Transcending E-Com Basics

IBM, Click Commerce, Agile and Cyclone aiming to extend B2B collaboration to more enterprises.

A group of developers looks to move companies business-to-business e-commerce efforts beyond merely conducting online transactions.

IBM, Click Commerce Inc., Agile Software Corp. and Cyclone Commerce Inc. are each working to bring B2B collaboration to more enterprises with new software and services.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., last month rolled out Version 5.1 of its WebSphere Commerce Business Edition, a software suite for facilitating B2B transactions that require functions such as requests for quotes, trading partner agreements and order handling.

WebSphere CBE 5.1 embeds Lotus Development Corp.s Sametime instant messaging and QuickPlace online meeting software, which allows buyers and suppliers to negotiate terms and discuss specifics of an order in real time. The software creates a virtual environment where documents can be shared and collaboration can take place, even in the midst of a transaction.

Version 5.1, due Dec. 15, also supports a number of connectors to back-office systems that allow customers to more easily integrate their back-end systems and connect externally to IBM.

Separately, Click Commerce aims to ease internal as well as external collaboration with its Collaboration Manager. The software, which the Chicago company unveiled last week, lets an enterprises divisions and suppliers work together on design, sourcing, quality and manufacturing issues.

Agile, of San Jose, Calif., last month announced the upgrade to its Agile Anywhere supply chain collaboration software. Agile 7.5, geared toward the new-product introduction process, helps reduce errors by improving time to volume and increasing responsiveness to customers, resulting in a reduced time to market, officials said.

For its part, Cyclone Commerce, a trading community management vendor based in Scottsdale, Ariz., last month said it will connect the back-office systems of 10 of a customers suppliers to the customers enterprise systems in a week. If it doesnt meet the "10-in-1" guarantee, Cyclone will refund its $50,000 to $75,000 fee.

Cyclone sends about 16 suppliers of Do It Best Corp., in Fort Wayne, Ind., a daily activity report that lists every item in the warehouse as well as the previous days inventory. This enables suppliers to run that information through demand forecasting software and self-manage Do It Bests inventory.

James McLauchlin, electronic data interchange analyst/coordinator at Do It Best, said Cyclones connection time is very quick. "Its because they really focus on the transport piece," McLauchlin said. "Its amazing how simple it is, relative to what it does."

The caveat is that for deeper database-to-database collaboration, Cyclone may not fit the bill, McLauchlin said.