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Netscape ships latest ECXpert

In its first product news since absorbing its former Actra joint venture, Netscape ships a new version of its business-to-business e-commerce software.

In its first product news since absorbing its former Actra joint venture, Netscape Communications (NSCP) is shipping a new version of its business-to-business e-commerce software.

Version 1.1 of its ECXpert e-commerce software is intended for business-to-business transactions over the Internet and EDI networks, Netscape said.

The company also said the software has been integrated with Oracle's packaged business applications. The integration will allow users to link Oracle's manufacturing applications with a front-end order processing system using ECXpert, for example.

"Why bother with an e-commerce solution if it doesn't hook up to the back office?" said Vernon Keenan, an Internet commerce analyst with Zona Research. "It makes sense for ECXpert to be seen as a preferred choice to be integrated with Oracle back offices. I believe Netscape now has the smoothest connection to Oracle."

"They've got all the technology," he added. "Now they've got to figure out how to put it together."

Netscape's Steve Savignano, senior vice president, agreed: "Connectivity to ERP systems will be critical." SAP connectivity is working in labs but hasn't been certified, he said, and Netscape plans to link to Baan and PeopleSoft when customers ask for it.

The new version of ECXpert, priced from $75,000 for two-processor machines, also links transactions to existing back-end enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP's R/3.

This business-to-business market of electronic commerce will be Netscape's growth engine, executives have said. Various analyst estimates pegged the value of the business-to-business market at $8 billion last year, and it is expected to reach more than $100 billion by year 2000.