In an unprecedented show of solidarity, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Gateway 2000, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), NEC and seven other high-tech powerhouses have put their differences aside to create a new independent company to serve as a business-to-business (B2B) Internet exchange.
Other participating companies include Infineon, Quantum, Samsung, SCI Systems, Solectron, Western Digital and Hitachi.
The alliance members have agreed to form an online exchange to address the inefficiencies of the supply chain for the computing and electronics industries. They estimate that between 5 and 7 per cent of costs can be saved with a collaborative, integrated approach to procuring supplies from manufacturers.
Australian channel and IT industry executives contacted by ARN were upbeat about the vendors' move.
Oliver Descoeudres, marketing manager at NetStar, said the new deal "should provide a catalyst for further growth in B2B".
"Although much of the focus has been on B2C development, it is becoming increasingly clear that B2B is where the real gains are to be made," Descoeudres said. "It's about time there was some serious development in this area, precisely to promote further growth in the sector."
He said any development like this one "needs to be vendor driven" and that neither resellers or integrators have the influence or funds to embark on such a venture.
"However, once the vendors take the initiative, the resellers are able to push the technology further."
Hugh Bickerstaff, general manager of integrator Volante, said it had been modelling itself around B2B technology for nearly two years.
"For us to see the tier-one vendors doing [this] is promising," Bickerstaff said. "Anything that improves their supply chain allows us to offer better service to our customers."
He said this announcement took the process "one step further", extending the supply-chain link further back into the manufacturing process.
"It'll help them get product to market more efficiently," he said. "I don't think it'll change the way the product is brought to market."
Lyle Potgieter, CEO of Logical Asia Pacific, sees the move as a trend across all industries. "A reduction in supply-chain costs can only be of benefit to customers at the end of the day because it will bring about a reduction in their [total] costs," Potgieter said.
"All of those businesses who aren't geared up for these kinds of B2B exchanges will not survive," he said. "At the end of the day, reseller operations must become cleaner and tighter if they are to survive."
IDC analyst Graham Penn said the announcement was very much an attempt to "iron out the ebbs and flows" of the supply chain.