Coopers and Lybrand has boosted its electronic commerce offering through an alliance with software house Intershop Communications, but arch rival KPMG claims it is just playing catch-up.
Through the tie-up, the technology services wing of the Big Six management consultancy - called Solutions Thru Technology (STT) - aims to offer its corporate clients a complete ecommerce strategy centred around two of its partner's applications, Intershop Online and Intershop Mall.
?Access to Intershop?s technology, extensive knowledge and resources allows us to intergrate powerful and flexible ecommerce solutions with our clients? systems,? said Shirley Bogan, STT practice director for San Francisco.
But Paul Baker, head of ecommerce for C&L rival KPMG, puts a different spin on the alliance. ?This deal is basically an attempt to catch up on the part of Coopers. We have invested heavily in ecommerce consulting for a long time and have created a worldwide network of ecommerce consulting groups. Other companies have only just started to address this market and are having to team up with niche players in order to get up to speed.?
Intershop denies this is a niche deal. David Silverman, Intershop's business development and strategic alliances manager, said: ?We are going to be doing a lot more than design Web sites. We will be able to tailor our software to accommodate the wide range of Cooper?s clients. With manufacturing businesses for example, we will be able to connect customers directly into their distribution database."
He continued: "Products will be bought electronically and the manufacturer?s accounts will automatically be adjusted. People will be able to place orders without having to mess around with phones and faxes.?
According to Petra Vorsteher, vice president of business development at Intershop, working with one of the world?s leading professional services firms will put the company in a good position to promote Intershop technology to Fortune 1,000 companies. Intershop?s other main partners include Netscape, Silicon Graphics and Siemens Nixdorf.
Both KPMG and Coppers are keen to point out the bright future of ecommerce, yet a report carried out by research firm Computer Intelligence questioned 40,000 US businesses and discovered that less than two per cent of the country?s 4.8 million computerised business locations are involved in any form of ecommerce. However, this figure is double the one reported last year.
A further study by Forrester Research estimates that consumers and businesses will funnel $8 billion in electronic trading through commercial sites this year, which will increase to some $546 billion by 2000.
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