IBM Canada, Mediagrif team on e-purchasing

In a move targeted to the mid-size company market, IBM Canada Ltd. and Montreal-based e-commerce firm Mediagrif Interactive Technologies Inc. announced Tuesday a joint e-procurement initiative.

The companies said e-Procurement QuickStart, a service designed to bring together buyers and suppliers via online procurement sourcing and ordering programs, applies both IBM’s consulting services with Mediagrif’s e-commerce application tools to provide hosted end-to-end e-procurement.

IBM said the e-Procurement QuickStart service – which will be hosted from its new Internet data centre in Montreal – is designed to boost a company’s supply chain management capabilities by streamlining its e-procurement processes.

Marketplaces for mid-size companies, such as those that sell electronics and computer equipment, currently need an application service provider (ASP) solution tailored to their needs, said Mediagrif spokesman Marc Duhamel.

“Mediagrif provides technologies to companies that want to do e-procurement or that want to do development of e-catalogues,” Duhamel said. “(It’s) a market that has not been well covered; it is that market where solutions were not affordable because the solution involved purchasing of equipment, software and licences, and that would discourage them from considering such an application. This program…allows them to get involved with e-procurement at a reasonable cost.”

Effective e-procurement starts with proper internal processes and supplier relationships, said Jeff Connie, national practice leader for IBM Canada in Markham, Ont. However, Connie added the service can reduce company costs by “enhancing” the customer-supplier relationship.

“The end-to-end means that it’s a full solution. It’s not just the procurement engine, but it’s also the hardware and software they need to integrate it into their back-end financial systems. It means there’s a full service program on how you help a buyer and seller use it,” Connie said.

“Mid-market clients have to look at the suppliers with much more enhanced relationship. That’s why this particular program is focusing on their existing supplier base. A lot of mid-size companies do not have full formal procurement programs in place,” Connie said.

This announcement seems to reflect a calculated strategy by IBM to form global alliances with smaller firms – IBM recently announced a similar partnership with Toronto-based integrated business solutions firm Navison Canada to deliver e-business solutions to small and mid-sized businesses.

Mediagrif Interactive Technologies in Montreal is at

IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont. is at

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