Commerce One Goes Collaborative

New e-procurement platform offers tools to encourage supplier adoption

Pleasanton, CA  June 25, 2001  Commerce One last week tackled two barriers to the broader adoption of e-procurement, announcing Collaborative Procurement, a platform that the software provider says will allow buyers and sellers to conduct a greater portion of their transactions and communications online.

Commerce One is touting the platform's features for communications between buyers and sellers, which the company says will allow for more transactions to be completed entirely online, as well as a new tool to encourage supplier adoption.

"The first generation of e-procurement solutions established online transactions between buyers and suppliers," said Mike Micucci, vice president of solution strategy for Commerce One. "However, order changes, for example, often required a phone call, which moved transactions offline and diminished return on investment."

The new platform allows for back-and-forth communications between buyers and sellers and provides support for such requirements as interactive order changes. In announcing the platform, Commerce One cites a study by R. B. Webber and Co. showing that Collaborative Procurement potentially could save buyers an additional 46 percent in process costs compared with traditional e-procurement solutions.

With this release, the solution provider also tacitly acknowledged one of B2B's greatest challenges to date: getting suppliers to sign onto e-procurement systems. "No one is adopting suppliers at the rate that we would all like, and we looked at what we could do to make that as easy and painless as possible," said Scott Wilkerson, manager for solution strategy at Commerce One.

In answer to this challenge, Collaborative Procurement includes a feature that allows an enterprise to create a supplier portal. The portal lets suppliers to respond to RFQs and order changes and to provide real-time shipping and invoice details directly to the buyer.

Commerce One says that the supplier portal should lower the cost for a supplier to start transacting business online with a customer, a key element in getting more suppliers to getting onboard an enterprise's e-procurement initiative. "You have to make this a great value proposition to the supplier," said Wilkerson.

In addition to the supplier portal, buyers have access to more than 150,000 suppliers through Global Trading Web, Commerce One's online trading community.

Wilkerson said the e-procurement platform provides an "upgrade path" for companies using it, allowing them to add procurement and supply functionality from Commerce One software or from software developed jointly by SAP and Commerce One.

Other features in Collaborative Procurement include contractor management, allowing enterprises to monitor and control contractor spend; dynamic bidding, providing an integrated reverse auction/request-for-quote and spot-buy capabilities; and payment, streamlining payment and invoice processing.

With this new release, Commerce One is positioning itself to play a bigger role in the e-procurement arena. Wilkerson said that his company's high profile in the e-marketplace arena has overshadowed its work with e-procurement. Commerce One is therefore combining its e-procurement functionality with key elements of its MarketSite e-marketplace environment to produce a stronger e-procurement platform offering with greater collaborative capabilities.

When asked about the dangers of using any derivative of the word "collaborate" in the name of a product offering at a time when some in the field feel that word has been hyped to the point of meaninglessness, Wilkerson commented: "There is a certain numbness to the word 'collaborative,' but as we went back and forth and looked at what we were delivering, there really wasn't anything else that pointed to that real-time, dynamic information chain."

Commerce One has not announced any customers for Collaborative Procurement, but Wilkerson said that such announcements should be out soon.

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