Giving Smaller Companies a Leg up

e-Mail document transfers are well-suited for smaller enterprises

Sterlingcommerce 10160029

Columbus, Ohio  March 19, 2001  SBC Communications Inc., through its subsidiary Sterling Commerce, today introduced Sterling eTransaction Manager, designed to allow smaller companies to complete B2B transactions more efficiently and accurately through integrated e-business processes.

With Sterling eTransaction Manager, users can receive and create electronic purchase orders and invoices and exchange this information with customers and suppliers using Microsoft Outlook e-mail software. Documents are securely routed through Sterling's document management Web service and translated to a standardized format that is compatible with XML- or EDI-based e-commerce systems. This service enables the smaller business users to communicate with each other and with larger companies' e-business networks, regardless of the technologies deployed.

The Sterling eTransaction Manager currently integrates with QuickBooks and Peachtree smaller business accounting software suites, allowing businesses to save time and reduce errors by eliminating the need to manually key enter information from hard copy forms. Integration capabilities with additional accounting software packages are scheduled for release in the near future.

"Until now, most of the smaller businesses have been unable to tap into the efficiencies and new sales opportunities that online commerce offers, simply because the cost of entry was too steep or they didn't have the IT [information technology] resources to implement," said Mark Keiffer, Sterling Commerce president and CEO. "Sterling eTransaction Manager provides a unique, easy-to-use and cost-effective solution for these businesses to streamline their operations, save money and conduct business with suppliers and customers online."

According to Sterling Commerce estimates, a company with $3 million in annual revenue that processes more than 40 invoices or purchase orders monthly through Sterling eTransaction Manager could gain approximately $65,000 annually through increased revenue, faster receipt of accounts  payable and reduced data processing costs.

Additionally, Sterling eTransaction Manager provides a critical link to large business customers that are moving their procurement processes online. Sterling Commerce recognizes that many larger companies are beginning to mandate that suppliers complete transactions through EDI or  Internet-based e-business hubs. While most larger suppliers are able to keep pace, many smaller and medium-sized businesses lack the budgets or IT staffs necessary to develop e-business solutions of their own.

"The cost and time required to develop e-business systems has kept many smaller businesses out of attractive opportunities  and the inability to interact with smaller providers has prevented larger companies from fully realizing e-business operational efficiencies," said Jon Derome, senior analyst with the Yankee Group's B2B commerce research practice. "Products like Sterling eTransaction Manager will improve value chain efficiency by extending electronic transaction capabilities to smaller businesses at reasonable price and implementation levels."