Systems integrator Data#3 this month joined the e-business bandwagon with the launch of its Business Partner Network (BPN). According to officials, the BPN provides an online portal through which Data#3 customers can streamline their dealings with the integrator.
By using the service, Data#3's customers can now view product information, availability and pricing, raise and authorise purchase orders online as well as log and view support requests online.
Data#3 is by no means the first channel organisation to revamp its operations with an e-commerce bent, however a recurring theme of efficiency increases and cost savings for both Data#3 and its customers is apparent.
"A single purchase order raised by any one of our customers can cost them as much as $50," said John Grant, Data#3's managing director.
"When you move the purchase and requisitioning over to an electronic model, this drops to less than $10," he claimed.
Grant added that it's the integrator's customers that are continually forcing the organisation to embark on service enhancements.
"The channel is already experiencing a hell of a lot of change in service at the distribution level, but for VARs and integrators the demands are coming from customers who expect to receive high-class configuration and supply capabilities at reasonable prices.
"It's vital that we understand our customers' business commitments and their desire to exercise their own purchasing options, which now include e-commerce," Grant said.
The BPN service is based primarily on Microsoft technology including Windows NT Server 4.0 and Microsoft BackOffice. Views can be personalised for each customer.
Apart from providing BPN as an online service to its own existing customers, Data#3 also offers BPN as a product in itself.
"This means that customers could implement a Windows NT Server- and BackOffice-based online procurement system that can encompass their own customers and suppliers," Grant said.