eBay Information on Demand

I’ve written before about the increasing importance of external data and benchmarking for the future of business intelligence. Business Objects today announced the launch of their information on demand store:

information-on-demand-istore

With an easy-on-the-eyes flex-based interface, the store is designed to sell information on line that can be used to supplement internal data. Along with the Thomson Financial and Dun & Bradstreet sources already announced, the store features information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and… the eBay marketplace.

Courtesy of Advanced Economic Research Systems, inc., the eBay information is “accurate, up-to-date information based on over 6 billion consumer purchasing decisions from the over 240 million consumers that buy and sell on eBay’s global platform.” Models available in the new store include a Crystal Xcelsius model for state-to-state comparison of MP3 players by brand and a top 10 product comparison using Crystal Reports.

The rise of MP3 players is perhaps an apt analogy for the information on demand market. MP3 players had existed for quite a while before Apple came along with the easy-to-use iPod and unleashed the “everyday consumer” market. It achieved this by centralizing music from several different publishers and introducing revolutionary ease of use. And Apple managed it despite more obvious candidates, such as Walkman-pioneer Sony, because of misaligned incentives (Sony’s music division saw MP3 players as a threat, not an opportunity).

Information on demand is a market whose time has come. Commercial information has been around a long time, but until now hasn’t taken advantage of modern business intelligent infrastructures to make it easy for organizations to consume that information.

By providing an easy-to-use platform that centralizes information from different publishers, Business Objects is hoping to become the Apple iStore of information. With a large existing customer base, some level of success seems assured, but the real questions are how much new business can be generated, and how much of a head start Business Objects will be allowed before more competitors flood into the market.

The business market is never going to react as fast as consumer markets, but information on demand seems poised for explosive success if the right ingredients come together…

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