Going Private

RightWorks focuses on private exchanges with new release

SAN JOSE, Calif.  February 12, 2001  e-Business software provider RightWorks made a play for the burgeoning private trading exchange market Monday with the announcement of the latest version of its e-business software.

Version 7.0 of RightWorks' eBusiness Application Suite adds integration, direct procurement and sell-side features that the company says will help enterprises tie together their disparate e-business initiatives into a uniform platform for conducting commerce over the Internet.

The new release marks a shift in RightWorks' focus away from providing the software to operate online, public exchanges. "RightWorks has decided to focus on the private trading exchange (PTX) market," said Bob Parker, vice president for e-business strategies at Boston-based IT consultancy AMR Research.

Parker described the PTX as the up-and-coming "corporate command center" for B2B commerce. "The best way to envision the PTX is to view it as the application platform on which an individual company will build its trading interface to the outside world via the Internet," Parker explained. "Even companies engaged with the various public exchanges will build their own PTX to provide a single integration point for B2B."

As RightWorks sees it, a private trading exchange should allow a company to preserve its legacy ERP systems while also maximizing the benefits of buy- and sell-side e-commerce initiatives. "Everybody spent the last five to ten years investing a lot of time and money implementing ERP systems, and the last thing that they want to do is trash those and start again," said Lou Unkeless, vice president of product marketing at RightWorks, "They'd like to leverage those [ERP systems] and get some value from them." At the same time, with companies implementing e-procurement and sell-side e-business systems, as well as working on one or more horizontal or vertical e-marketplaces, "integration becomes the defining focal point to help a company successfully transform to e-business," Unkeless said.

The integration piece of the eBusiness Application Suite is the 2G eBusiness Platform -- "2G" standing for "second generation." The platforms uses technology from webMethods to integrate disparate internal legacy systems with e-business applications and, using Manugistics' ExchangeWORKS and NetWORKS software, enables two-way integration with external trading partners. RightWorks rebuilt (or "rearchitected" in IT lingo) the 2G Platform on a uniform messaging bus developed with Enterprise Java Beans, which the company says will increase the scalability, extensibility and openness of the platform.

Buy-side software in Version 7.0 includes a strategic sourcing component to allow companies to purchase direct materials through an online request-for-proposal, request-for-quote or reverse auction process. Unkeless said that the RightWorks software allows an enterprise with geographically dispersed offices to consolidate demand from multiple sites and channel the spend to the optimal supplier or suppliers.

On the sell side, the suite allows a company to set up and manage its own auctions. The software provides a bid rule engine with support for various auctions or reverse auctions, as well as 17 templates for industry-specific auction types. The RightWorks Auctioning software provides support for open, closed and sealed bid auctions, and support for both public and private auctions.

The expansion into sell-side functionality is a departure for RightWorks, which hitherto had focused on the buy side. The move gives the software provider an "expanded footprint," Unkeless said, and allows RightWorks to tie the buy and sell sides together. "We're expanding into the sell side to enable a company to capture and consolidate demand, and then turn that into requirements and match it with your supply base," Unkeless said.

RightWorks' shift in focus toward private trading exchanges could prove well timed. "The private trading exchange will steal the spotlight from the public and consortium exchanges that got most of the attention in 2000," said AMR's Parker. AMR estimates that the market for PTX software and services will reach $35 billion by 2005, and Parker believes that RightWorks could hold its own in this segment. "RightWorks has the requisite multi-organization, transaction and analytics capabilities to be a viable alternative in this market," he said.