Among last month's flurry of mergers and acquisitions, one in particular that manufacturers should take note of is Ariba Inc.'s plan to acquire SupplierMarket.com. A leading business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform provider with some 20,000 suppliers connected to its online marketplace, Ariba will further extend its network to encompass SupplierMarket.com's 14,000 registered suppliers, with heavy emphasis on direct-materials sourcing. SupplierMarket.com's user base includes manufacturers, buyers, and suppliers of a wide variety of materials, including nuts, bolts, bearings, fasteners, housings, and casings. "Our customers are small to midsized manufacturers, and most of them are both buying and selling over our Web site, which was launched last October," says Asif Satchu, chairman and president of SupplierMarket.com, in Burlington, Mass. "We believe sourcing is the next strategic high ground for B2B -- it is fundamental to our customers and partners as we work together to build liquidity in the B2B economy," says Keith Krach, chairman and CEO of Ariba, based in Mountain View, Calif. "Sourcing represents the single largest opportunity for organizations to realize savings in procurement costs and to impact supply-chain operations," adds Tim Minahan, research director for the e-business practice at Aberdeen Group, an IT research firm.