Industry Insights

Five Reasons Why Analyst Firms Are Increasing Research on B2B Marketplaces and Ecosystems

By Ideas @ AppDirect / Aug 19, 2021

5 reasons analysts

In the technology industry, world-changing innovations seem to happen almost like clockwork. Every year, we can count on new solutions that can help us do more, faster, and more effectively. In 2021, spurred by the pandemic and steady increases in digital maturity, we're seeing an example of just that—a surge of interest in technology that is changing the way the world does business: business-to-business (B2B) marketplaces and ecosystems.

There are many ways to measure this surge, and one of them is interest from leading analyst firms. At AppDirect, we've been at the forefront of subscription commerce, and building a platform that makes it easy for businesses to create B2B marketplaces and ecosystems, for more than a decade. This year, however, we've seen a sharp uptick in the number of analyst reports focusing on this technology. In fact, we’ve counted 16 analyst reports and blogs covering these topics and including AppDirect in the first half of 2021, compared to just five mentions in the same period in 2020.

Why the dramatic increase in interest?

Industry analyst firms advise their end-user clients who are seeking help as they navigate digital transformation. The start of global pandemic meant that companies had to transform, do it quickly, and continue to scale and optimize as they went along. As a result, analysts have never been busier, and they have turned their focus to subscription commerce, and the B2B marketplaces and ecosystems that drive it, as solutions that can have a big impact on their clients' success.

Let's take a closer look at five reasons why analysts are taking notice:

1. The pandemic accelerated everything digital. Five-year plans became “let’s-do-it-now” plans as companies reimagined themselves, their offerings, and their go-to-market motions as the world paused. As the CEO of Microsoft Sweden, Hélène Barnekow, recently explained, "We... made an estimate that due to COVID-19 we had about two years' worth of digitalization done in two months. That's how much it accelerated.” She continued: The lesson learned is you work in this space but the saying of never waste a crisis is a good one. We need to have a sense of urgency in how we adopt technology." (You can hear more of Barnekow’s thoughts on rapid digital transformation on AppDirect’s podcast, Decoding Digital.)

    2. “Everything as a service” continues to grow. Today’s businesses need subscription go-to-market strategies, and they need platforms that can handle not just recurring billing, but also multi-sided business models, including first- and third-party sellers and ecosystem participants such as advisors, agents, resellers, and more. This increase reflects the pandemic imperative to reinvent business.

      3. The distribution channel is changing, fast. Distributors have had to reinvent themselves and are launching marketplaces that enable seamless bundles of software subscriptions alongside one-time physical goods sales. As more and more companies go directly to the buyer, thanks to digitization, distributors that do not change are destined to become extinct. Customer data has become gold to B2B manufacturers, helping them understand how buyers are using their products and services, in order to design and launch new types of services and products.

      4. Speed and agility are now must-haves. Interoperability, packaged business capabilities, citizen developers—all are converging to allow companies to build the unique, optimal tech stack that enables their digital business. Technology that helps companies connect all of these disparate pieces together, like AppDirect, is increasingly necessary. Businesses that can accelerate quickly—from a referral marketplace to transacting ecosystems, for example—will have the advantage as the flywheel effect of additional revenue from third-party providers kicks in. As analysts have come to understand, subscription commerce is complex, and there are a range of other capabilities that are critical. From developer onboarding, to sales enablement, to reconciliation, real-time provisioning, and support for end users—all of it has to be fast and flexible.

        5. It’s all about the customer experience. It’s important to remember that B2B buyers are consumers too. Today’s businesses are used to an Amazon-like experience where it’s easy to buy with one click, and the product arrives quickly and with no hassle. B2B buyers want the same ease of purchasing and managing their technology from a single source. Marketplaces and ecosystems are key in creating a seamless, customer-focused experience that makes it easy for businesses to find the technology they need to thrive.


          As businesses are reinvented, industry analysts guide them and technology providers innovate to enable new ways of doing business in a rapidly changing world. To read more about what analysts are saying about AppDirect and our game-changing technology, visit our Analyst Coverage web page.