E-hubs: the new B2B (business-to-business) marketplaces.

S. Kaplan*, M. Sawhney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

479 Scopus citations


Electronic hubs--Internet-based intermediaries that host electronic marketplaces and mediate transactions among businesses--are generating a lot of interest. Companies like Ariba, Chemdex, and Commerce One have already attained breathtaking stock market capitalizations. Venture capitalists are pouring money into more business-to-business start-ups. Even industrial stalwarts like GM and Ford are making plans to set up their own Web markets. As new entrants with new business models pour into the business-to-business space, it's increasingly difficult to make sense of the landscape. This article provides a blueprint of the e-hub arena. The authors start by looking at the two dimensions of purchasing: what businesses buy--manufacturing inputs or operating inputs--and how they buy--through systematic sourcing or spot sourcing. They classify B2B e-hubs into four categories: MRO hubs, yield managers, exchanges, and catalog hubs, and they discuss each type in detail. Drilling deeper into this B2B matrix, the authors look at how e-hubs create value--through aggregation and matching--and explain when each mechanism works best. They also examine the biases of e-hubs. Although many e-hubs are neutral--they're operated by independent third parties--some favor the buyers or sellers. The authors explain the differences and discuss the pros and cons of each position. The B2B marketplace is changing rapidly. This framework helps buyers, sellers, and market makers navigate the landscape by explaining what the different hubs do and how they add the most value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-103, 214
JournalHarvard Business Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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