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Tapping online supplier networks: Where should Microsoft Dynamics ERP users turn?

by Bridget McCrea
Contributing Writer,

We first saw supplier networks emerge online in the 1990s, when the business world was going gaga over the early stages of e-commerce and online trading. Originally tagged "online exchanges," these networks promised to disintermediate traditional distributors by putting buyers and sellers in direct contact online. As part of that process, everything from orders to customer service to financial transactions would take place on the web.

While the first generation of online exchanges didn't quite live up to expectations (due in part, of course, to the dot-com implosion of the early-2000s), the new guard appears to be gaining ground in the area staked out by its predecessors. Ariba, Hubwoo, and Cortex are just a handful of the "e-procurement" or supplier exchange platforms that promise to streamline buying and selling by moving it into the online space.

Using these online platforms, companies can tie the various processes related to procurement - from sourcing to settlement, spend management, and visibility/process improvement - under one umbrella online. The more trading partners that get involved in the platform, the better the time and monetary savings, thanks to critical mass.

A Dynamics twist

John Trush, director of operations and strategy at Junction Solutions in Englewood, Colo., says Ariba's applicability for Microsoft Dynamics users remains somewhat of a mystery as SAP absorbs the giant e-procurement network and decides what to do with it. "Ariba is built out to cover all aspects of supply chain management," says Trush, "but whether it will be available for Dynamics users ...

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About Bridget McCrea

Bridget McCrea covers business and technology topics for various publications. She can be reached at

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