Sterling Commerce has claimed that its new systems integration tool will dramatically speed up the process of linking back-office processes.
Sterling Integrator is a business process management platform designed to automate the flow of information between employees, legacy applications and business-to-business environments.
The modular tool is built on an open architecture and turns the integration problem on its head by approaching it from a business process management rather than a technical level.
It allows customers to map business processes using a drag-and-drop capability and a graphical user interface, and identifies how data needs to move and be manipulated throughout the entire process.
Roy Lee, senior marketing director for EMEA at Sterling Commerce, explained that its aim is to reduce inefficiencies and improve the accuracy of data from internal and external systems.
"It is about making it easier to do business with others by removing manual processes and automating business processes with the trading community," he said.
"Customers are looking to increase the value of their existing investments and they're looking at business processes as a way to drive efficiencies.
"This also offers the opportunity for companies to open up some of their back-office processes to others, for example in a web page format."
Motorbike company Harley Davidson already allows its trading partners to validate stock via a portal managed by Sterling Commerce.
The tool offers native support for EDI and SML and includes out-of-the-box adaptors to existing applications including SAP, PeopleSoft, i2 and Siebel.
An adaptor development kit allows users or third-party integration experts to build adaptors for home-grown and legacy applications.
Sterling Commerce has also created predefined templates for generic business processes, such as purchase order processing and the web enabling of existing processes.
"We can allow companies to create new business processes one at a time," said Lee. "They don't need to do a big bang implementation.
"A big challenge of enterprise application integration is the amount of professional services required before companies see the business benefits.
"We've been able to significantly reduce that. We're talking a month to six months depending on customer complexity."
Pilot testing of the tool is already underway in manufacturing, retail and finance customer sites across Europe.
AMR Research reported that the overall supply chain management market grew 12 per cent in 2001 to $5.6bn, with expected growth of 13 per cent in 2002.
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