Siebel Systems and i2 have signed a development and marketing deal in an attempt to create more efficient, extended supply chains for the business to business ecommerce market.
At the same time, Siebel, which sells customer relationship management (CRM) packages, has recruited i2's supply chain management (SCM) rival, Manugistics, as a strategic partner.
Siebel's decision to sign up i2 follows disappointment over the Christmas period about the ability of some retailers to deliver online goods to customers. As a result, the two companies hope their joint development efforts will go some way towards making the promise a reality.
David Byrd, i2's business development director, said: "Siebel will get order promising capability and analytics for field service. i2 gets campaign and sales analytics along with call centre, direct and email execution of the sales processes."
While the first products are slated for delivery by June this year, Byrd also cautioned that "ongoing development on both sides may mean we have more to do than we anticipate at this time".
The alliance is intended to help both suppliers attack markets that have been difficult for them to penetrate in the past, in particular the retail and consumer packaged goods sectors.
The aim of Siebel's relationship with Manugistics, however, is to provide applications that integrate multiple customer inputs in realtime with demand planning and replenishment.
Greg Owens, Manugistics' chief executive, said: "Today's businesses need to deliver more than promises to customers. The extensive functionality offered will enable companies to realise profitable growth while improving customer service."
But Bruce Ferrari, an analyst at AMR Research, said: "While alliance agreements with separate and highly competitive SCM vendors may seem unusual, we expect other partnerships among competing SCM and CRM vendors to be announced as best of breed vendors align to compete against the integrated offerings from the major [enterprise resource planning] ERP vendors."
He added: ""We anticipate a race between Manugistics and i2 in their ongoing development efforts to present the most compelling product functionality for their respective customer constituencies. Sustained market traction will be the prize."
And Mike Schmitt, senior vice president of strategy at ERP supplier JD Edwards, said: "This is an interesting combination. It puts some pressure on vendors like us, but we already benefit from a strong Siebel relationship in the mid market."
Siebel has now partnered with more than 500 different vendors, but it sees such relationships as key to long term growth.
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