Hologix Seeks to Enable Sophisticated Negotiations

SAN MATEO (04/10/2000) - WITH THIS WEEK'S launch of its Attricom attribute-based specification management software, Hologix Inc. aims to push trading exchanges beyond the realm of catalog-type products and their tendency to limit negotiations.

Attricom, intended for public trading exchanges, will enable negotiation based on customizable, defined attributes such as quality, delivery time, and features of the products or services, said Dan O'Neil, president of Hologix.

According to Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Va., the inability of marketplaces to allow attributes in the negotiation is one of the biggest problems in the trading exchanges.

"Everything's reduced to a part number, a price, possibly a picture, but there's not a lot of room for marketing," Willett said.

Catalog-based exchanges work well for simple products, but not for more complex products such as steel, textiles, chemicals, or even process industries such as plastics, according to Hologix's O'Neil.

"The first wave of e-commerce has been about catalog[s], or catalog[s] with parametric kinds of products -- office supplies, paper clips, furniture, that kind of thing. What we address are the more complex products that really require a specification to be created to represent [them]," O'Neil said.

Hologix will also target virtual products and services such as travel, advertising, and utilities.

The attribute engine, combined with negotiation capabilities, will enable businesses to trade online as they do in the real world, O'Neil said. "The way that people really do business is that they negotiate around a whole range of things, not just price and availability," he said.

Both suppliers and buyers should benefit, according to Current Analysis' Willett. "It'll help buyers in being able to evaluate things like quality, when it can be delivered, what the inventory is, attributes of the company, [its reliability], and reputation," he said.

Hologix Inc., in Phoenix, can be reached at www.hologix.com.

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