So how do businesses get the best from them? How do they ensure information and support is available to those who require it? Private exchanges should focus on the one-to-one relationship.
Private exchanges should be thought of as a series of mini-exchanges, reflecting the needs involved. Many firms are launching their own exchanges or joining e-marketplaces that limit participants to a select few.
It is easier to persuade people to do business online with a group of established partners than with new, unfamiliar ones. Restricted access gives peace of mind and security. But access and site security has to be carefully managed, or you risk choking the exchange.
This is where the $64,000 question comes in - who owns each exchange?
Business managers, not IT staff, must manage the content, targeting and security of exchanges. After all, if a business manager has to queue for IT assistance every time a change is needed, the patience of colleagues will soon be exhausted.
The exchange's software must allow use by non-technical people, including trusted partners and customers. This way, managers control exactly who has access.
The power to manage exchanges must rest with those who have a grasp of immediate business needs. Only when the manager is in charge can he conduct effective, customer-focused business. Let them decide what is relevant to partners and control that information flow and give your exchange the best chance of growth.
Gregory Darmohray is director of Europe for Webridge