IBM, GXS Upgrade PIM Tools

As IBM and GSX digest their respective PIM software developer acquisitions, they are working to integrate the new functionality and help users better synchronize external data.

As IBM and Global Exchange Services Inc. digest their respective PIM software developer acquisitions, they are working to integrate the new functionality and help users better synchronize external data—and get new products to market quicker.

IBM, which acquired Trigo Technologies Inc. a little more than a year ago, announced earlier this month the latest iteration of its product information management software, Product Center 5.2, which is geared to helping manufacturers and retailers roll out new products faster. At the same time, Global Exchange Services, or GXS, which acquired Haht Commerce Inc. in January 2004, is adding to that companys product information software with its Product Information Manager, Retailer Edition suite.

Alex Schumacher, director of retail and consumer products at GXS, in Gaithersburg, Md., said that after the company acquired Haht last year, it found a slow adoption of data synchronization software "because users had very challenging internal data synchronization issues." In response, GXS developed PIM, Retailer Edition, available now, to let users integrate inbound product information from their suppliers into their customer-facing systems.

The Haht software provides data storage in a centralized location, the validation of product data against internal business rules, rules defined by business-to-business processes and partner-specific trading rules that let companies assign ownership to data. What PIM, Retailer Edition adds to that is predefined workflows that support new products.

A release expected at months end will add a standardized vendor portal so that as items enter a workflow, alerts and e-mails can be sent to vendors for missing or incorrect items. In October the company will release another update that addresses pricing and promotion management capabilities for retailers and suppliers, said Schumacher.

Separately, with this latest release, IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., has preintegrated Product Center with its WebSphere Commerce and WebSphere Portal suites to enable companies to share comprehensive product information—descriptions, images, packaging, promotions and pricing, for example—with partners and customers.

By adding WebSphere Portal to Product Center, users can gather and share information through a single interface. The information is stored in a central repository found in Product Center and displayed via the portal. By combining Product Center with WebSphere Commerce, companies can provide product data to consumers through a Web site or at a store location.

Chuck Coleman, director of product support systems at Corporate Express Inc., a large supplier of office products and services, implemented Trigos PIM software in 2001. Coleman plans to upgrade to Product Center 5.2 this spring.

"[The upgrade] will bring a performance boost, for one," said Coleman in Broomfield, Colo. "And it brings us officially into the IBM development arena with advanced workflow, which well be getting into."


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