Canadian logistics technology specialist Descartes Systems Group (DSG) aims to spur growth from Asia this year through a strategic expansion of activities in the mainland. This follows a restructuring of operations amid the economic slowdown. DSG co-chief executive and president Manuel Pietra said the company opened a new office in Shanghai last month to strengthen its business development initiatives across Greater China. The company also opened an office in Tokyo last week. Based in Ontario, DSG has recently forged partnerships with global information technology systems integrator EDS and Standard Chartered Bank as part of a push into key Asian industries this year. Financial details were not disclosed. 'The Asia-Pacific market requires technologies that deliver rapid benefits and concrete solutions to business problems, while companies slash excess inventory and customers call for more responsive and reliable delivery,' Mr Pietra said. 'This will drive steady demand for our logistics management software and services in the region, despite the sluggish economy.' Located in more than 60 countries, DSG supplies its software packages to manufacturing, distribution and retail enterprises, as well as carriers, freight forwarders and logistics service providers. Its Global Logistics Services Network (GLSN) links the communications networks of more than 6,000 companies, providing logistics processes and real-time business information between and among trading partners. DSG helps companies tightly align their providers of transport services - whether air, ocean, truck or rail carriers. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers can then better track inventory, more accurately determine costs, and give real-time arrival estimates to customers. The company is named after Rene Descartes, the 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician and scientist credited with establishing the foundations of analytical geometry and modern philosophical thinking. He developed the concept of X, Y and Z co-ordinates, used to locate a point in two or three geometric dimensions. Carrying that legacy, DSG helps enterprises such as Ericsson and Sun Microsystems to map points in their supply chain. This enables them to manage inventory, delivery of goods, and activities of field service personnel while monitoring third-party transportation and logistic providers. In a study last April, the ARC Advisory Group named DSG a market leader for transportation management systems in Asia. Its main competitors include i2 Technologies, the Manugistics Group and Logility. Under the terms of the EDS-DSG agreement, EDS will offer and provide implementation services for DSG's logistics management systems to enterprises and their extended supply chain throughout North Asia and China. 'We look forward to working with DSG to deliver industry leading logistics solutions to help Chinese companies improve both their efficiency and productivity,' EDS China president Alex Wong said. Mr Pietra said DSG was moving to extend its logistics expertise to the financial services sector through its alliance with Standard Chartered Bank. DSG and the bank have formed a global business development initiative that includes joint marketing and sales activities through B2BeX, an integrated trade, finance and logistics platform powered by DSG's network-based logistics technology. B2BeX delivers supply chain, logistics connectivity and messaging to Standard Chartered's enterprise customers and their trading partners on a global scale. BrBeX is located at www.scb2 bex.com, which is linked to DSG's GLSN infrastructure. John Hammond, Standard Chartered Bank's senior product manager for corporate and institutional banking, said B2Bex offered 'an Internet-based, end-to-end supply chain management solution designed for importers and exporters faced with the complexities of cross-border trade'. 'B2BeX helps eliminates the many inefficiencies of current paper-based trade processes.' Mr Pietra said DSG was keen to double the business it generates in Asia this year from about 10 per cent last year. DSG last month secured a large contract with Watsons Water, which operates Hong Kong's largest distilled-water delivery fleet. With many enterprises in North America and Europe trimming their IT expenses, DSG moved to streamline operations last year by centralising corporate functions and laying off 120 employees. For the quarter to October 31, it posted total revenues of US$17.5 million.