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B2B and the Importance of Speed








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Today on the Net, B2B has all the momentum. You can catch the wave if you select the right niche, then move at "Internet Speed".

Business on the web is constantly evolving at warp speed, which has come to be known as "Internet Time", ultra compressed, where business cycles pass you by in a flash. Yesterday it was etail, today it's B2B ( business to business). Yesterday it was portal, today it's vortel ( vertical portals). Speed to market has become ever more critical, as the first company in a particular space wins all the chips ( think Amazon), the second gets the spill over ( think Barnes and Noble). Those that pile on afterwards get gobbled up or "disappeared", the soon-to-be fate of the 4th through the 18th pet supply company.

So, if you're thinking of launching your business on the Net, or repositioning it to a B2B company, while this tidal wave of momentum is on your side,how to move fast AND smart is the question . The right answer could make you one of the new Net millionaires - increasingly common - and, perhaps not so common, a self fulfilled business person, using technology to magnify your efforts, with the potential to take a few months of incredibly long hours and hard thinking into a life time of leisure and self-actualization.

B2B is what's hot on the Net, and if you can get in it, you probably should.

The Gartner group expects B2B to reach $7.29 trillion worldwide by 2004. E-commerce spending by small businesses is projected to reach $3,750 per business by 2001. That's plenty of pie to go around, if you start now, and ramp up fast.

Three key areas of sizzling B2B are the following:

Procurement sites, where products and services are put out for bids, and purchase order transactions are completed instantly.

Marketplaces , where buyers and sellers are matched up by industry, or affinity.

Vertical portals which give you news, content, community and a buying and selling platform for a particular industry or affinity group

Some of these sites are more suited for The Big Boys. When General Motors wants to buy tires, for example, Ted's Auto Shack in Des Moines, is not going to have a prayer. Orders can be so large that products become commoditized.

For many products or services, however , this is not the case. The key is to carve out a special niche or an outstanding value proposition for your service. For smaller companies, speed is one such value.

If your sales team is scattered across 3 states waiting for 500 brochures, which have been lost over South Dakota, you have a problem which can be solved over a B2B platform . You can, for example, look up hypothetical "Quality Net Publishing", and send them the document in electronic form. The publisher will then format your brochure into Adobe PDF, email the document with printing instructions to a Kinko's Copy Center near each salesmen, then, using, guide them to the Kinko's by cell phone. This is a valuable service , and a $15,000 transaction, accomplished in a few hours time, all electronically, by someone you've never met, who can be virtually anywhere in the world, if he has a mastery of your language.

With some testing and tweaking, you may have a product or service with a unique value proposition which will put your company in play in the B2B market.

Marketplaces and vortels will continue to come on line and one of them will be the best niche for your company. Speed matters, so be ready to execute. And be ready to constantly review your strategy, as the Net continues to evolve. Today its B2B. Tomorrow, who knows? If you decide to ride today's tiger , keep your eye on the horizon for the next New Thing, ready to reposition yourself on a moment's notice. Speed and smart strategy are keys to the Net.

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