IBM links business software, e-commerce

IBM Global Services unveils software to link e-commerce Web sites to back-end business systems, including enterprise resource planning.

Kim Girard
Kim Girard has written about business and technology for more than a decade, as an editor at CNET News.com, senior writer at Business 2.0 magazine and online writer at Red Herring. As a freelancer, she's written for publications including Fast Company, CIO and Berkeley's Haas School of Business. She also assisted Business Week's Peter Burrows with his 2003 book Backfire, which covered the travails of controversial Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. An avid cook, she's blogged about the joy of cheap wine and thinks about food most days in ways some find obsessive.
Kim Girard
2 min read
IBM today announced new services to help business managers measure return on investments before embarking on e-commerce projects, as well as software to more easily tie back-end financial systems to a Web storefront.

IBM's Commerce Integrator is out-of-the-box software that is intended to connect transactions on a company's commerce Web site to more than 35 different back-end platforms, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that automate a firm's financials, human resources, and manufacturing needs.

Customers in many cases spend 50 percent or more of their Web initiative budget on integration costs alone, according to IBM, which made a raft of e-commerce announcements today at Spring Internet World in Los Angeles. By IBM estimates, only 7 percent to 10 percent of IBM customers have integrated their Web sites to their back-end systems.

IBM said Commerce Integrator will enable customers using its Net.Commerce platform to route orders, set terms for how transactions are completed, and remap orders for suppliers. Commerce Integrator can be used to tie Web transactions to back-end systems such as ERP vendor SAP's flagship R/3.

IBM is working with mid-tier ERP vendor JBA, among others, to build adapters customers need to use Commerce Integrator.

IBM customers Whirlpool and technology firm Varian are testing Commerce Integrator, the company said.

The company's next step is to integrate Commerce Integrator for use with a company's suppliers, customers, and business partners by adding support for XML and Open Buying on the Internet (OBI), IBM said.

The company today also introduced a Return on Web Investment service that helps managers develop a business case, establish a plan, and do an ROI analysis before starting an e-business project.

The service, which answers questions about buyer behavior, market size, and potential revenues, is priced from $40,000 for a small company to $400,000 for a larger firm.

IBM e-business Accelerator, an online consulting service that helps executives understand how they can use the Web to a competitive advantage, also will be available in July at a price of $300 a year. More information is available at the company's Web site.