IPNet targets trading partners

IPNet Solutions Inc. rolled out its second generation of e-business products Monday, a line aimed at simply managing trading partners, no matter what their size.

The BizManager line of Java-based transaction delivery and trading management products is designed to allow companies to securely exchange business transactions depending on the needs of their business partners, said Colleen Edwards IPNet vice president of corporate marketing.

For example, the line supports EDI and XML as well as binary and flat files, she said.

"Eighty percent of business transactions are done using EDI, yet only 10 percent of companies have EDI capabilities," Edwards said. "Big companies are doing EDI with their largest suppliers, and the other suppliers are communicating with them manually."

To ward off this growing problem of connecting with smaller suppliers, IPNet offers a tiered approach for small to medium-size businesses.

The smallest parties that are now mostly using paper can upgrade to BizWeb, a browser-based offering that requires no software for the trading partners to install.

Larger companies can tap BizMail, a Java-based thin-client connectivity solution designed to connect small partners to trading communities. Or, companies can use BizConnect, a Java-based connectivity solution to enable companies to connect with larger hubsA trading hub becomes increasingly competitive as the number of trading partners that can connect to it grows, said Hollis Bischoff, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. While large enterprises can invest in sophisticated integration solutions, the bulk of trading communities consists of companies with limited technology and funding to implement EDI, he said. The solution provider that addresses the entire community solves this problem, he added.

The product line also offers a collaborative framework for forecasting supply and demand to optimize the supply chain by allowing partners to share valuable data. The BizManager line includes vertical specific transaction management solutions for companies in consumer products, retail and distribution, health care, energy and financial services industries, officials said.

The collaborative framework is designed to allow companies to address collaboration in a tiered framework, said Ted Smykla, IPNet senior vice president of products.

"The framework allows companies to begin to collaborate by just making information available to their suppliers," Smykla said.

"You establish criteria that says, 'For this category if our forecasts are within 10 percent of each other ... let's go with it.' If not, we can find out why you are manufacturing less than I am forecasting to sell. They can then begin to move up the collaboration ladder and ultimately start doing more formal collaboration."

The entire line of BizManager products will begin shipping at the end of February.

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