Converge Inc. and Tonbu Inc. are each readying software to provide a richer collaboration experience when buying and selling goods electronically.
Converge this week will introduce an integrated suite of applications that enables companies to more efficiently manage the buying and selling of electronic components at its namesake online marketplace.
Tonbu next month will introduce technology called TCAP (Tonbu Collaborative Access Protocol) that speeds the integration of legacy database information into its hosted business-to-business collaboration platform, S2S.
The Converge applications add the capability to manage many of the business processes that need to occur after a buyer posts a request for quote or a purchase order on the e-marketplace run by the Peabody, Mass., company. Converge is the result of the merger between eHitex—the high-tech industry consortium formed by Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and others—and the NECX electronics exchange.
At the heart of the suite are four applications that are available now. Trade, Knowledge and Connect provide a variety of commerce mechanisms like auctions, real-time market information and analysis, and software and services for integrating trading partners systems. Move, developed with Celarix Inc., enables real-time logistics monitoring, alerting, workflow and trade compliance.
Two more applications, Plan for monitoring partner inventory and Order for electronic negotiations, are due next quarter.
Like Converge, Tonbu hosts its S2S collaboration platform. Tonbus TCAP technology is a mechanism that can read data from an application and determine on the fly if that application is compliant with one of the two major e-commerce protocols—Simple Object Access Protocol or Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning, or WebDAV. It then translates that data into a form that is usable by the target system, according to officials at Tonbu, in San Jose, Calif.
Enabling collaboration is well and good for big buyers that have a lot of clout with suppliers. But smaller companies still face difficulty.
Lewin Edwards, an embedded systems engineer at Digi-Frame Inc., checks component prices at online markets, but Edwards said he doesnt expect to be doing much electronic collaboration. For "purchasing, negotiating and selling, I have little confidence in [online markets]," said Edwards, in Port Chester, N.Y.