PeopleSoft launches B2B MarketPlace

PeopleSoft has launched its rendition of B2B (business-to-business) on-line exchange with the introduction of the PeopleSoft MarketPlace, a suite of Internet-based applications geared to drive B2B e-commerce.

Powered by PeopleSoft’s XML-based Internet Architecture, MarketPlace (MP) – initially introduced in early May – promises to extend its users’ enterprises to the ‘net and into the wild world of e-commerce. The foundation on which MP is built is one of collaboration – a comprehensive Internet trading network enabling organizations to connect customers, suppliers and employees in ways that cut costs and promote friction-free trading and decision making, according to PeopleSoft.

Kerry Lamson, senior vice-president and general manager of the MarketPlace Solutions Division based in Pleasanton, Calif., said MP is unique in that it offers an interoperability with other on-line exchanges that the competition does not.

“We don’t have to integrate all the suppliers into MarketPlace,” Lamson said. “We are working together with Commerce One towards a global community to offer our customers a variety of business services.”

Guido Smit, country manager for Commerce One in Canada, said PeopleSoft’s on-line exchange is different from that of competitors such as Ariba for the simple fact that MP is a portal first.

“When the big names like Ariba came out, their emphasis was on the procurement application, we already have a procurement application that we’re very proud of,” he explained. “Our emphasis from the very start was on the portal side of things…perhaps two years ago the industry was not as focused on the portal side as much.”

Each MP community is designed to incorporate content, including catalogue aggregation and management, syndicated information, news and events; commerce, the trading and fulfilment capabilities necessary to manage B2B relationships; and services, the foundation for MP is a complete range of infrastructure and business services that deliver comprehensive collaboration capabilities and business process support. Plus, MP’s infrastructure and business services each hold an array of features pertinent to any successful dot-com.

MP infrastructure services include: B2B integration, content management and syndication, data translation (XML connectivity), portal framework, comprehensive trading support, direct connect, user and directory services, global hosting services and a Web storefront.

“We never set out to be an ERP vendor,” Smit continued. “As the market became more interested in e-commerce they looked to us or ERP vendors for those services…PeopleSoft made a smart decision to resell their applications.”

MP business services feature: tax and payment processing, inventory availability, complex pricing, product sourcing, order fulfilment, contracts management, customer relationship management, performance management, an EBPP and recruitment services among many others.

The venture links an impressive list of on-line trading partners including Sabre BTS, Authoria, Skills Village and Impresse. Moreover, the exchange also integrates suppliers from the Commerce One Trading Web including, Office Depot, Micro Warehouse and VWR Scientific. Lamson added the business philosophy of PeopleSoft is to simply link and integrate customers, suppliers and employees seamlessly from a commerce perspective.

Kevin Restivo, an analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, said the linkages forged by PeopleSoft will drive its e-commerce enabler in the right direction.

“The value of any network lies in its participants,” Restivo said. “It’s like a fax machine, what good is it to only have one? Commerce One is a key partnership for PeopleSoft. They have an advantage versus their competition as they have integrated their suite of applications into MarketPlace and their announcement of a rewrite on their Internet-oriented applications is a strong selling point with their customer base.”

Lamson denied any notion that PeopleSoft’s MP initiative will be the weak sister in the B2B market exchange race. PeopleSoft is the late bloomer of the pack that saw Oracle, SAP and J.D. Edwards offer their solutions much earlier.

“In terms of announcements made, most of what’s happened (in on-line exchange) is hype, there’s been few processed transactions,” he said. “If we have been delayed in coming to the market it’s due to the difficulty to get those transactions jump-started.”

MP currently offers e-procurement for office supplies. Future services are scheduled to include direct procurement, resource management, benefits, travel and expense and recruiting. According to PeopleSoft, the solutions will enable strategic decision making by integrating PeopleSoft Enterprise Performance Management, the company’s e-business intelligence suite