By its very nature, B2B collaborative ecommerce is complex and expensive. Transacting with suppliers, customers and partners can be carried out using a multitude of methods – some based on new standards, some rudimentary and ancient. And as the list of participants rises, the permutations of technologies,
standards and security choices that need to be supported can escalate towards the unmanageable.
It does not have to be that way, says Greg Vesper, chief product officer of Cyclone Commerce, a vendor of collaborative commerce software intended to simplify the creation and management of B2B trading relationships, and aid in troubleshooting when something goes wrong.
The company’s technology tackles that through two suites of B2B ecommerce products. The first, comprising the Activator, Interchange and Cyclone Central products, automates the establishment and management of secure ecommerce document exchange, whether that is EDI over the Internet, XML or simple binary document exchange formats. It also irons out the incompatibilities that will inevitably arise as a result of each partner’s different data, communications, technology and security choices.
Alongside that is a set of Value Chain Management Applications that packages the task of community building, format rationalisation and tracking technologies as ready-to-use applications.
The upshot, Vesper claims, is that organisations can quickly and economically establish trading links, adding new partners into their trading network in a matter of hours.
Quick and simple does not imply that Cyclone has been enthusiastically received by smaller businesses. Among its 1,000 customers are Whirlpool, Frito-Lay Procter &Gamble, Carrefour, Gillette and Pfizer.
Many of Cyclone’s original competitors have run out of steam in the B2B commerce market. The competition going forward looks more formidable: application vendors SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle, and B2B specialists such as Sterling Commerce.
The company is cushioned by $30.5 million in venture funding injected over the last three years. But the true test of its longevity comes may show in another metric: the four-year-old company, claims Vesper, is already profitable.