The idea of online marketplaces is not new, especially on the consumer front, yet in the enterprise IT world, they have developed with fits and starts. But growing frustration with outdated sales processes (and channels) and shifting buyer preferences are creating a perfect storm for B2B marketplaces to come into their own and disrupt large chunks of tech buying and selling — and even influence B2C models in the process. Now, if you lived through the rise and fall of exchanges in the late ’90s and early 2000s as I did in my early analyst and consulting days, you may roll your eyes at the thought. But this time around, new categories of marketplaces from leading software, infrastructure, and other vertical goods providers (plus expectations of a new generation of buyers) will make the model stick around.

Early signs of this are in the SaaS space, where Liz Herbert has studied the rise of SaaS marketplaces for add-on apps and services. Clients can check out our Forrester New Wave™ for this space here.

More broadly, third-party options for sellers are maturing quickly to support more enterprise use cases, making today’s B2B marketplaces more of a one-stop shop for research, contracting, purchasing, and even interacting with peers. Not all products will be bought and sold this way, but many will.

The new research that Liz and I have been conducting (with help from our friends on the CIO and B2B marketing teams) looks at key adoption factors — including persona, company culture, and type of purchase — that will inform if your buyers are ready (en masse) to make the leap to marketplace-based buying. And I have been digging into some of the key CPG-style skills and strategies that providers will need to master in order to own the digital shelf.

Be sure to look out for our first two reports, one on buy-side disruption and one on the sell side, this fall. Check out a sneak peek below for some of the insights from our research. Once the first reports are live, we’ll post highlights here.

In the meantime, set up an inquiry with me or Liz to hear more about this research stream and what we have planned for later this year on the SaaS and digital commerce fronts!