Supply chain software vendor i2 has launched a series of initiatives that make multi-vendor business-to-business trading portals a reality and take the vendor into ebusiness.
i2 announced the launch of tradeMatrix.com, a multi-vendor portal that brings together direct and indirect products and services to customers that want to buy more than one product.
Greg Brady, i2 president, said: "I can now say that I can solve the customer's entire procurement problem. It isn't a single product or market but multiple products and markets brought together in an intelligent manner."
In July i2 announced at its user conference a strategic infrastructure and services relationship with HP. Further relationships include RightWorks for indirect procurement, and Aspect Development for product lifecycle management and in-bound logistics management.
Shak Akhtar, recently appointed as i2's UK manager, said: "When people deploy products like BroadVision and Vignette, they suddenly realise there's a whole load of supply chain things they can't do. We'll take these vendors head on because we're linking back and front office requirements."
As part of the deluge of ebusiness related announcements, HP announced Bell Micro and Avnet as the first users of ebusiness related systems based on i2 demand planning and inventory management products.
But analysts claimed that enterprises are not ready to adopt these advanced, complex systems. John Bermudez, senior vice president at Boston based AMR Research, said that while the vision is compelling, many of AMR's clients have a lot of basic work to do in the planning and scheduling activities before they can take these new approaches on board.
"i2 has to be careful they don't get too far ahead of customers' reality. There's a lot of expectation building that may not be realisable."
Steve Coles, research director at Forrester, warned: "These implementations are exacting in ways we don't all understand today. We're going to have to see proof of implemented scalable success before we can be confident."
Other analysts pointed to problems in getting customers to accept the intellectual and cultural challenges that arise when considering new approaches to streamlining logistics and transportation.
Barry Wilderman, vice president of application delivery strategies at Meta Group, said that despite the enormous economic potential for efficiencies in retail and consumer packaged goods, it isn't enough to use IT as a change enabler.
"The requirement in terms of warehouse management should not be underestimated. Moving from the warehouse on wheels to small box shipments is not trivial," he said.
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