As per Part I, over seven years ago, Sourcing Innovation published Introducing B2B 3.0 and Simplicity for All, which is available as a free download, to help educate you on the next generation of B2B and prepare you for what comes next. The expectation was that, by now, we would be awash in B2B 3.0 (Business to Business 3.0), which was simply defined as the first generation of technology that actually puts business users on the same footing as consumers, but are we?
SI would like to jump right in and answer that question, but first we have to discuss B2B 2.0 and get our terminology straight before we can discuss B2B 3.0.
B2B 2.0: The “Marketplace” era
In the early naughts, thanks in part to efforts by large B2C and C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) players like Amazon and e-Bay who made great strides in bringing security, trust, and quality to on-line platforms, e-Commerce became a major part of the consumer world. The growth of online business in some industries was so expensive that, almost overnight, small stores and chains started suffering and going out of business. Why pay $20 for a CD that an online store would sell for $14 and ship free if you bought 4 of them?
The end result was that businesses saw the potential of the web to host large, on-line marketplaces, and address the content and community requirements, and a large number of B2B marketplaces and private networks sprang into existence. This included dozens of general purpose marketplaces, including the likes of Ariba, Enporion (now GEP), Quadrem (now Ariba), and TPN Register (acquired by GXS, now OpenText GXS which sprang onto the scene alongside dozens of vertical-specific marketplaces like Aeroxchange, ChemConnect (gone), eSourceApparel (gone), and GNX (merged with WWRE, now Global Sources). The technology was more advanced than 1.0, but it only offered basic e-Procurement features — such as catalog management, request-for-bid, simple reverse auction, and supplier directories. B2B 2.0 expanded the marketplace for e-Procurement as these marketplaces spurred a flurry of new market entrants (such as Emptoris, Ketera [now Deem], and SciQuest) and allowed mid-tier buyers and suppliers to get in the game. And even though dynamic content was limited, and search was primitive, B2B 2.0 was made out to be a good thing.
But in the end, the gains didn’t negate the losses. Even though the marketplaces and private networks initially thrived, the high access fees became even more prohibitive as suppliers had to be on multiple networks to service their buyers and buyers had to be on multiple networks if they wanted to discover new suppliers. Again, only the e-Procurement vendors won.
Lesson learned? Private Networks are redundant with the BIG Network, the ONE Network, the Internet and network redundancy (not machine redundancy in data centres) is bad, especially when everyone is on the same internet that supports the same internet protocol stack and can connect with the same open protocol.