Manufacturing Exchanges: IndustryWeek takes a wide-screen view of online marketplaces.

Dec. 21, 2004

The evolution of online manufacturing exchanges has unfolded suspiciously like a famous spaghetti western. Although lacking tumbleweeds and a haunting Ennio Morricone soundtrack, there is ample evidence of: The Good -- cost-cutting capabilities that hundreds of exchanges bring to buyers of products and services and the role exchanges play as intersections of surplus inventories with unforeseen product demands. The Bad -- supplier commoditization, erosion of long-established partner relationships, and generally unmet manufacturer expectations. The Ugly -- a frenetic Internet market in which exchanges daily fold, merge, and seek to outmuscle and outmaneuver one another. Meanwhile, disbelieving manufacturers look on, fearing they may have backed, or backed into, the wrong marketplace and fallen behind in the new economy. Will a gunslinger in gaucho hat and woolen poncho resolve this saga? Unlikely. Will an industrywide vigil for collaborative exchange platforms be answered? Will they bring true backend-to-backend system integration to exchange users and, with it, lasting productivity improvements? In this special E-Business section IndustryWeek editors and industry experts attempt to answer those questions by examining manufacturing-exchange problems and analyzing future e-marketplace scenarios. The package includes:

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