Australian organisations fail pre-Y2K data transport planning

Up to 90 per cent of Australia's medium size organisations have failed to integrate data transport requirements into their planning as the spectre of the Year 2000 problem approaches.

According to Sterling Commerce executives, the diversity of data transport requirements and file types, growth in mobile computing and rising corporate electronic commerce strategies is fuelling the problem which could see many organisations suffer from costly and inefficient information flow.

Brian O'Doherty, Sterling Commerce's Australia and New Zealand regional director argues: "In a networked world, you as an organisation are going to have to connect to lots of different (customer and business partner) applications." He said if you ask an organisation: "What's your data movement strategy? Typically, they don't have one."

And fortunately for Sterling Commerce, the situation represents significant growth opportunities for the company with O'Doherty predicting its annual growth will reach 60 per cent this year, up from last year's growth effort of 50 per cent.

While Sterling already has significant reach into Australia's top 500 companies through its electronic commerce and data integration offerings, executives said the "great unwashed" companies it plans to reach are the smaller organisations generating around $10 million p.a.

Not only that, Sterling Commerce stands largely unchallenged in its chosen field of operation. O'Doherty described the company's competitors as "small backyard operators".

Stephen Burke, Sterling Commerce's manager of international product marketing, Asia Pacific Operations, said an organisations ability to integrate external into an organisations sales order and financial systems is fundamental to the growth of electronic commerce. "For us right now, it's a perfect time to go out and talk about Y2K problems," Burke said.

He said Sterling Commerce will focus on the business to business side of electronic commerce where organisations need a single solution to address a range of data transport requirements. "There is a fundamental requirement for robust and reliable remote communication," O'Doherty added.

O'Doherty also said if a company has a good custom-built human resources system and a SAP financial package running in parallel, it ultimately needs to provide data integration between the two systems. "We can help stitch them together."

In addition, an organisation must integrate a range of data formats entering an organisation's system from different business partners or customers to ensure its electronic commerce strategy becomes a viable and efficient proposition, O'Doherty said.

The latest product offering Sterling Commerce will use in its data integration strategies is CONNECT:Remote. Launched yesterday, O'Doherty said this communications package is ideal for the data transport requirements of the remote sales force. It's use of "Queued Event Architecture" allows it to minimise remote connection time to the corporate network by compressing data to travel along narrow routes (typically 28.8 kbps) to the user.

According to the company, it uncouples application use from communication and administration events such as data exchanges, software distribution and email. O'Doherty claims in a single remote connection, the Windows NT-based product routes application driven data to a central site, while central site data is moved to the remote system to perform remote system management tasks.

Pricing for CONNECT:Remote starts at $10,000.

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