Startup is set to tackle B-to-B services

After working in stealth mode for five years, Patrick Grady recently took the wraps off his company’s efforts to build an e-commerce platform that supports a range of services users can tap into on an as-needed basis. The first of the hosted applications, available from the newly minted Rearden Commerce Inc., provides one console for coordinating business services procurement such as booking flights or shipping packages.

“There will be an entire suite of applications for on-demand commerce, initially geared around employee services procurement — like travel and shipping packages,” says Grady, founder and CEO of the company formerly known as Talaris. “Next up will be things like temporary labour services, contract labour services and outsourced manufacturing services.”

Inefficiencies traditionally plague services procurement. Rearden’s goal is to curb maverick spending by keeping users’ services requests in line with corporate policies. Moving services procurement to an online environment can reduce operating costs for companies, make life easier for employees and help suppliers optimize inventory, Grady says.

The foundation for Rearden’s offerings is a commerce platform built as a service-oriented architecture. Web services provide real-time access to information such as the availability of airline seats. A system of reusable application components is designed to let Rearden easily add new composite applications atop the platform.

The platform has three major components:

• Services Assistant, an end-user interface companies can customize according to an employee’s role and access privileges. Via the Services Assistant, users can schedule, purchase and track services requests.

• Services Console, which gives procurement managers and IT staff tools to establish employee spending policies, add and manage suppliers, and analyze overall services procurement trends.

• Services Grid, an XML-based integration application that links end users to the available network of suppliers.

The company’s first application, Employee Business Services (EBS), automates the scheduling, purchasing and management of common employee services such as travel, package shipping, audio and Web conferencing, and dining. It provides access to 80,000 hotel properties, 530 airlines, 50,000 restaurants and global package shipment firms.

Grady says Rearden will succeed where others have failed because of its hardware- and software-agnostic platform.

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