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SAP unit taps Accenture for Net exchanges

SAPMarkets chooses the consulting firm to help customers build and implement private online exchanges.

    SAP subsidiary SAPMarkets said Monday it picked Accenture as its consulting services partner to help customers build and implement private online exchanges.

    Consulting firm Accenture will provide a team of business-to-business consultants to develop and integrate private online exchanges to SAPMarkets customers using MarketSet, a joint software product from SAPMarkets and business-to-business software maker Commerce One.

    Private online exchanges, which restrict membership to a company's partners and suppliers, closely parallel the 30-year-old EDI (electronic data interchange) technology, but with an Internet slant. The exchanges, which allow companies to trade goods and services with their key partners and suppliers over the Web, will survive and possibly thrive as more companies revamp their back-office systems, analysts say.

    With its partnership with Accenture, SAPMarkets looks to further its push into the private exchange market, which analysts expect to surpass the market for public marketplaces. Jupiter Media Metrix estimates spending by North American businesses on building private exchanges to shoot from $230 million in 2000 to more than $37 million by 2005.

    German software giant SAP announced plans to target the private online exchange market in April. The company's strategy to fuel the development of private online exchanges will also incorporate the company's software that automates and handles order fulfillment, customer service, the supply chain, logistics, sales and procurement.

    Businesses set up private exchanges as a way to help reduce costs and simplify transactions. SAP rivals Oracle, Ariba, i2 Technologies and others have all been moving deeper into private online exchanges, despite the recent economic slowdown.

    SAP got into the business-to-business market when it signed a deal with Commerce One last year.