Ariba lands B-to-B deals with Dell and Amex

Ariba on Monday inked alliances with Dell Computer and American Express that include connecting both companies to the Ariba platform.

Under the terms of their agreement, Ariba and American Express will jointly develop and market electronic payment services in a global alliance, Ariba said. Separately, Ariba said it also has signed an agreement to enter into a broad b-to-b (business-to-business) e-commerce alliance with direct PC vendor Dell.

Financial details of the two agreements, which were announced here at Ariba's user conference, were not available.

In addition to using Ariba's platform for its e-procurement solutions, Dell will connect its current b-to-b initiative - the company's 40,000 premier pages -- to the Ariba platform, according to Joe Marengi, senior vice president and general manager of the Dell Relationship Group.

Through its alliance with Ariba, Dell intends to target more small and medium-size businesses, keeping its premier pages targeted at the company's larger corporate clients, Marengi said.

Dell will also offer prebundled and preconfigured Ariba solutions on its PowerEdge Servers, Marengi added.

While Dell brings 40,000 customer into the Ariba network, American Express expects to bring 50,000 suppliers onto Ariba's platform, said Ed Gilligan, president of American Express Corporate Services.

American Express' current B2B Commerce Network, like the Dell premier pages, will be connected to the Ariba platform, thereby creating what Gilligan refers to as "the first market-to-market network."

"We are embedding our payment network into the Ariba network," Gilligan said.

"It's not b-to-b; it's not b-to-c; it's b-to-b through b-to-c," said Jeff Fieler, an analyst at Dresdner Klienwort Benson. "The theory is really sound. It's just a question of actually executing it and implementing it. It's not so much the technology that's important, it's also the strategy around that technology."

Fieler said he sees the interoperability of networks as the wave of the future. Companies need to be able to compete in market-to-market networks to succeed.

"Interoperability of exchanges is a very important aspect. You take the b-to-b Ariba solution and the CommerceOne solution -- that [interoperability] is something they advocate. You take other solutions out there right now, someone like Oracle for example, most of their exchanges are stand-alone -- that's actually a strategic shortcoming for them," Fieler said.

American Express will also offer an interoperable payment engine through the Ariba Network. The pay-on-ship functionality will be available in the next 60-to-90 days, Gilligan said.

Both American Express and Dell have acquired a stake in Ariba. American Express' stake was procured through its prior relationship with Tradex, which was recently acquired by Ariba.

Geneva Sapp is an InfoWorld reporter. Terho Uimonen of the IDG News Service contributed to this article.

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