunity management, including managing contacts, leads, proposals, and customer relationships;
  • Resource planning, including staff and skills forecasting and other resource planning;
  • Human capital management, including managing employees, contractors, time, and expenses;
  • Knowledge management, including best practices, methodology, content, and document management;
  • Management of programs, projects, activities with scheduling, resource optimization, risk management, tracking, and quality management tools;
  • Workflow and collaboration, including Web access, enterprise portals, and more;
  • And billing, accounting, and performance measurement.

PSA packages provide the impetus for PSOs to have project management functionality; they also afford them an opportunity to forecast, manage, and allocate resources, as well as analyze various win/loss scenarios.

"The current market leaders have secured a significant client base and continue to deploy new product deliverables at a rapid clip," stated Audrey Mickahail, program director at SPEX. "Their window of opportunity might be short-lived due to market consolidation and increased competition. We expect ERP and project management vendors to leverage their existing functionality and professional services organization's client base, and enter the PSA space with the promise of tight integration with front- and back-office applications."

Mickahail continued, "There is no silver bullet. Users should consider what functionality is most critical and which vendors are best positioned to survive the frenetic pace and vigorous ride."

The SPEX Professional Services Automation research module helps PSOs evaluate and select the appropriate package for their business environment. In addition to pricing, licensing, standards, integration, design, and architecture, the research module includes extensive evaluations of relevant features and functions covering all PSA areas.

SPEX's evaluations of PSA software packages include:
  •, from Inc.;
  • Changepoint, from Changepoint Corp.;
  • eServices, from Novient Inc.;
  • PlanView, from PlanView Systems Inc.;
  • ServicePort Enterprise, from Portera Systems Inc.;
  • and ServiceSphere, from Evolve Inc.

SPEX research deliverables contain a comprehensive Guide and Checklist of questions and criteria for selecting the best package, positioning graphs illustrating functional depth in critical areas, and SPEXmark ratings summarizing each package's functionality, user friendliness, technology, and market strength. SPEX evaluations can be customized to meet users' specific needs, using the SPEX Compass, an Excel-based model that provides the details of the scores used to build SPEX's product positioning graphs. All components of the SPEX research module are available from the Client Area of the SPEX web site.

For more information, visit the company's web site at

PricewaterhouseCoopers releases annual technology trends forecast

Report examines impact of global technology, from computing platforms to wireless communications.

A greater number of businesses using wireless data transmission, the emergence of ERP vendors competing as application service providers (ASPs), and the task of allowing computer systems to access the Internet are just some of the technology trends discussed in the recently released 11th annual PricewaterhouseCoopers Technology Forecast.

Technology Forecast: 2000 is a comprehensive analysis of both the underlying infrastructure technologies that drive the advancements in e-business and the new computing platforms that global businesses will use. Technology Forecast: 2000 provides deep insight on current and future technology trends, with the goal of enabling global business leaders to anticipate change and to plan for the future.

The Technology Forecast also examines advances in business computing technology, including ever-shrinking PCs, the replacement of CD-ROM drives with DVD, speech and handwriting recognition, "smart" appliances, virtual reality interfaces, and the first non-military applications for ultra-wideband wireless communications.

Developed by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Technology Centre in Menlo Park, Calif., the Technology Forecast is an annual guide to the current and future technologies that companies will be using on a global scale. For more information, visit the company's Web site at

Survey identifies strategic issues for manufacturers

Automation architecture, the Internet, and integration with ERP top the list.

In a recent poll conducted by ARC Advisory Group Inc. on behalf of its Manufacturing Users Group (MUG), MUG member companies identified key issues having significant impact on their manufacturing strategies.

According to the survey, the three most popular issues and their vote percentages as voted by MUG members were:
  • factory of the future architecture (13.6%);
  • impact of the Internet on automation (13.3%);
  • and integration of ERP to the plant floor (12.4%).

ARC formed MUG based on the belief that common production-centric strategies can be created regardless of what is manufactured. Membership includes key decision-makers in the world of automation, supply chain, and e-business technologies, and is restricted to those in the end-user community. To date, MUG membership represents 13 different vertical industries cutting across process manufacturing, discrete manufacturing, and utilities from around the world. The MUG steering committee consists of executives from Nabisco Corp., Eastman Kodak Corp., Unilever PLC, E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co. Inc., and General Motors Corp.

Any end user of e-business solutions, supply chain solutions, or automation products and services who is interested in learning about the MUG can go to the ARC Web site:

The complete details on the key strategic issues impacting manufacturing as identified by the ARC MUG can be found in an ARC report, "ARC MUG Members Identify and Examine Top Manufacturing Concerns" on the ARC Web site:

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