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Ariba (NASDAQ:ARBA) is now teaming with Microsoft in business streamlining to empower buyers and sellers to better connect and collaborate across Microsoft applications and Ariba's commerce cloud services.

Announced last week at the AribaLIVE conference in Las Vegas, the joint effort paves the way for many more businesses and resellers globally to plug into what Ariba calls the Networked Economy by giving Microsoft Dynamics AX users automated access to the Ariba Network.

Microsoft Dynamics offers productivity tools and built-in contextual business intelligence that help decision-makers move faster. There are 300,000 businesses that use Microsoft Dynamics applications and 10,000 Microsoft Dynamics reselling partners worldwide.

The Ariba Network leverages cloud-based invoicing, supplier discovery and spend management services and an online trading community to drive collaboration and efficiency in business-to-business ecommerce. Companies use the network to transact more than $300 billion in commerce annually, and it's growing rapidly. [Disclosure: Ariba is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP (NYSE:HPQ), for example, now uses Ariba to sell $1.3 billion in orders over the Ariba Network annually, changing game of automation for IT orders and fulfillment, said Ariba President Kevin Costello on the Ariba main stage last week. Ariba, said Costello, provides a "neutral gateway" to extended enterprise business processes around supply chain and spend. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The new strategic alliance with Microsoft is a response to trends like cloud computing and the convergence of enterprise applications, social media and communities. Microsoft and Ariba are seeing more organizations looking beyond the four walls of the enterprise, extending processes and systems to connect and collaborate more with customers, suppliers, and other trading partners.

"Business has officially entered a new era," said Tim Minahan, Chief Marketing Officer at Ariba. "It's social, it's mobile, it's collaborative and it's creating a major shift in how companies interact."

In other AribaLIVE news, Ariba announced stronger ties to ThomasNet (nee Thomas Register), bringing scads more product and detailed supplier data into Ariba Network. Ariba also now using Dell Boomi to accelerate integration with company systems for collaborative commerce, the company announced. And Ariba is also partnering with Accenture on commerce strategies and business process outsourcing (BPO) alliances.

Joins other partners

For it's part, Redmond is bringing Microsoft Dynamics AX to the Ariba commerce cloud integration table, joining other major customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) online and hybrid providers, such as Salesforce.com, SAP and Oracle. Ariba is confident that the broad-based business applications integration and automation will set the stage for its network to gain critical mass and become a de facto standard for supply chain transaction and business collaboration discovery services.

"By combining the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX with the world's largest business trading network, we can deliver a solution that enables companies of all sizes to connect with their trading partners electronically, helping businesses improve collaboration, grow their business with existing customers and discover new opportunities," said Doug Kennedy, vice president of Partners and Existing Customer Service Programs, Microsoft Dynamics.

For Ariba's part, the company is developing an adapter that will allow Microsoft Dynamics AX customers to connect to the Ariba Network. The Ariba Network offers cloud-based apps that allow organizations that share a business process to also share the technology that drives it. The network also offers a community of partners, as well as best practices in community-derived intelligence in areas like unique analytics, preferred financing and ratings.

With Microsoft joining the Ariba Network partnership gaggle, Ariba now has all major CRM and ERP providers tied into its collaborative commerce cloud. I would also definitely expect more Microsoft applications synergies with Ariba.

Updated P2P

At LIVE, Ariba also updated its Ariba Procure-to-Pay offerings, allowing users to create and deploy easy-to-search and access catalogs through which employees can find the goods and services they need and purchase them in compliance with preferred vendor agreements. The user experience looks and feels very much like Amazon.com. But it's clearly more than just a slick interface.

The new catalog search and comparison capabilities in Ariba Procure-to-Pay certainly make it easier for buyers to find precisely the products they're looking for, and also secure the best deals available. But the larger value comes with the budget monitoring and visual workflow features which allow all permissioned stakeholders to see where requests stand, and to be able to adjust processes on the fly to suit dynamic business needs. What's more, the expanded set of tools helps drive compliance with specific corporate purchasing policies.

These are building blocks to the larger networked effect or faster, automated and scalable business transactions across all types of suppliers, users and types of business. And the net effect of that is to change business substantially.

"The Networked Economy effect is far more transformative than we can imagine," said Vivek Kundra, former US CIO, and currently executive vice president at Salesforce.com, an AribaLIVE keynote speaker. Hard to argue with that, based on Ariba's growth and user adoption.

Source: Microsoft Teams Up With Ariba On B2B E-Commerce Front