This is the eighth in my nearly finished series of posts on the nine value propositions offered by B2B platforms/multi-sided markets.  This one will be very brief, as most of these platforms are not true networks and therefore hold less interest for me.

Value Proposition #8:  Collaborative Project Management

Collaborative Project Management providers put buyers and suppliers in an industry on the same page in some, or all, of the “design-to-source-to-pay” process. Most of these players focus on the product design and sourcing process and leave purchasing and supply chain execution to others.

Examples:

  • TraceOne which joins retailers and their suppliers in designing in private label consumer products.
  • Textura, Aconex, Skire, and other IWMS providers bring together the architects, GCs, and contractors involved in complex construction projects.
  • Ecosys does the same for large industrial projects in oil and gas.

Strategic Issues Facing Collaborative Project Managers

  1. As mentioned above, collaborative project managers must decide how much of the transactional process to automate beyond the design phase.  Textura automates the entire process, but many providers cover just the design-intensive phase.
  2. These businesses live on lumpy, large projects.  If they are not sufficiently diversified across clients, geographies, and industries, it can be hard for them to build consistent, recurring revenue streams.
  3. Fundamentally, these businesses are platforms, but they may not become networks.  They bring together one buyer or project owner with its supply chain, but not multiple supply chains.  The information contained in the design phase is often so proprietary and so unlikely to be consistent across buyers, that there simply may not be a strong network effect.  If the platform provider brings a unique industry process or best practice to the industry may overcome this issue, but otherwise the collaborative project manager may just be a “souped-up” version of SharePoint.

Sorry, no pithy end comments, I’m moving on to the final Value Proposition #9:  Managed Services!

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