News Briefs and Product Shorts
HiT Partners with Funambol to Connect Databases with Cell Phones
Data access middleware provider HiT Software is partnering up with Funambol to connect server-side data with mobile phone apps. The two companies last week unveiled a partnership to use HiT's AlloraDB Connector to serve data to Sync4j, Funambol's mobile application server, and an implementation of SyncML, a new XML standard for mobile applications. The companies say the integration will pave the way for several types of solutions, including synchronizing personal organizer data, such as telephone numbers and calendar items, between any relational database and any mobile device, as well as more advanced applications, such as sales force automation. "With 2 billion cell phones worldwide, the global mobile market offers extraordinary opportunities for HiT Software," says Giacomo Lorenzin, HiT Software's CEO. "The SyncML standard is a good example of how XML technologies can be leveraged to provide better interoperability between applications and devices to create solutions with profound impact on our quality of life." The Java-based Allora product provides bi-directional transformation between XML and 19 relational databases, including DB2/400.
Company Glad it Didn't Move Off MAPICS
Here's this week's trivia question: "I'm a Minnesota-based manufacturer of snowmobiles, ATVs, utility vehicles, and motorcycles. I pulled in $1.9 billion last year, but my total IS expenditures were less than 1 percent of that. Who am I? " If you answered "Polaris Industries," give yourself a pat on the back. Five years ago, the company was considering moving off the MAPICS ERP system in order to grow its capabilities. Instead, the company stuck with the product, which is now owned by Infor and sold as Infor XA. Today, Polaris credits sticking to MAPICS with its low IS spending-to-revenue figure, and an outright saving of $20 million compared to implementing another ERP system, according to Polaris CIO Bill Fisher. "Infor provided a solid platform and proven performance and enabled us to implement many projects that would not have been possible if we had changed vendors," Fisher says. Specifically, Fisher says his company's use of Enterprise Integrator and System Link software from Infor were key to moving away from 5250 greenscreens and providing better integration with other applications. "The Infor XA software and the IBM iSeries platform on which the solution runs are the key reasons that our IS costs run far lower than 1 percent of revenue," he says.
Devon IT Adds 256 Bit AES Encryption to Application Gateway
Devon IT bolstered the security of its NTAVO remote access appliances with a new release announced last month. The NTAVO appliances are rack-mountable, Linux-based IBM xSeries or BladeCenter server that uses various security and authentication mechanisms to provide a safe connection from desktops and thin clients to a variety of back-end servers, including iSeries, mainframe, Unix, Linux, and Windows servers. With NTAVO version 5.2, the King of Prussia, Penn., company has added several new features, including support for AES 256-bit encryption, an enhanced administrator interface a "seamless" windows mode for Windows applications, support for Unidriver printing, enhanced integration with Active Directory (including support for aged passwords) and support for 24-bit colors, smart cards, and audio with Windows Terminal Server 2003.
Bassett Croons for Global's Spreadsheet Server
Bassett Furniture Industries is the latest OS/400 shop to opt to view its ERP data through Global Software lenses. The $235-million company from Bassett, Va., implemented Global's Spreadsheet Server for J.D. Edwards as a way to provide real-time view into financial data stored in its ERP system using Microsoft Excel. According to Brian Lunsford, a controller with the publicly traded furniture maker, Spreadsheet Server has saved the company time and money. "Before, we were manually keying the data. Now we have real-time visibility to the data with fewer opportunities for mistakes," he says. Global Software, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., has about 1,000 customers, primarily among companies running the J.D. Edwards, BPCS, Movex, Infinium, Jack Henry, Oracle, and SAP enterprise applications.
PFSweb Offers 10 Tips for Securing E-Commerce Business
Even if the upcoming holiday season turns out to be a dud for retailers, they can be assured of one thing: overall online retail sales will be up dramatically from last year, as it was the year before that and the year before that. Forrester Research last week forecast online sales of $18 billion in the United States, a 25 percent increase from the $14.4 billion logged last holiday season. But online shoppers are a notoriously fickle bunch, and keeping them coming back to your Web site is not a guarantee. PFSweb, a full-service fulfillment house for companies that don't want to deal with logistics, knows a thing or two about keeping goods flowing smoothly between cyberspace and airspace, so they came up with a handy top 10 list for satisfying the holiday hordes. Here's a summary of the list:
1.) Honesty is the best policy, so get rid of hidden charges and murky return policies.
2.) Give accurate status updates to keep skittish cyber-dwellers constantly aware of their orders.
3.) Provide excellent customer service. This is easier said than done, but a good start would be deep-sixing that automated form-letter response to e-mail requests.
4.) Build efficient Websites that don't use technology for technology's sake, and keeps your brand front and center.
5.) Leverage features such as guided selling, customization, and personalization, such as gift-wrapping or customized gift card inclusion.
6.) Reward loyalty by giving them discounts or free gifts. Repeat customers are tough to come by on the Web.
7.) Consider security paramount to your credibility. This tip is self explanatory, and could also be labeled "Get Secure or Die Trying." 'Nuff said.
8.) Maintain privacy by being upfront about how you plan to use personal data from site visitors.
9.) Distinguish advertising and sponsorships from objective content.
10.) Promote your brick and mortar locations, and encourage them to stop by to more closely examine a product or pick it up.
Manhattan Associates Joins UPS Ready Program
Companies implementing the warehouse management system (WMS) from renowned OS/400 WMS developer Manhattan Associates can feel good about their prospects for hooking into the computer systems of UPS, a major international carrier. Last week the two Atlanta companies announced Manhattan Associates' participation in the UPS Ready Program, which assures Manhattan Associates WMS users (most of which pick the OS/400 version to install on their iSeries) that they can get rapid updates for their WMS directly from UPS' computers for things like calculating shipping charges, adding special charges, producing manifests, and uploading new zoning charts and rate tables. Jeff Cashman, Manhattan Associates vice president for business development, says the joint program will translate into reduced time and cost during WMS implementations. "Increased visibility to shipments and inventory means managers and supervisors can make more informed business decisions and provide greater customer service," Cashman says.