Dynamic Trade Boosts Business

SAN MATEO (06/05/2000) - Large businesses with many supplier and customer relationships can make conducting business on the Web significantly easier. By turning to a model with dynamic pricing capabilities, such as Ariba Inc.

Dynamic Trade, companies can focus the supply and demand of goods and services, increase their global supplier and customer reach, and reduce operational costs.

Dynamic Trade 1.5 provides the tools necessary to buy and sell goods in a digital marketplace. Released earlier this year, Dynamic Trade is a key component of Ariba's Commerce Platform. Ariba is the market leader in business-to-business services and competes closely with Commerce One and Moai for providing services and solutions for procurement and dynamic marketplaces.

Ariba's comprehensive solution supports a wide range of marketplace types, in-depth business and bidding rules, and granular permission settings for creating and conducting dynamic commerce on your Web site. Considering its comprehensiveness, it's obvious why Ariba is the market leader.

Even with a starting price of $100,000 for the installed solution, Dynamic Trade is competitively priced. Ariba will charge a flat fee for the hosted version (that price has not yet been determined) as well as a transaction fee of 1 percent to 3 percent per transaction.

I accessed a preconfigured hosted site; however, this solution can also be installed in-house, which is typically the customer's preference. Dynamic Trade can be made fully customizable via the use of APIs and in conjunction with an Ariba Integration partner.

Dynamic Trade offers four user interfaces: Trader is the interface for participating in a marketplace such as bidding and trading; Designer is for market designers to customize market rules; Operator is for administrators; and Analyst is for reporting on market results.

Creating and designing marketplaces is done via the Designer interface, where I could select from a variety of market types such as auction, reverse auction, and exchanges. Within each of these, I could select and define options, such as single or multiple units for an auction or whether an exchange is periodic or continuous, via Web forms with drop-down menus and radio buttons. Dynamic Trade offers all of the typical auction types, including English, Dutch, Japanese, Sealed Bid, Open RFQ (request for quote), and Clearing Exchange.

This solution's variety of options and settings provides the flexibility necessary to customize trading business goods and services to select individuals, which enables companies to target the demand of their supply groups. For instance, I set specific business rules regarding which suppliers could participate in an auction, and I set discounts for specific groups of customers. If a trader belonged to more than one group, I selected which discount applied to that trader's bid.

I also determined what auction information is released and to whom, such as names of bidders and how much they bid. I defined settings for clearing rules, such as what to do in case of a tie, if bids could be withdrawn or replaced, and who could place proxy bids. These rules and settings can be saved for setting up future markets for your trading community.

The Trader interface was also impressive, with areas for viewing current auctions, messages for upcoming markets, and a favorites tab for tracking particular markets, a feature similar to Moai's and BayBuilder's Hot Lists.

When I accessed markets, I could drill down into information such as bidding history, rules for bidding, and details describing the item or service. These details not only gave me a wealth of information on the item but also enlightened me about how to place bids.

As an administrator, I accessed the Operator interface to manage users and groups, set up categories, and view the status of auctions. For setting up initial users (suppliers and traders) and categories of products, the administrator uses the import feature, which pulls existing data from XML files, making loading data faster. Dynamic Trade gives administrators the capability of setting granular permissions on groups, such as which interface users have access to and which views they will see when they log in.

This solution also gives administrators an overall view of information in the digital marketplace. For instance, I drilled down into an auction and viewed bids and trades that took place as well as read comments that were added to a bid. The administrator also has access to records useful for tracking an auction, such as audit logs to see who has been on the site.

Unfortunately, the Analyst interface for viewing reports about historical trends was not available for my review. Such reports are useful in tracking markets and analyzing demands for future markets.

Throughout the solution, I had access to extensive online help akin to online documentation. In some instances, tutorials were available, such as when using the Designer to create markets. Ariba also offers training and professional services.

Corporations that are trading complex products or professional services should investigate starting an online marketplace. Ariba's Dynamic Trade is a comprehensive solution for creating and maintaining your trading community and is well worth considering. In addition, companies that choose Dynamic Trade will have access to the Ariba buyer and supplier base to further their global reach. This customizable solution will help strengthen your company's trading community with its impressive interface and complex market options.

Senior Analyst Lori Mitchell (lori_mitchell@infoworld.com) covers Internet-based collaboration and auction tools.

THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD

Dynamic Trade 1.5

Business Case: This comprehensive trading solution offers great flexibility for creating and managing a digital marketplace. Corporations can heighten their global communities and increase revenue by selling more via negotiated pricing.

Technology Case: Dynamic Trade can be installed in-house or hosted by Ariba for organizations with limited internal IT support. Web designers can work with Ariba to customize their companies' marketplaces by using APIs.

Pros:

+ Very comprehensive

+ Supports wide range of marketplace types+ Clean interface+ Detailed, granular security permissions for groups+ Complex auction settings+ Great online help, including tutorialsCons:

- Wireless support available only with programming- Analyst interface not available for testingCost: Installed: starts at $100,000; hosted: flat fee (not determined) plus transaction feesPlatform(s): Installed: Microsoft Windows NT, Sun SolarisAriba Inc. Mountain View, California; (888) 487-2339; www.ariba.com.

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