IBM, Microsoft bolster commerce, support on servers

Hot properties

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IBM is stoking an already hot property, as WebSphere Commerce Suite posted 300% revenue growth in 2000, more than double the e-commerce server software industry's 145% growth, according to the research firm International Data Corp.

Meanwhile, Microsoft last week loaned Commerce One Inc. $25 million to engineer two products for use on b-to-b marketplaces: branded Commerce One Gateway for Microsoft BizTalk and Commerce One MarketSite connectivity kit for Microsoft BizTalk. The two products augment a company's Web site by extending sales capabilities to marketplaces.

Among the two products' attributes are the ability to publish a catalog to an exchange, connection to SAP AG, Oracle Corp. and other back-office systems and delivery of 30 prewritten extensible markup language documents, including purchase orders.

"Business-to-business requirements are now seeming to merge," said Rebecca Kaske, director of b-to-b strategies for Microsoft. "Integrated access into marketplaces is now just an extension of the [online Web presence]."

Microsoft-Commerce One products should be ready for release by the third quarter. About 2,500 Microsoft sales representatives will promote the products throughout the year. Microsoft will distribute some software to clients, but Commerce One will rack up all sales.

IBM plans intensive marketing to enforce the notion that it leads the b-to-b e-commerce software race, Carter said. WebSphere will be sold under the tagline "Fast, flexible and fearless." A sponsorship during Memorial Day's Indianapolis 500 will keep those words top of mind, she said.

More broadly, IBM is also making sure its marketing keeps atop the market. This week, a $60 million marketing campaign designed to reinforce IBM's e-business strategy and its alliances will launch.

Taglined "We know, they know," print advertising will appear throughout 2001 in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, Business 2.0 and Industry Week.

--BtoB reporter Matthew Schwartz contributed to this report.

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