Microsoft Business Network Experiences Ongoing Momentum As Customers Connect, Integrate and Lower Costs

ORLANDO, Fla., March 22, 2004 — Microsoft Business Solutions today announced ongoing momentum and upcoming plans to expand the reach of Microsoft®
Business Network. The solution’s success and road map are being highlighted at Microsoft Corp.’s annual conference for North American customers, Convergence 2004: Microsoft Solutions Conference for Customers.

Since its launch in October 2003, Microsoft Business Network has experienced early adopter customer success. Mikimoto (America) Co. Ltd., for example, has completed its first phase of deployment and has successfully integrated multiple organizations into its community of trading partners, streamlining its connection with customers. Based on the positive results, Mikimoto America recently launched a broad community-building effort to connect to the rest of its customer base.

Microsoft also is expanding the reach of Microsoft Business Network to a broader audience of trading partners and has completed a proof-of-concept project to demonstrate the successful exchange of electronic data interchange (EDI)-based documents.

“It has been very exciting to watch Mikimoto America realize new and improved communications processes with trading partners through Microsoft Business Network,” said Julio deVillasante, group product manager at Microsoft Business Solutions. “And through the upcoming EDI connectivity, we are demonstrating our full commitment to continue to develop and enhance Microsoft Business Network, offering companies such as Mikimoto America even more affordable, interconnected software and related Web services that enable them to communicate with their customers and suppliers, integrate with business and productivity applications, and lower the cost of collaborating with their trading partners.”

Microsoft Business Network is a Microsoft .NET-connected solution that facilitates intercompany collaboration with several key software components, tools and community-building services. The components include connectivity options for trading partners of all sizes, a trustworthy Web services network, a library of business process templates, partner management tools, and support to help companies automate their network of trading partners.

Mikimoto America Expands Trading Community With Microsoft Business Network

Mikimoto America, a subsidiary of the world-renowned creator and distributor of cultured pearls, is using Microsoft Business Network to automate its ordering processes and to raise customer satisfaction levels through increased responsiveness, flexibility and availability of information. Since deploying Microsoft Business Network, Mikimoto America has realized a number of benefits. By streamlining the ordering process to make it faster and easier for both Mikimoto America and its customers, Microsoft Business Network saves Mikimoto America employees time they previously spent on manual sales processes, enabling them to focus on building more personal and productive relationships with customers. The solution also has helped Mikimoto America significantly reduce its order-to-cash cycle, allowing the company to increase its customer service standards and minimize manual sales process inaccuracies.

According to B. Sanny Rahardja, IT manager with Mikimoto America, the company is expanding its automated trading community by reaching out to 500 resellers. Mikimoto America expects at least 100 of those resellers to join within the next few months. In the future, the company also will leverage Microsoft Business Network’s upcoming connectivity with EDI value-added networks (VANs), enabling its users to send EDI documents to trading partners that do not currently subscribe to Microsoft Business Network and receive them in return.

“Microsoft Business Network has already proven itself to be a powerful tool for connecting our business community, which is why we are aggressively expanding our project to reach the majority of our customers,” Rahardja said. “With the upcoming addition of EDI and VAN support, we are confident that we will be able to efficiently interact with our larger trading partners, further streamline our communication processes and, ultimately, deliver a higher level of customer service.”

Microsoft Business Network and EDI: A Winning Combination

Working closely with Inovis Inc., a provider of business commerce automation solutions, Microsoft Business Solutions recently completed a proof-of-concept project demonstrating that Microsoft Business Network can successfully receive and send EDI-based documents. EDI is a standard that determines the way business documents are structured as they are exchanged between trading partners; VANs are the networks by which these documents are normally exchanged. Microsoft Business Solutions will connect with the Inovis:Access VAN for expanded connectivity and EDI managed services, offering these capabilities as a third-party service by the end of 2004.

During the proof-of-concept phase, EDI-based transactions were mapped for compatibility with Microsoft Business Network’s Extensible Markup Language (XML) messaging. The ability to send EDI-based documents via VANs, according to both Inovis and Microsoft Business Solutions, will allow Microsoft Business Network’s customers to expand their trading communities by successfully connecting to a broader range of businesses, regardless of their size, technical expertise and use of legacy systems. Microsoft Business Network and Inovis will address these issues by allowing small and midsize businesses to continue to trade EDI-based documents via a single connectivity point, regardless of the standards or networks the trading partners use.

“Giving Microsoft Business Network customers the ability to trade information with their EDI-based trading partners will prove itself a critical component of the customer’s value chain strategy,” said Ilaria Derr, president and chief operating officer of Inovis. “Together with Microsoft Business Solutions, we are committed to helping small and midsize businesses meet the needs of their trading partners, regardless of existing technology or communications infrastructure.”

About Microsoft Business Solutions

Microsoft Business Solutions offers integrated business applications and services that allow small and midsize organizations and divisions of large enterprises to connect employees, customers and suppliers for improved efficiency. The financial management, customer relationship management, supply chain management and analytics applications work with Microsoft products such as Office and Windows®
to streamline processes across an entire organization, giving businesses insight to respond rapidly, plan strategically and execute quickly. Microsoft Business Solutions applications are delivered through a worldwide network of channel partners that provide specialized services and local support tailored to a company’s needs.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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