Today, US providers like Scient and Razorfish can pick and choose the projects they accept. They work with prominent or innovative companies and select implementations that keep their highly-marketable specialists committed.
Europe is set to mimic this pattern. I expect a major acceleration of e-commerce uptake by businesses in 2000. Many are progressing initiatives like mobile commerce projects, supply chain management and electronic procurement.
Suppliers will have potential customers flooding their sites and switchboards. Like their US cousins, Web specialists will choose the opportunities that add lustre to their PR efforts and enthuse their own staff.
What should users do to ensure the support they need? I believe they have three options. First, look for opportunities to create industry-changing projects. If users can create the first vertical sector online trading site for an industry, as Ford and General Motors are vying to do in the US, then that will get the integrators' attention. A creative use of technology, like the reverse auctions being offered by Commerce One's Market Site operations, also impresses.
Secondly, users should map out a priority list for e-commerce activities, with time lines for completion. An integrator that sees the opportunity for longer-term revenue streams will move a company up its prospect list.
Third, offer profit sharing. Plenty of implementation partners are willing to talk terms if the user gives them strong financial incentives for the ongoing success of e-commerce systems.
In the long term, companies like Andersen Consulting and Cap Gemini will grab the baton on e-commerce, and Europe's buyer/seller imbalance will fade. For 2000 and 2001, though, I believe that user companies need to woo their implementation partners carefully to keep on track.
Andrew Parker is an analyst at Forrester Research