Even as it announced a huge 10-years $1.5 billion outsourcing deal with EDS and an online alliance with Microsoft last week, Telecom was talking to another US company, with an eye to filling a significant gap in its electronic commerce strategy.
A representative of the US company CommerceOne was in New Zealand last week looking to conclude a deal that would seem to help Telecom fulfil its strategic aim of establishing online trading communities. That aim was outlined last last year by Telecom CEO Rod Deane in a statement he said heralded a drive to transform Telecom into an online company.
Although Telecom has fulfilled some of the aims set out by Deane - notably the development of its corporate intranet - it has said little since about trading communities and has not appeared to have any obvious means to pursue such a goal.
CommerceOne's products are already being used as the base for e-commerce portals by British Telecom, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph and Singapore Telecom. Telecom has acknowledged it has been talking to the company.
They have hooks into Intershop, the German technology behind Telecom's flagship Business Builder product and the SAP enterprise platform Telecom uses, and plans to leverage for future e-commerce initiatives.
CommerceOne's Commerce Chain Solution links buying and supplying organisations into "real-time trading communities" in a way the US company says increases efficiency and "reduces operational costs across the entire indirect supply chain". The solution includes a module called BuySite, which automates the internal procurement process from requisition to order; and another called MarketSite, which automates supplier interactions and creates e-commerce portals. Computerworld understands that one other company in the running for the Telecom contract.
Telecom spokesman Glen Sowry says the company is "presently talking to a number of vendors about what products they may be able to offer us that will enable us to deliver our customers a sophisticated online purchasing environment. The scope of this project is significant and we are looking at a wide range of options."