Business Web Exchange to Debut

SAN MATEO (03/16/2000) - Believing it has the potential to dramatically change the way companies start and expand their Web-based businesses, Inc. on Thursday will announce its Business Web Exchange, which can tie together a variety of Web sites to form interconnected businesses.

What the new technology does is replace the traditional model of building customized business-to-business applications -- which is the process of coding line by line -- with an approach the company believes is much simpler.

Line-of-business managers go to the Exchange to find exchange-and-publish Web-based services, which will be complete business processes wrappered in XML.

Without requiring any technical assistance, managers can "snap" these Web services into their b-to-b Web systems in order to automate the creation of customized and dynamic business Web marketplaces. Company officials believe this will slice months off the process as well as save IT shops million of dollars on customized Web development projects.

Several examples will be discussed at Thursday's San Francisco press conference, including an online auto exchange that can find and obtain a financial institution's car loan Web services and immediately offer financing for the purchase of new cars. Another example is an airline that can access an energy auction Web service and immediately find the lowest price for jet fuel.

Bowstreet officials believe that as companies find and access these added Web services, they will be able to scale their Web-based businesses almost exponentially.

"In b-to-b e-commerce and Internet trading exchanges, the billing function is absolutely mission critical to trading goods and services over the Web. I think we can offer b-to-b billng as a Web service that lets anyone conducting b-to-b e-commerce to easily monitor, track, and bill customers for their commerce activities," said Scott Swartz, president and CEO of MetraTech.

Company officials are expected to announce plans to build a community around the Exchange and reveal that 30 companies already have committed to publishing their Web services to the Exchange. Some of those companies include American Business Financial Services,,,, the Motley Fool,, and Nielsen/NetRatings.

The Exchange, which company officials claim is the Internet's first two-way b-to-b community, is expected to go live sometime during the second quarter of this year.

Once business managers blend together a variety of Web services they have acquired, they can then deploy them in a number of unique combinations to their business partners, suppliers, and users. Each of the Web services include all of a publisher's terms of use, which allows companies to expand their market reach and commercial horsepower without having to conduct any drawn-out negotiations.

Because the Web-based services are driven by XML, any company can almost instantly connect back-end systems with a partner's system and automate a number of business processes over the Internet without getting IT departments involved.

Along with the announcement of the Exchange, Bowstreet will also take the wraps off Business Web Factory 2.0. Version 2.0 will combine a blend of XML, directories, and patent-pending automation to offer up business Web capabilities, which taken together allow companies to scale thousands of b-to-b relationships quickly.

Company officials also will announce a free Marketplace Edition of Web Factory -- to be available through the Exchange -- that will allow companies to begin publishing immediately.

Bowstreet, based in Portsmouth, N.H. can be contacted at

Ed Scannell is an InfoWorld editor at large.

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