Tech Industry

Netscape, Lucent in e-commerce

Lucent's first foray into e-commerce demonstrates the industry-specific focus that will drive future sales of e-commerce software, the company says.

Netscape Communications is teaming with Lucent Technologies to sell Netscape's e-commerce software to telephone carriers and large enterprises.

The agreement, which is Lucent's first foray into e-commerce, stands out as an example of an industry-specific focus that will drive future sales of Internet commerce software, according to Netscape senior vice president Steve Savignano.

"We're starting to see the electronic commerce market maturing and undergoing faster adoption as we look to more specific industry solutions," Savignano said.

The joint offering, which combines Lucent's expertise in telecommunications equipment with Netscape's Internet experience, will be marketed as Lucent ECommerce Solutions. It includes consulting services, Lucent network security products (such as Lucent's Managed Firewall and virtual private networking capabilities), and Netscape's application server and CommerceXpert line of e-commerce software.

Lucent's ECommerce Solutions will offer both standard and customized packages in three initial areas: Internet Procurement Solutions to turn paper-based purchasing into online transactions; Self-Service Solutions to let customers check their accounts and personalize services on a company's Web site; and Business Trading Solutions to help service providers and enterprises host online trading communities.

To be added to the offerings: Lucent's Internet Call Center, which uses a "talk to me" button so customers can talk to a customer service agent while browsing a Web site--without a second phone line.

Although Open Market has sold a hosting version of its e-commerce software to numerous phone carriers around the world, Lucent doesn't consider Open Market a competitor. Instead, it is focused on efforts by IBM and large consulting firms that specialize in the telco market.

"We are seeing a move away from the pure product play to the product plus some industry specific institutions," Savignano said. "Just a toolkit approach is not going to be competitive as we up the ante around industry-specific solutions."

He identified two other industry segments as examples, both where Netscape signed recent customer deals: last monthwith Ford Motor subsidiary Visteon and in May with Citibank.

Lucent will use Netscape's application server as the basis for customized applications in the self-service area, for instance to handle complaints.

Separately, Netscape also announced version 3.0 of its Application Builder tools for building multi-tier distributed applications based on Netscape Application Server. The new development environment is designed to shorten the time required to build applications.

"We're not in the business of competing against a Symantec or other tools vendors," said Raj Gossain, group product marketing manager with Netscape. "We needed a tool to give people a better sense of how to develop for this application framework."

The new applications tools are to ship by year's end for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, and Solaris. Pricing is targeted at $1,295 per user.