Hoping to add a spark to the online business-to-business software marketplace, IBM said it plans to form an alliance with Ariba, a B2B e-commerce platform provider.
As part of the deal IBM said it will offer Ariba's purchasing software as a paid-for service, called Quick Start, over the Internet.
The software is designed to allow companies to connect to suppliers to purchase basic goods like office supplies and furniture, at what Ariba said is a “much lower price” than traditional methods that rely on phone or fax.
According to IBM, Quick Start can get companies up and running and purchasing goods within 21 days. Towers Perrin, a large U.S.-based management consulting firm, is one customer using the new service to reduce the cost of its internal purchasing processes, IBM said.
The company normally spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year buying office supplies, desks, chairs and computers from up to 60 different suppliers. Due to the size and complexity of the business and the buying process it becomes difficult to control who is buying what from where and for how much money.
“It's a major problem,” said John Hays, director of global sourcing and procurement at Towers Perrin. “We had no real ability to manage spend and vendor relationships throughout the country on a day-to-day basis.”
By using the new service Towers Perrin said it has been able to reduce its list of suppliers down to just one. It believes this shift in its business strategy will help save between 20 percent and 35 percent of its annual purchasing costs.