Consolidation Continues Apace

Agile gets data exchange technology, RiverOne adds supply chain planning, Ariba expands European sourcing capabilities

Tempe, AZ  January 29, 2003  Consolidation continued apace in the supply chain space this week as Agile Software got itself new data exchange technology with the acquisition of oneREV, RiverOne added supply chain planning functionality with its purchase of Softchain, and Ariba expanded its European sourcing capabilities with the addition of German purchasing consultancy Goodex.

San Jose, Calif.-based Agile offers product lifecycle management solutions, while fellow Californian oneRev, founded in 2000, focused on solutions to accelerate electronic product introduction. oneRev's backers included Silicon Valley venture firm Mohr, Davidow, which also invested in Agile.

Agile said this week that the oneREV acquisition, completed at the end of last year but announced only on Tuesday, would add important enabling technology that will benefit Agile's customers by speeding the exchange of information between Agile's systems and such external information sources as supply chain partners, customers' internally maintained information warehouses or external supplier catalogs.

In Agile's view, the increasing pace of product innovation, combined with a move toward outsourced manufacturing, has meant that manufacturing companies have become increasingly involved in complex product networks to meet changing market demands. This expanding supplier network depends on a constant flow of product information, with information communicated in dozens  even hundreds  of data formats and reflecting a variety of information systems and component naming conventions.

"The constant translation of product information, as it passes from one format or one parts nomenclature to another and back again, is time consuming and error prone, and presents product companies and their supplier networks with enormous risk for increased product delay and cost, diminished product margins and decreased customer retention as product innovation is slowed," said Kevin O'Marah, vice president of product lifecycle management research at technology consultancy AMR Research. "OneREV's technology is meant to address the tricky and critical problem of mapping semantics across different systems. This technology should further streamline inbound communication of product definition data packets to EMS [electronic manufacturing services] organizations."

Nageen Sharma, CEO of oneREV, said, "This move will provide product companies with the speed and accuracy they seek as they look to bring better, more profitable products to market, and position them to better leverage the rich product information currently available from their supply chain partners and in the market place."

Financial details of this acquisition were not released.

Meanwhile, RiverOne, the result of the November 2001 merger between software companies Need2Buy and Efinity, this week reported that it had acquired Softchain.

Westlake Village, Calif.-based RiverOne offers software and services for manufacturers to control supply chain operations, while Softchain provided collaborative supply chain planning software designed to control the flow of materials across extended manufacturing supply chains. RiverOne said the acquisition would extend its "supply chain control system" offering, consisting of integrated connectivity, planning, execution and exception management capabilities.

The Softchain supply chain planning products enable customers to aggregate and communicate demand signals to all supply chain partners, analyze the impact of constantly changing demand and supply conditions and continually synchronize material flow to balanced demand. Existing customers report faster response to market demand, reduced inventory costs and improved supplier performance, according to Softchain.

RiverOne, which just last week released the latest version of its INTERACTIVE supply chain solution, said it will integrate Softchain's planning products with its own transaction execution products, collaborative backbone and XML connectivity capabilities required to connect and interact with all trading partners in a supply chain. RiverOne asserts that the combined solutions will give its customers and their users greater access, visibility and control over all areas of their supply chain, including a set of financial and operational performance metrics.

"The addition of supply chain planning enables RiverOne to deliver the industry's first complete supply chain control system for supply chain operations," said Maury Friedman, president and CEO of RiverOne.

Joshua Clark, former president of Softchain, has been named vice president of products for RiverOne. No financial details of the acquisition were released.

Finally, AMR Research Senior Research Analyst Beth Barling reported this week on Ariba's acquisition of Goodex AG, a German-based purchasing consultancy, for an undisclosed sum.

"The acquisition adds a sourcing services component to Ariba's portfolio of spend management applications, with the aim not to provide fully outsourced services, but instead to help customers become self-sufficient in their use of e-sourcing technology through the transfer of skills in-house," Barling wrote in an AMR research alert on Tuesday.

Barling notes that while Ariba previously has offered e-procurement services, the Goodex acquisition provides a foundation for a European sourcing practice. The purchase also gives Ariba offices in several European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, which should help the provider compete against FreeMarkets and SAP.

These latest acquisitions follow on the heels of other buyouts in the supply chain space over the past two months. In early December, Epicor Software completed its acquisition of Clarus, a provider of B2B e-commerce software, in a deal that Epicor said would extend its enterprise solutions by providing customers with an advanced set of supplier relationship management (SRM) solutions covering Web-based procurement, sourcing, online invoicing and payment.

Earlier this month iSource Business reported that supply chain execution specialist Manhattan Associates had acquired Logistics.com from Internet Capital Group for about $20 million. Logistics.com offered logistics planning and execution solutions for shippers and carriers, and Manhattan said that the companies' combined offering would help bridge the gap between transportation planning and execution.

And just this week, demand chain software company Comergent Technologies announced that it had acquired Enduse, a provider of sell-side pricing optimization applications in a deal that Comergent said would help its customers to more effectively, and profitably, liquidate their inventory, and help them to respond more accurately to requests for quotes while maximizing sales margins.

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