GXS buys software maker Haht Commerce

FRAMINGHAM (01/15/2004) - Global Exchange Services announced Thursday plans to acquire software maker Haht Commerce Inc. in a cash and stock deal valued at US$30 million.

A former General Electric subsidiary, GXS gained recognition as a network operator for business-to-business e-commerce via value-added networks (VAN). Haht specializes in demand chain management, with a software portfolio aimed at helping manufacturers and their business partners manage orders, product information and channel activity.

Over the last few years GXS has been diversifying its network service offerings as demand for electronic data interchange (EDI) activity has shifted away from proprietary VANs and onto the Internet. That migration is fueled in part by pressure from retailers - Wal-Mart, for example, is requiring that its suppliers be able to send and receive EDI data over the Internet using the AS2 standard.

Now GXS is making a play to build out its complementary software offerings - in particular, its data synchronization tools.

Hand-in-hand with the trend to conduct business transactions electronically via the Internet is an effort to clean up those transactions and reduce the occurrence of errors. Bad data costs companies billions of dollars in incorrect purchase orders and the manual effort required to fix them. Manufacturers and retailers will squander as much as $2.1 billion between 2003 and 2008 on business-to-business initiatives unless they first develop a platform to support data synchronization, AMR Research predicts.

With the Haht Commerce purchase, GXS gains product information management software, which aggregates and organizes item-related data from multiple application sources; and syndication tools, which let manufacturers and suppliers synchronize items with retail partners through the UCCnet foundation service. (UCCnet is a nonprofit organization that manages a standards-based item registry for companies' product data.)

By combining Haht's software with its own products, GXS will be able to offer customers a more soup-to-nuts data synchronization bundle: software to integrate data from back-end systems; management tools to publish product information; transaction delivery services to move the information; and a means to electronically connect multiple trading partners in a retail supply chain.

Other vendors have also eyed delivering packaged data synchronization software and transaction delivery services. In September, e-commerce network services vendor Transora and product information management software maker Trigo Technologies announced plans to work together on a joint offering that combines the two companies' products.

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