Community-Driven, Open Source Solution for B2B Transactions (Aug. 1, 2009) — A new open source Web 2.0-inspired solution for building and managing business relationships online, promises to level the playing field for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

b2bThe Open Negotiation Environment (ONE) platform is designed to overcome many of the limitations of existing business-to-business (B2B) electronic marketplaces and internet trading platforms that are run by large corporations.

“The ONE platform serves the interests of all players, creating a level playing field where companies of any size can sell goods and services, negotiate contracts and build business relationships,” explains Luigi Telesca, a researcher at the CREATE-NET research centre in Italy.

As an open platform designed with users’ interests in mind, the ONE system aims to fulfil that neutral role. The platform allows companies to set up either private negotiations between specific partners or public negotiations open to all.

Users, be they small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking for partners to create a virtual organisation for a tender bid or a company seeking suppliers for a new project, sign up for an account and are able to start negotiations via the platform with other companies immediately.

Using a web browser they can establish their own business network, access public negotiation processes, such as offers and requests for goods, services and relationships created by other members, or be invited into private deals.

Users also have the option to create and customise their own collaboration/negotiation models using innovative modelling tools. Templates for different negotiation models – different types of auctions, for example, or partnership structures – can be downloaded and easily adapted to their specific needs and requirements.

Trust is further boosted by a friend-to-friend reputation system that improves upon the ratings systems used by the e-commerce websites such as eBay. It allows users to gauge the reliability and trustworthiness of potential partners, while minimising the potential for malicious attacks on users’ reputations.

Unlike eBay or B2B marketplaces such as Ariba, there is also no single company managing the platform, which operates instead across a peer-to-peer (P2P) web services architecture in which many different users can operate network nodes and information is stored securely on decentralised servers. It is up to users to generate and manage their own negotiations without third-party involvement, akin to the user-generated content creation, collaboration and information sharing that is the backbone of the Web 2.0 era.

“Most B2B solutions out there at present are licensed and are too costly for SMEs to implement, or they have been created by a single corporation so it can deal with its suppliers, many of which are SMEs. The car industry is a key example of the latter model,” Telesca says.

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