Successful e-business partnering between CSC, M2M and OZ eCorp will speed the adoption of online communities in Australia, according to an Internet analyst.
Brooke Galloway, senior analyst, Internet and e-commerce at IDC, said the online communities will be a positive step for Australian vertical markets, as "although there are many benefits of e-business, to date actual adoption in Australia has been low".
However, Galloway warned the alliance's e-business initiative will only be successful if the three partners are committed, saying "partnerships are different on paper to working partnerships".
Using CSC's architectural framework as a backbone, the alliance will leverage OZeCorp's expertise in operating online communities, and the software solutions and supply chain expertise of the M2M group, to target businesses within vertical markets. This will enable users within those markets to access online business-to-business trading communities.
The first of 20 such online communities to be rolled out over 2000 will cover the building and retail sectors.
"We will also announce a peak industry body signing with the alliance [this month]," said Russell Hatton, Net Market program manager at CSC.
Galloway said these many-to-many trading communities will reduce barriers to entry for smaller companies, "giving them aggregate buying power".
However, suppliers may be harder to catch, following the experience of a similar Australian e-business initiative in the pharmaceutical industry, which faltered when suppliers were lukewarm.
Sterling Commerce's Pharmaceutical Extranet Gateway (PEG) faced a tough beginning last year, when Sterling's regional director for Australia and New Zealand, Brian O'Doherty, said he believed it could take as long as three to four years to win over the 600 to 700 companies which make up the supplier community (CW, May 21, 1999, p6).
However, Galloway predicted this model would take off "by the end of the year".
"If enough buyers can put pressure on suppliers, they won't have a choice but to trade electronically," she said.
Hatton declined to estimate the investment the three companies were making, but it is understood venture capital as well as sponsorships from key industry bodies and financial institutions are providing backing.