Integrating business technologies

According to Bill Reedy, vp of business integration at IBM Software (Somers, N.Y.), the world is in the midst of a "digital revolution" that is of the same magnitude and significance as the Industrial Revolution. E-commerce, he says, is a manifestation, and the Internet is a communication device.


According to Bill Reedy, vp of business integration at IBM Software (Somers, N.Y.), the world is in the midst of a "digital revolution" that is of the same magnitude and significance as the Industrial Revolution. E-commerce, he says, is a manifestation, and the Internet is a communication device.

The dizzying array of new and forthcoming technologies can seem overwhelming, especially since so many of them are or soon will be necessary to run a successful business.

If sorting through all the new "breakthroughs" seems daunting, imagine trying to integrate all those different tools into one seamless system!

Impossible? Not necessarily, says Mr. Reedy. What's needed is a business integration architecture, a network through which all the different pieces of hardware and software can communicate. This is not an easy task, because not everything "speaks" the same language. Just getting two or three pieces of hardware to communicate effectively to each other can be difficult enough, let alone a building or multiple buildings full of them.

In order for a business, and especially an e-business, to run smoothly and optimally, this must be accomplished somehow.

Evolution and revolution

Mr. Reedy estimates that by 2003, the amount of revenue generated by e-commerce will total $43 billion (U.S.) in the business-to-consumer area, and $1.3 trillion in the business-to-business area.

Some companies now forming have no traditional assets to speak of. These "virtual companies" are banking on information as their greatest asset and building their customer bases through "mind share" as well as market share. Get the idea into the mind of the customers and they will come—that's the idea behind the marketing of true e-businesses.

Integration is of utmost importance to these types of businesses. If the order processing system does not link smoothly to the order fulfillment system, the business will never succeed.

Mr. Reedy speaks of a concept called "straight-through" processing—a system in which a command is only sent once and only received in one place. Redundancy is eliminated through universal application connectivity. All hardware and software are linked to a central hub which acts as a translator between all units. The command is sent into the hub, processed, and directed to the appropriate end-point in the correct format through a router.

Straight-through processing can speed up processing time and eliminate confusion and unnecessary manpower. But most importantly, it can reduce errors and improve customer satisfaction.

Networking resources

How, then, does a company go about integrating everything into one system? The key lies in the network, of course. Getting as many elements as possible to communicate over one network is the goal.

The following web sites provide information on networking technology:

  • Data Communications Home Page:

  • Yahoo!'s listings on communications and

  • Network Buyer's Guide:

The following web sites provide information on companies that specialize in networking and business integration:

Also, be sure to visit the Control Engineering Online Networks and Communications channel, which is full of information, news, products, and updates pertaining to networking in the Automation and Control industries.

Author Information

Laura Zurawski, web editor

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