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5/26/2010
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Ariba Launches Cloud Trading Platform

Buyers and sellers gain one-stop, software-free selling and procurement. IBM adds collaboration and social networking tools.

Ariba is bringing together its network of buyers and sellers, its matchmaking capabilities and its trading tools and processes through a unified, Web-based environment called Ariba Commerce Cloud. To communicate more efficiently on that platform, Ariba has partnered with IBM to bring trading partners cloud-based collaboration tools.

Announced at this week's Ariba Live event in Orlando, the Commerce Cloud unites the company's spend-management, finance-management, and sales-generation applications with a Discovery service designed to bring together buyers and sellers from within the firm's vast trading community. In recent years Ariba has converted most of its on-premise applications into discreet software-as-a-service offerings. Ariba Commerce Cloud is said to unite those services in the cloud, giving sales and marketing teams open access to network, procurement executives control over spend and risk, and finance departments efficient invoice, payment and capital-management processes.

Ariba's network is said to touch more than 300,000 companies, including 80% of the Fortune 500. The Discovery service helps these companies find each other through online-dating-style capabilities that match buyers with suppliers that meet their criteria. Ariba is layering in 10 years of transaction history from its network to help make the match.

"If a buyer is looking for, say, a plastic injection-molding firm in the Midwest, they'll find the 10 or 15 firms that meet criteria such as having ISO 9000 certification," said Ariba marketing chief Tim Minahan "They'll also see how they performed, how many RFPs they were invited to bid on and how many they won."

Though the partnership with IBM, Ariba will integrate cloud-based IBM LotusLive collaboration capabilities with Commerce Cloud. For example, suppliers could use LotusLive social networking features to promote their goods. Buyers could get the word out on requests for information. Once buyers identify potential suppliers, they could use discussion forums, e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, secure file sharing and Web conferencing to streamline typically communication-challenged request-for-proposal processes.

"IBM LotusLive will be integrated with Ariba Commerce Cloud so it's a seamless experience rather than hopping around from Ariba to separate tools from separate companies," said Sean Poulley, vice president, IBM Cloud Collaboration.

The Ariba Commerce Cloud is freely accessible online, so buyers and sellers can see potential buyers and suppliers; when firms spot opportunities, they subscribe to a buying or selling process to do business on the platform. Exact costs and terms were not disclosed.

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