Four Reasons Why Your Company Needs a B2B Marketplace
While the world becomes ever more data-driven, and consumer markets embrace digital purchasing and supply chains, the world of B2B information services remains stubbornly stuck in its old ways. Buying information services – whether it’s real-time exchange quote data, time-series histories or metadata describing products, financial or otherwise – remains a highly manual process involving much to and fro’ing between sales teams and procurement executives, and often requiring an entirely discrete delivery mechanism. In short, the information services marketplace continues to be opaque and intermediary-driven, with orders, invoicing and payments stuck in the Ice Age of email, fax and paper.
This increasingly anachronistic approach is costly on a number of levels. There’s the direct cost of deploying expensive sales executives to engage in lengthy conversations with prospects. But there’s also the cost of missed business opportunities, and the overhead of maintaining an expensive delivery system that is most likely outdated and inefficient.
Things may be about to change, however. A ‘perfect storm’ of factors may be signaling a major shift in the way corporations, financial institutions, exchanges and others buy and sell information.
Digital procurement is not a new idea – people discussed the potential ‘Sabreization’ of market data back in the 1980s in a reference to an early travel industry middleware platform, Sabre. But to date it’s been dominated by largely horizontal approaches that fail to address the highly specific and nuanced requirements that typically characterize industry workflows.
Existing e-procurement systems are expensive and can be difficult to use. They often have a direct transaction fee model, and can require lengthy set-up and onboarding. Finally, and crucially, they omit integrated payment facilities; they digitize aspects of the commercial interaction between sellers and buyers, but don’t go the full nine yards.
1. Frictionless User Experience
As Millennials start to take on decision-making roles in industry, they are finding these legacy mechanisms wanting. They don’t appreciate clunky, offline workflows, and want to see the same kind of seamless e-commerce capabilities they have grown up with on their phones.
2. Automated Processes
Help may be at hand, though. The explosion in integrated payments solutions is making it easy for software developers to introduce new business models that support free ordering, invoice factoring and other related services that can drive adoption of new marketplace technologies.
Often armed with sophisticated workflow tools for both buyers and sellers, these emerging platforms help all parties to a transaction navigate potentially complex commercial arrangements, helping sellers to unlock the value of their extensive datasets and buyers to find and onboard the precise data they need to realize an emerging business opportunity.
3. System Interoperability
What’s more, the widespread embrace of API-driven architectures is enabling better communications between applications, allowing operators of B2B marketplaces to build truly multi-vendor product catalogs that have the in-built flexibility to support real-time pricing information and product descriptions. As a result, the time is right for the information services segment to consider how emerging marketplace platforms and technologies could streamline the data sales process and by extension unlock the value of heretofore ignored datasets.
4. Fully Managed Service
New and emerging data marketplace technologies tick a lot of the boxes for practitioners in the information services segment. They are low cost, and have the flexibility to support indirect service charges, through payments and lending, advertising or volume discounts. They are typically vertical in approach – as opposed to horizontal – which allows them to address the specific workflows of the segment they are targeting. They support rapid onboarding, which helps buyers and sellers respond quickly to emerging business opportunities. And because they can rigorously vet participants, they help build the trust between buyers and sellers that is so essential for the success of any shift to an e-commerce model.
Curious to know more? The following white paper explores the emergence of B2B marketplaces and offers a series of potential use-cases that illustrate how emerging technologies can be deployed by firms at various points in their journey toward putting in place a fully functioning and commercially viable data production, sales and distribution mechanism.
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Use Cases to Unlock the Value of Your Data