Enterprise resource planning giant, SAP AG, yesterday announced a strategic alliance with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) to embed the system integrator’s online business content into its R/3 applications. Under the agreement, R/3 users will have to pay around $32,000, depending on which D&B software module they require, plus an on-line fee every time they download information from the database. For that, they gain access to D&B’s database containing risk and financial information on over 50 million companies worldwide. The aim of the partnership is to enable SAP customers to make critical business decisions faster by having the necessary customer, partner and supplier information at their fingertips. A typical US company credit report costs around $30, while difficult-to-access information about businesses in foreign countries will cost anything from $80 or above per hit, officials said. Customers will also need a dedicated TCP/IP connection, an ISDN line or some other equivalent, for online access. D&B for SAP R/3 consists of two components, a customer (accounts receivable) solution and a supplier (accounts payable) solution, both of which cost $32,600 each and are designed to be integrated into SAP’s R/3 Financials application. Currently, D&B for R/3 only accesses regional information including, among other things, financial data, risk and scoring information, business demographics, payment information and public records. US customers can access data on more than 11 million US businesses while European customers can download information on around 17 million businesses. Users can also search data on subsidiary organizations from within the parent company’s records and the entire database is updated continuously – more than 950,000 a day – as company information changes. The service allows customers to pull down data, from a simple pop-down menu within R/3, and proliferate that information throughout the whole company, said Dave Venonsky, business development manager, strategic partnering services, SAP America, you could gain access to Dunn’s data in the past, but it wasn’t seamless. The service was typically set up on a separate, standalone PC or console so information couldn’t be shared company-wide. As well as providing on-line access to D&B’s data, the systems integrator is also offering what it calls data rationalization services. These are designed for companies that haven’t yet set up their R/3 system and which want help organizing and streamlining their data. Additionally, once the information is loaded into the R/3 system, each customer and/or supplier is assigned a unique number, known as the D-U-N-S Number. Dun calls this the company identifier and by offering it to SAP customers, it says it hopes to create a de facto naming standard in ERP, CRM (customer relationship management) and other enterprise decision-support systems. Release 1.1 of D&B for SAP R/3 supports SAP R/3 releases 3.1 and 4.0. D&B for SAP R/3 is initially offered in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The next release, 1.2, is planned to support SAP R/3 release 4.5 and will be rolled out to additional countries later this year. D&B data rationalization services are available in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Canada. A spokesperson for D&B said the agreement with SAP wasn’t exclusive but as yet, the company had no plans to make announcement about alliances with other partners.