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IBM Aims for B2B E-Commerce

IBM Corp. took steps Wednesday to expand into the growing business-to-business e-commerce sector by investing in and forming strategic alliances with B2B plays Ariba Inc. and i2 Technologies Inc.

Calling their joint venture "B2B Redefined," the three companies will integrate their technologies, as well as develop global marketing strategies and integrated selling of targeted solutions. IBM's investment in the two companies accounts for a minority interest. Specific details were not disclosed.

IBM (IBM) will work with i2 (ITWO) and Ariba (ARBA) to develop an open marketplace platform by integrating i2's TradeMatrix marketplace tools and the Ariba B2B e-commerce platform with its existing IBM technology.

The new platform will be compatible with IBM's e-business software, including WebSphere, WebSphere Commerce Suite, DB2 and MQSeries.

The alliance was made to specifically accelerate full-service marketplaces, integrated supply chains and networks of open services. The integrated solution is expected to dramatically impact the B2B landscape by providing a solution to automate all business interactions between trading partners, delivering greater cost savings, efficiencies and competitive advantage to global corporations and marketplaces, according to William A. Etherington, senior vice president and group executive, IBM sales and distribution.

"IBM, Ariba, and i2 have taken the best of what we each have to offer and created a solution and a set of tools that will immediately allow customers -- whether they want to improve internal efficiencies or become market makers -- to not only get in the game, but win," said Etherington.

The business-to-business e-commerce space is hot right now, with analysts predicting it to be a $400 billion business this year alone. By 2004, B2B e-commerce will represent 7 percent of the forecasted $105 trillion total global sales transactions, according to a recent study by Gartner Group Inc.