B2B connections get automated

One of the thornier challenges of wide-scale business-to-business e-commerce is the amount of software integration work required to connect different business partners' systems.

One of the thornier challenges of wide-scale business-to-business e-commerce is the amount of software integration work required to connect different business partners' systems.

This week, startup Contivo will launch a service that integrates disparate applications by leveraging enterprise application integration software from company investors Tibco and Webmethods.

The Contivo eService includes a Java application that lets business managers establish the mapping between different applications' interfaces.

The tool then generates the connectivity code between trading partners' applications and creates a repository for business rules and data transformation. Companies pay a subscription fee for the hosted application based on the number of business processes.

Automated links are essential if trading hubs or digital exchanges are going to scale and get the volume of business, or liquidity, to succeed, officials said.

"For marketplaces to get a lot of revenue through e-business, transactions have to be sent automatically.

“Today that's not the case because we don't have automated electronic links for most transactions and business relationships," said Indra Mohan, CEO of California-based Contivo.

"The problem today is that it takes a lot of manual effort by skilled consultants to create electronic links."

Contivo estimates that a typical trading hub has 30,000 links and it takes a week, or 40 working hours, to manually code the interfaces for each link.

One analyst familiar with Contivo's planned offering said the service addresses the growing need for automated B-2-B connectivity that can scale.

"In general, if [Contivo] has a patented special sauce that does the correlation between different business models, that's a differentiator," from middleware vendors, said Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group in Boston.

"It comes down to do the underlying automated mapping and letting people work at the application level."

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