CWO gets into global e-marketplace business

Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) launched the local arm of its e-marketplace for the enterprise - CWO MarketSite - confident that the venture will drum up $10 billion in new business worldwide.

CWO MarketSite - a business to business (B2B) e-procurement and online auction site - will go live over the next two years across Australia, the UK, the US, Japan and Europe.

CWO Australia general manager of e-business, Noel Hamill, said the Australian site will process around $3 billion worth of B2B transactions a year, with buyer and supplier business coming from a mix of large and small-to-medium companies.

CWO estimates that 5000 business customers worldwide will use the implementation.

"Not just a procurement site" for office, IT and professional services or consumer goods, Hamill said Optus will give customers and suppliers e-procurement capability through free in-house consulting and integration services.

"Suppliers are often SMEs and they're not very e-enabled - some don't even have a computer," he said. "Integration is a real issue with most companies having existing technology like financial systems to integrate, but we allow them to talk to our own e-procurement solution no matter what they're running."

Curtin University and Bank West were the first Australian users of the site for online auctions, through which both organisations cut their negotiations for bulk booking of hotels from three months to a "few days", said Hamill.

While he believes the local e-procurement market is in its infancy, he says it will grow over the next few years.

"There's a big push for companies to be trading online. CWO MarketSite enables them to trade in a B2B environment and opens the doors to global business opportunities," he said.

Hamill said CWO's competitive advantage in the e-procurement space was its focus on value-added service. He also stressed that Cyberlinx and CorProcure had "a completely different model to [CWO] by operating an outsourced procurement model".

He added: "While B2B e-commerce is experiencing a difficult time in Australia, you're in an environment where most of the companies are biting the bullet and getting on with business - so we think we're ahead of the game."

CWO Marketsite will also allow customers to host online auctions without the need to produce upfront capital. CWO will host the auction software and market the auction to potential bidders.

The site will run on a Commerce One marketplace platform.

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