Automating the Supply Chain

IBM, GXS ease B2B data synchronization.

IBM and Global Exchange Services Inc. are each leveraging data synchronization technologies gained through recent acquisitions to aid manufacturers in automating supply chains.

IBM plans to incorporate software from Trigo Technologies Inc., which it acquired last week for an undisclosed sum, into its WebSphere Business Integration middleware portfolio to provide data synchronization and PIM (product information management).

Trigo also expands IBMs approach to integration by enabling users to extract data from disparate applications and put it in a central repository for sharing with partners and suppliers, said IBM officials in Armonk, N.Y.

IBM plans to expand Trigos capabilities across the 12 vertical industries it is targeting with its ISV partner program.

Data synchronization is a critical issue for Unilever plc., a consumer packaged goods manufacturer that operates in 150 countries and runs about 300 systems that use and store product information. The company tapped Trigo, of Brisbane, Calif., 18 months ago to develop a place to stage product information, ensure the datas accuracy and enable the data to be shared externally.

Putting product data to good use
  • IBM is making Trigo technology part of its WebSphere integration family to provide data synchronization, PIM and content integration capabilities
  • GXS is integrating Hahts PIM software into its Global Product Catalog and Enterprise System integration software; adding radio-frequency identification capability; enhancing ability to connect new B2B constituents and to connect data to data pools

"Our big challenge is to get critical mass with the information through the network. Thats really about retailers and manufacturers pushing information into this [data synchronization repository], exploiting it and getting critical mass," said James Jackson, vice president of IT strategy and innovation at Unilever, in London. "[IBMs acquisition of Trigo] is a step forward in global data synchronization."

Meanwhile, GXS finalized its $30 million acquisition of PIM software developer Haht Commerce Inc. this month and has tripled its Haht development team. This year, GXS, of Gaithersburg, Md., will add capabilities bought from Haht, of Raleigh, N.C., into its business-to-business exchange software, combining Hahts Commerce Suite with GXS Global Product Catalog platform to enhance data synchronization within the 65-million-item catalog, officials said.