Telstra and CW Optus ramp up e-comm race

The squabble is on, buyers and suppliers beware. Telstra and Cable & Wireless Optus are going head to head again, this time in the e-procurement space.

Aiming to get their share of the billion-dollar e-commerce market, both carriers yesterday announced e-commerce business to business strategies stemming from US partnerships.

David Stokes-McKeon, Telstra's Convergent Business Next managing director, announced the Telstra eCommerce Procurement Solution only hours before Chris Anderson, C&W Optus CEO, outlined C&W Optus' e-commerce strategy with US-based Commerce One.

Stokes-McKeon said Telstra's procurement solution, available now, creates an online transaction environment for businesses and suppliers. Using procurement application technology provided by Telstra partner Intelisys and Telstra's Open Commerce Platform (OCP), buyers are able to "inter-network" with suppliers to purchase equipment and nonproduction goods and services.

The OCP provides an open architecture for buyers and suppliers to interface with. According to Stokes-McKeon, the platform provides e-commerce components including security, financial transaction settlement and message translation as well as the ability to interface with many existing enterprise applications.

Also launched in the US yesterday, Stokes-McKeon said Telstra expects more US customers to adopt the solution initially, but insists there will be "rapid take-up" in Australia.

Stokes said however, the US business is expected to generate the majority of the e-commerce business in the next two to three years.

Telstra, Texas Instruments in the US and Ford Motor Company in Australia and the US have been trialing the solution.

Telstra also announced a number of partners, including IBM, Motorola Ericsson, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers who will provide systems integration and web development services to customers domestically and internationally.

Meanwhile, C&W Optus announced a strategic alliance with e-commerce specialist, Commerce One, which will provide a business to business electronic marketplace for Australia businesses.

Under the agreement with Commerce One, C&W Optus joins a global trading Web alliance called the Global Trading Web Council, which includes global telcos including British Telecom, NTT and SingTel.

Using Commerce One technology, C&W Optus will build an Australia portal, called CWO MarketSite to link buyers and suppliers, Anderson said. The portal will be commercially launched in March 2000.

C&W Optus will also provide buyer sites, called BuySite or bureaux of small to medium business to access.

John Filmer, C&W Optus director of enterprise, said the portals will provide open architecture and end to end procurement solutions to customers as well as complementary C&W Optus offerings such as a payment gateway and IP network.

Despite planning to launch CWO MarketSite commercially in March 2000, six months after Telstra, Filmer said he is not concerned C&W Optus will be playing catch up with Telstra.

"We're on the pace . . . we have a rich offering which is differentiated. It's making an apples and oranges comparison," Filmer said.

"Our concept is absolutely global - a homogenous collection of buyers and sellers. We're not talking about an EDI-type model . . . this is a new and completely open concept where you have buyers and sellers working together."

Filmer said C&W Optus will begin developing the portal and marketing the concept to suppliers and businesses.

CWO MarketSite will be a purely Australian portal and C&W Optus will expand internationally through using other Cable & Wireless companies and members of the Global Trading Web Alliance, he said.

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