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Breakaway pushes build-your-own marketplaces

Hoping to win a piece of the business e-commerce boom, the Web consulting firm launches a program to help companies build their online marketplaces.

    Hoping to win a piece of the business e-commerce boom, Web consulting firm Breakaway Solutions launched a program today to help companies build their online marketplaces.

    Dubbed MarketMover, the program offers businesses Web strategy, systems integration and application hosting services from Breakaway, along with e-commerce software from partners including RightWorks, CommerceQuest, Emptoris, Entegrity, eShare Technologies and Netegrity.

    For example, CommerceQuest's software will provide security and delivery of online business transactions. eShare will automate customer contact centers and other Web-based customer relationship management applications.

    With the partnerships and Breakaway's experience in building marketplaces for clients including VerticalNet and, its goal is to have companies running their own online marketplaces within two months.

    Breakaway is the latest services company to target online marketplace development. Other rivals--including early application service provider Corio, professional services giants Electronic Data Systems and Computer Sciences, and consulting firm Andersen Consulting--have been scrambling to bolster their efforts in the lucrative business e-commerce market.

    "Breakaway has taken a (business-to-business) focus," said Christine Overby, an industry analyst at Forrester Research. "Since B2B has become the next big thing, there are a lot of service providers now focused on creating these marketplaces...They are recognizing that B2B is the next big land grab."

    A major driver is the huge revenues potential. Leading research firms foresee the business-to-business market growing to between $2.7 trillion and $7.3 trillion by 2004. Most of the action has centered on online marketplaces or trading exchanges that connect buyers and sellers of products and supplies.

    Corio recently unveiled Will B2B's magic last?eMarket, a service for businesses that want to develop their own exchanges or marketplaces. The company, which already hosts procurement software from Commerce One, said it will host, manage, install and support auction and exchange software from Moai Technologies and Requisite Technology.

    Earlier this year, EDS agreed to use Ariba's business e-commerce software to help companies link with partners and suppliers.

    Breakaway said its MarketMover features an open framework of software and XML (Extensible Markup Language) that will help multiple exchanges work together. XML is a popular Web standard by which businesses can easily exchange data between employees, customers, partners and suppliers.

    "Breakaway's program is 60 percent baked and 40 percent customizable so that they don't have to go in and start from scratch" each time they develop a marketplace, Forrester's Overby said.

    She added that development typically is more complicated. Breakaway's challenges include quickly stitching together several companies' computer systems on a single Web site.