Helping agencies set up shop

Federal agencies looking for a way to set up an easy-to-use and affordable

electronic marketplace have a new option, thanks to an agreement made last

week between IBM Corp. and Data Junction Corp.

Data Junction will incorporate its content aggregation and data integration

tool to work with IBM's WebSphere Commerce Suite, Marketplace Edition — an end-to-end solution for quickly developing e-marketplaces and connecting

buyers and suppliers. The combined services can accommodate more than 60

applications and data formats.

"The challenge for IBM's customers has been that their e-marketplaces

were not prefilled with data," said Bret Starr, marketing director for Data

Junction. "Government agencies are notorious for having large legacy data

stores, and the real value here for them is the availability of a rapid,

out-of-the-box solution for putting data from an organization into a compatible

format for e-business."

Starr said about 5 percent of Data Junction's 110,000 users are from

the federal government, including the departments of Defense, Labor and

Energy, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade

Commission, the Customs Service and the U.S. Postal Service.

"The federal government does business with a lot of nongovernment entities,

and the private sector is building e-marketplaces that the federal government

is going to want to participate in," Starr said.

IBM's WebSphere Commerce Suite, Marketplace Edition includes the ability

to conduct auctions and reverse auctions, secure membership registration

and provide seamless communication between buyers and sellers. The company

also announced last week that the product now enables users to create online

marketplaces that interact with handheld devices.

Data Junction's solutions cost about $5,000, compared with services

costing tens of thousands or even millions of dollars from the company's

competitors, Starr said.

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