Supply chain alliance targets overheads

IBM and supply chain specialist IBS have formed an alliance to offer a set of products and services to medium sized businesses

IBM and supply chain specialist IBS have formed an alliance to offer a set of products and services to medium sized businesses

The alliance incorporates IBS' Virtual Enterprise Supply Chain collaboration software with IBM middleware products, eServer and IBM Global Services Supply Chain Management services.

The two firms hope the alliance will help medium-sized companies integrate and coordinate different enterprise resource platform (ERP) systems within a geographically dispersed group of companies and between supply chain partners. The overall goal is to offer such companies a technology path to building an integrated supply chain management (SCM) and order fulfilment system.

According to IBM and IBS, investments in integration give high returns by maximising existing investments in different brands of ERP systems or tailoring software already present in the organisation.

Murray Mitchell, vice president of IBM Global Services' Buy & Supply consulting practice said: "This will allow customers to maximise prior technology investments through tighter systems integration across their organisations."

The two companies will jointly market and implement integrated solutions. IBM Global Services will establish consultancy practices in selected countries and provide customisation and integration services for joint IBM and IBS solutions.

The IBM/IBS alliance is among a number of industry initiatives to develop IT systems and services for supplier relationship management. SAP announced its SRM plans in early January.

At the time Beth Barling, an analyst at AMR Research, warned that while supply chain technology now allowed collaborative e-commerce, pricing was becoming a major issue.

"ERP manufacturers are making it easier than ever for suppliers to have the tools to access back-end systems," she said. "But vendors are grappling with pricing models for distributed applications and users should ensure they ask about pricing models."

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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