Telstra kick-starts 49,000 strong Net market

Corporate Australia is to feel the heat of 49,000 small businesses getting together online.

The deal is being finalised now and is the first for Telstra's Netrading system.

Netrading was due to launch earlier this year but is now slated for August 24.

Telstra iVelocity general manager Dirk van der Gaag, speaking at an Onyx CRM software symposium last week, said the 49,000 businesses of an undisclosed association have 700,000 employees in total and will form one of the "channels" in the system.

"We are at contractual stages with various associations and affiliations," he said. At this point there has been a pilot involving eight businesses.

Van der Gaag said the system provides for bulk buying power, and delivers a combined CRM system for building a shared customer information database. This will be used, for example, for sales campaigns, contact management and direct marketing.

"These are typically the building blocks that small business doesn't even get," he said. "What enterprise has as an IT infrastructure we bring to the table as a fully hosted option."The system provides Onyx CRM software and services including Telstra BigPond hosting and access, Telstra Merchant Enablement Solutions, Telstra Store Creator, and Telstra Managed Web Community.

When questioned about security and privacy issues, Van der Gaag said security will use Telstra's proven systems. However, there will be significant sharing of information in the internal business-to-business dealings and businesses signing up will have to accept that, he said.

Van der Gaag said payments will be made by both subscription and by "clipping the ticket" on transactions. A single bill will be provided although this is currently being "fudged" from seven separate billing systems.

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