E-Commerce: B2B Survivors

A few smart firms are transforming themselves into brokers, auctioneers and software designers

Imagine you have been dating someone for years. The relationship is blossoming, but one day your sweetheart informs you that instead of calling, you should communicate by e-mail. And if you want to get together, you should arrange that through an online dating service, where you will be competing with other suitors. That, in essence, is the message that suppliers of everything from paper clips to maintenance services got a couple of years ago from manufacturers eager to try business-to-business, or B2B, exchanges on the Internet. The suppliers' partners were suddenly asking them to sign up for anonymous public online exchanges...

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