It's a European Thing

B2B continues to gain Euro-traction

Paris and Arnhem, The Netherlands  March 23, 2001   Maybe it's something in the water, but there has been a spate of B2B developments and initiatives coming from across the pond. The French and Dutch are the latest to make headlines, the French for e-marketplace answork, the Dutch for Akzo Nobel becoming the first Dutch firm to enter an electronic marketplace.

answork, the B2B marketplace launched by BNP Paribas, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Credit Agricole and Societe Generale has selected the webMethods B2Bi Solution Suite as its integration platform. answork operates electronic marketplaces that allow customers to optimize their commercial business transactions via the Internet. Currently answork focuses on the processing of ongoing pre-negotiated purchases of goods and services (office supplies, furniture, computers, office automation, maintenance, temporary help, etc.).

"A major consideration for answork is to be able to offer its trading partners universal, simple integration solutions that can be rapidly deployed. For this invitation to tender, we have selected webMethods for its understanding of the B2B market and the company's technical leadership," explains Martial Gerardin, director of operations at answork.

webMethods will provide technical solutions for answork's B2Bi strategy, including the  integration of processes and applications throughout the company and in real-time. The webMethods B2Bi Solution Suite provides a solution for rapidly integrating answork's internal applications and then extends them across the Internet to connect with trading partners' management solutions.

In The Netherlands, Akzo Nobel recently launched its e-procurement initiative, making it the first Dutch-based company to join a public e-procurement marketplace. The first two orders were placed by the company's Base Chemicals business unit at a special event held at Akzo Nobel's headquarters in Arnhem. "Our original decision to enter this new area of e-procurement made sheer business logic, and that has been the case all the way through the development of the initiative," explained Rene Scheffers, general manager of Base Chemicals. "Much the better that our initiative is also of high value to Akzo Nobel as a whole."

To help launch its common e-procurement solution, known as "BUY-CEPS" (Business Units' Common E-Procurement System), Akzo Nobel has connected to BT MarketSite. This public online marketplace, based in the United Kingdom, connects buyers with suppliers to enable the complete automation of the ordering process for indirect goods and services, such as computer hardware and software, stationery and maintenance. The site has connections with the worldwide trading Web, and Base Chemicals aims to be ordering from 50 suppliers within six months. A target of placing 50,000 orders annually has also been set, which will represent 50 per cent of the business unit's yearly transactions. Efficiency savings using the new system for the planned 50,000 orders have been estimated at EUR 2-3 million.

"This is just the first step to a global Akzo Nobel-wide e-procurement system," said Ronald Baars, the company's director of purchasing, who coordinates the BUY-CEPS initiative. "Together with the business units, we are creating a common solution for the whole company, enabling us to participate efficiently, and stay competitive, in future market dynamics."