Predictions

By Sari Kalin, CIO |  Business

CIOS WHO CAN'T GET their companies' business-to-business web efforts off the ground may soon find themselves calling on the local landlords. And, it won't be because they've lost their jobs and need to find cheaper digs. They'll be calling on "e-business landlords," a new category of e-business service provider that The Yankee Group predicts will develop over the next two years. Landlords, or hub service providers (HSPs), would offer both the technology and business services needed to make business-to-business sites work, says Lisa Williams, program manager of business-to-business e-commerce at The Yankee Group in Boston. "A landlord makes partnerships that benefit all the tenants," Williams says. "Some of these will be software partnerships; some will be nontechnological partnerships."

On the technology side, landlords would likely provide tenants with network infrastructure, data storage, e-commerce software and systems integration. They may partner with other providers to offer these services, and their size will let them strike favorable deals. Customers would reap the benefit of having all these services in one place. On the business side, landlords would likely offer financial and logistics services; they may even help arrange joint ventures among their tenants. Tenants could include traditional companies, large and small, as well as e-marketplace startups and other dotcoms.

Look for landlords to come from the ranks of procurement software vendors and infrastructure providers; big companies that have a lot of purchasing power and a well-known brand name may also get into the act. Within the next 18 to 24 months, large hub providers may emerge, most likely from well-known names in the technology industry. Given the soup-to-nuts scope of their offerings, the market probably does not have room for more than a half-dozen or so of these big players.

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