Ariba Adds Logistics Capabilities

BOSTON (05/23/2000) - Ariba Inc. today announced it will add integrated logistics capabilities to its business-to-business e-commerce software through a strategic alliance with Descartes Systems Group Inc., a Canadian logistics network in Waterloo, Ontario.

The two companies expect to integrate their software and systems by the end of next month, giving Ariba users a single electronic interface to thousands of transportation companies and third-party logistics providers.

Analysts said Ariba users will benefit under the alliance, which significantly streamlines the process of comparing carriers and costs, and of tracking a shipment across the supply chain.

Purchasing managers buying at an Internet marketplace powered by Ariba software will be able to compare pricing and select from any of Descartes' 1,000-plus providers - or plug in their own discount arrangements with a contract shipper - to purchase transportation services at the same time they buy raw materials and other goods online.

Ariba said users also will be able to track their shipment's progress from the supplier to their own receiving dock.

Descartes now links more than 1,000 logistics and transportation companies in 35 vertical industries in 50 countries.

"What it brings to users is more connections to carriers," said John Fontanella, an analyst at AMR Research Corp. in Boston. "Ariba customers don't have to construct one-to-one interfaces" with multiple third-party logistics management companies and shippers, he said.

There are other integration headaches, however, according to John Sprouse, an Ariba user and CIO at Chicago-based Prime Advantage Corp., an Internet marketplace that aggregates orders for industrial manufacturing companies.

"Integrated logistics is, in general, extremely important, Sprouse said. "But the continuing challenge is how to make that integrated logistics solution work with buyers' and sellers' own internal business systems. There's no doubt that people are looking for integration of logistics information at a business-to-business marketplace, but getting that information back into their own enterprise systems is a whole different story," he said.

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