It is never a waste of time keeping a close eye on Globalspec. The engineering design community has been for a number of years the poster site for B2B community. Under Jeff Killeen’s outstanding management, and with an understanding investor in Warburg Pincus, which now holds a very considerable asset, the service has shaken the engineering information sector from end to end with a demonstration of what the power of user-contributed content really means – and what it can accomplish if users become wedded to sharing it.

Even so, some may have glanced with surprise at last week’s announcement of workflow tools on the site.  After all, supply chain management, parts catalogues and project management tools were early plays in the late nineties as Reed Business Information and others sought to drive into supply chain management issues as a natural follow through to their own web content. Right idea, wrong time.  We may have spent a decade now demonstrating exactly how much first rate content you need, and how much third party content as well, in order to carry this off.  Most of those services died on the vine: who now remembers VerticalNet?  But Globalspec did not come from proprietory content, but from community content.  Its users came to contribute and utilize, thus building their own directories (Globalspec has 148,000, but users can import their own) and their own parts reference space, cross-referenced to the use of those parts in other designs, which are both natural extensions of why those users are in Globalspec to begin with.  Adding project planning tools on top of that  is a no brainer.

So the lessons are simple: workflow moving towards supply chain management is possible if you have a compelling content place for users and a natural, neutral meeting ground for a community.  There were no short cuts.  Timing depends on brand credibility, traffic volume and community recognition.  You have to be permitted by the community to act for them.

Have Globalspec got this precious timing right?  With the ink not dry on the press release, it is hard to tell.  However, as in other verticals, players will find that users are tending to polarize on one or two services.  These duopolies make it tough to be an outside competitor.  In engineering it may come down to Globalspec, IHS and McGraw-Hill.  Someone has to be a loser.


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2 Comments so far

  1. David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information … Search Engine on November 24, 2009 13:59

    […] here: David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information … By admin | category: GlobalSpec | tags: close-eye, design-community, GlobalSpec, killeen, […]

  2. prekrati on December 10, 2009 01:49

    Dear Author http://www.davidworlock.com !
    It is remarkable, very valuable message