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Promote seamless integration or find your product relegated to the dusty back room of an old-tech museum. Analysts say that's the choice facing front- and back-office apps vendors, as businesses attempt to build fluid and responsive application infrastructures.
Personalization and self-service application vendor BroadVision Inc. says it's up to the challenge: Next week the company will unveil integration tools, created by leading middleware vendor webMethods Inc., that will let businesses integrate back-end systems with its InfoExchange Portal product. Dubbed BroadVision Integration Services, the tools come with a variety of pre-built adapters for back-end products, including Baan, J.D. Edwards, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, and Siebel Systems enterprise resource planning and customer-relationship management software. Depending on the integration choices businesses make, employees may be able to view human-resources data from an Oracle or an SAP application via a portlet in the BroadVision portal, for instance, while customers may be able to view order, inventory, or account status the same way.
Integration is particularly vital in instances where customer interactions "represent the start of a series of value-chain processes," Aberdeen Group analyst Stephen Lane says. But the integration process is not only complicated by technical issues. Says Lane, "The complexity of such initiatives applies not only to linking applications but more importantly, to business-process alignment reengineering, change management, and a host of other nontechnology factors."