The Changing Role of Middle-Men Infomediaries

The Changing Role of Middle-Men Infomediaries

Mirella Lahteenmaki (Helsinki School of Economics, Finland) and Markku Tinnila (Helsinki School of Economics, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-629-7.ch018


Intermediaries and especially information-intensive infomediaries have been hailed as winners of the new electronic economy. The need for infomediaries arises from the reorganization of several markets as a result of the Internet. The main claim of emerging e-business companies during the hype at the turn of the millennium was shortening of the value chains. This meant bypassing middle-men with a direct contact to end-customers, in many cases, consumers. However, the millions of Web sites failed to attract customers, simply because they could not be found among all the others. The solution to this problem was the reintroduction of middle-men actors; in this case, a new type of player, the infomediary, focusing on gathering, organizing, and utilizing essential customer information. The infomediary maximizes the value of information by helping clients to locate relevant products and services based on their individual needs and wants or on their personal profiles. In this chapter, we intend to provide a typology of infomediaries, their roles, and value creation models, and demonstrate infomediary evolution by analyzing exemplary cases.

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