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2/22/2002
03:33 PM
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IBM Partnership Targets Small Businesses

Deal with MarketMile adds procurement portal and partner integration

IBM and E-procurement specialist MarketMile LLC are teaming to make it easier for small and midsize businesses to access electronic-procurement services. IBM will add MarketMile's procurement portal to its Leveraged Procurement Services, until now targeted mostly at large businesses.

MarketMile is a private company funded in part by American Express Co. It sells hosted, customized versions of Ariba Inc.'s E-procurement application. Users can order everything from office supplies to maintenance and repair services from vendors that participate in the MarketMile network. MarketMile also will help integrate a company's trading partners into the network.

The deal could help IBM establish a larger services presence in a fast-growing market, analysts say. "Smaller companies typically can't afford their own E-procurement implementations, so cost-sharing with others through a hosted arrangement makes a lot of sense," says Aberdeen Group analyst Tim Minahan. IBM executives readily concede that the small-and midsize-business markets represent key territory for the growth-challenged company. "It's a must-win battle," says Peter Rowley, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners.

MarketMile's network includes more than 60 suppliers of business-to business products and services. Beyond dealing directly with their own suppliers, businesses using the network also can save money by participating in bulk-purchasing programs with other companies. American Express Corporate Management Services clients also can integrate their applications with the system to automate tasks such as purchasing and account reconciliation.

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