Microsoft, InfoImage Deliver Digital Dashboard

FRAMINGHAM (04/25/2000) - After a year and a half, Microsoft Corp. CEO and Chief Technology Architect Bill Gates' vision of a "digital dashboard" came to fruition Tuesday as the software giant and InfoImage Inc. released freedom 2, a corporate portal for end-users.

Digital dashboards are designed to help people work more efficiently by consolidating information from disparate data sources, Microsoft officials said. That information -- including corporate databases, ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, and the Web - is then presented in a unified desktop view.

"It's really Bill Gates' vision for how products and services could be combined to create a portal for end-users," Microsoft Group Product Manager Bart Wojciehowski said. "The level of demand [for the digital dashboard] caught us a bit by surprise."

To meet that demand, Microsoft partnered with InfoImage, a company Wojciehowski said has a great history in the portal market and a sophisticated product in the freedom line. The result, he said, is freedom 2.

"What customers are looking for is the ability to improve the decision-making process," said Randy Eckel, CEO of InfoImage. "We wanted to build an enterprise-capable product, and we did exactly that by building freedom 2 deeply embedded in the Microsoft platform."

At the core of freedom 2 are two Decision Servers, one for business-to-enterprise information and one for business-to-business information. The business-to-enterprise Decision Server, Eckel said, is used to identify facts, collaborate, and take faster action on decisions. The business-to-business Decision Server enables users to communicate with other servers regardless of location, he added.

"So freedom 2 not only effectively gathers information, but it lets users analyze it, collaborate on it, and take action on it," Eckel said.

Eckel also said that freedom 2 offers a high amount of XML support and includes advanced personalization features, collectively called Peripheral Vision.

"Peripheral Vision provides strong knowledge management applications that relate information to other information in the portal and personalizes it to the individual user, based on his identity," Eckel said.

InfoImage listed several companies already using freedom 2 to manage their business-critical processes such as comparing costs, improving communications, and sharpening decision-making capabilities. Among those companies are Mitsubishi Corp., Bestfoods, click2learn.com Inc., and Visioneer Inc.

"We wanted a high level of communication between persons within our dealerships," said Jim Peary, Director-Corporate Systems for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, in Bridgeport, New Jersey "Customizing data for the end-user was a big part of that."

InfoImage freedom 2 became widely available from the company on Tuesday.

InfoImage Inc., in Phoenix, is at www.infoimage.com. Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, is at www.microsoft.com.

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