Ebusiness goes private

IBM has announced a suite of business-to-business services for building private e-market places.

With emphasis on cutting costs by increasing efficiency in transactions between trading partners, rather than being a forum where suppliers can be screwed down on price (as is allegedly the case with public trading exchanges), IBM executives described private e-trading exchanges as cost-effective, open-standards versions of EDI.

Speaking at IBM Insights: e-Business Volume 2 in Kuala Lumpur, Kimberly Stevenson, vice president, iSeries marketing for IBM, cited the example in the US where suppliers to the "big three" of the vehicle industry formed their own private trading exchange. They reacted to the '500-pound gorilla' Covisint public trading exchange, she said, when "Suppliers to the [US] auto industry told participants in Covisint that they had to deliver five per cent price reduction per year.

"Setting up their own private trading exchange gives them a means to fight by addressing their own costs." She added that private trading exchanges could also give the vehicle industry suppliers the leverage they need to offer more, highly value-added items, listing the example of selling a complete "exhaust system - rather than just a tail pipe".

IBM is addressing this B2B space with newly announced service offerings and is positioning its iSeries servers (formerly AS/400) as useful platforms on which to run "pre-integrated" e-business solutions.

These offerings include Connect for iSeries, which includes 'connectors' for Ariba. This solution is based on IBM's MQSeries messaging software and would run along side the WebSphere middleware .

Service offerings include the IBM Global Services Participant Enablement Portfolio. These 'E-market Enablement' services include Readiness Assessment, Connect , Integrate (of enterprise systems into an e-market place), and Collaborate for extending existing systems and processes into multiple trading partners through an e-marketplace.

"What customers are looking for are ways to drastically cut time and money out of their supply chains," said Randy Walker , general manager, business innovation services, IBM Global Services Asia Pacific.

He added that the modular Enablement suite will offer industry-specific templates that need minimum customisation.

* David Beynon travelled to the IBM Insights conference in Malaysia as a guest of IBM