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Lante unveils services aimed at honing Net business

The Internet consultancy introduces three new service lines focused on helping its clients refine their Internet initiatives and boost their online operations.

    Web consultancy Lante is broadening its horizons at a time when most of its counterparts are struggling to cope with an overall market slump.

    Lante, which specializes in helping companies build online marketplaces, introduced three new service lines Monday focused on helping its clients refine their Internet initiatives and boost their online operations to reflect changing economic conditions and business needs.

    The Chicago-based company said its new service offerings assist companies in identifying and implementing ways to reach certain business goals such as reducing costs and building closer ties with customers and suppliers via Web collaboration.

    "From a competitive standpoint, it's no longer enough for Lante to differentiate ourselves by saying, 'We focus on e-markets,'" said Kevin Kutz, a spokesman for Lante. "Our sector has become more crowded. We need to distance ourselves from the pack of consultants that have also developed (online marketplace) capabilities as part of their portfolio of skills."

    Lante, like many other players in the battered Internet consulting sector, has been struggling with disappointing quarterly results, a waning stock price and a string of layoffs.

    But unlike many competitors in the field, Lante has been focusing strictly on online marketplaces, which have grown popular among many companies that look to the Web to improve the way they conduct business with their suppliers and partners. Online marketplaces are thought to also reduce purchasing costs and eliminate the amount of paperwork typically involved in most transactions.

    With the downfall of many dot-coms, which had been the bread and butter in terms of clients for most Web consultancies, analysts have said the next big land grab for many players will be lending their Internet-related consulting expertise in helping clients build online marketplaces.

    Each of Lante's new service lines addresses a specific type of Internet business challenge that companies may face, such as tying together Web site operations with back-end computer systems.

    With its new PowerPlayer suite, Lante said it will help companies explore and pursue the best ways to use current Web collaboration models to reduce costs, grow revenue and reap other cost-saving returns.

    The new ExplorerSuite provides clients help with assessment and guidance on a strategic level for specific online business issues such as ways to realize investment return by participating on other online marketplaces. The MarketMaker suite, which stems from Lante's core specialty, is designed for companies that need help participating in an online marketplace or creating a series of private marketplaces between itself and its partners and customers.

    Lante said current clients such as Dell Computer and online consortium Project Octane are already using some of the company's new service offerings. Although Dell recently shut down its online marketplace, which Lante helped develop, the company said it is working with Dell to help transition its customers to connect to Dell's online purchasing and ordering systems.