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B2B software maker revamps e-commerce network

Updates to Global Exchange's system include technology geared to work with RFID tools.

Global Exchange Services has introduced a new version of its business-to-business e-commerce network that adds features gained through its acquisition of Haht Commerce.

The B2B software specialist, a spinoff of General Electric, said Tuesday that it almost entirely revamped its e-commerce network, which is responsible for an estimated 1 billion transactions annually and counts more than 30,000 companies as customers. The new version, dubbed Trading Grid, has automatically been launched to all businesses already on Global Exchange's marketplace.

"This release augments our existing communities with new capabilities gained through the experience of having 100,000-plus trading partners connected worldwide," said Rowland Archer, chief technology officer at Global Exchange. "Working with all of those people is our competitive advantage."

Upgrades to the network include a range of tools such as messaging, expanded access methods, central data storage, and business application hosting services.

Global Exchange acquired Haht, which marketed data synchronization software, in January 2004.

While more than half of Global Exchange's customers are Fortune 500 companies, there are increasingly larger numbers of small and midsize businesses using the e-commerce marketplace, Archer said. He expects that number to grow over time.

"Enterprise companies are pretty comfortable making the investment needed to do B2B communication, but when you get to the medium and small companies, it is more of a manual process, and there are a much larger number of potential customers," Archer said.

Another update to the system is technology for interfacing with customers' radio frequency identification (RFID) tools. RFID is being adopted rapidly across a number of manufacturing sectors to aid in the tracking of products and supplies.

Global Exchange said that retailers can use Trading Grid to track international shipments as inbound goods flow through almost any kind of facility or transaction. The goal of the system is to allow retailers to optimize sales through better planning.

"Our e-commerce needs are rapidly evolving, and we expect that Trading Grid will help us move beyond simply connecting with trading partners to truly engaging with them to collaboratively manage business processes," Kevin McGee, business-to-business manager at Borders Group, said in a statement.