Information rules: BroadVision's 2001 roadmap

BroadVision unveils simple, coherent technology structure for manageing enterprise Web content in its 2001 technology roadmap.

SINGAPORE - If the Net is about anything, it's about information. And, although it sounds like a corporate mantra, it's about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

Is it any wonder then, that when moving processes onto the Web becomes the paramount activity of information technology, it is the guys who are closest to the content side of the business who are in the driving seat.

Would you employ a CRM tool for your business? YES

Yup, content management systems and CRM solution companies - which have been in the limelight because of the Web - have given the whole e-business industry its reason to be.

A case in point, BroadVision Inc., which unveiled its 2001 technology roadmap at a media conference Wednesday.

The company had posted 11 consecutive quarters of profit but stumbled recently when its earnings fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Last year, the company expanded into the e-procurement space and that had drawn attention because the company had long been associated with CRM and its sell-side solutions.

What was little noticed, was the co-development of an application with HP which the partners initially called Knowledge Management.

The application was meant to be a workplace management tool that will collate, systematize and manage all the information that an enterprise have.

It was released in September last year, and the companies changed the name to InfoExchange Portal, and decided to push it as one of its platform pieces.

Within the second quarter of its release, it became the hottest selling item on BroadVision's list of products. A whopping 53% of BroadVision's last quarter earnings is estimated to have come from the sale of InfoExchange Portal.

The company claims that the sale of InfoExchange alone was greater than the sales of all the other software companies put together in the enterprise information portal space.

Nobody in Broadvision nor HP had expected the product to take off the way it did.

"We have expected it to do well," said George Wong, BroadVision's managing director for the Asean region, "but we didn't expect it to explode like that."

The sale of InfoExchange in the last quarter amounts to roughly around US$70 million. Cost of deployment ranges from US$300,000 to millions depending on size.

Truth is, InfoExchange sells a simple but coherent vision of what the Net can be and what managing information through the Internet is like.

The core of the InfoExchange is the enterprise portal, a digital environment put up on the Internet that allows customers, partners and employees to access all the information within an organization.

Around the core platform are a host of applications and functions to control and manage who gets what information and how.

The portal, as such, will act as a convergence point in which all types of business relationships can be managed.

It's simple, and it all hangs around a cardinal piece, an enterprise information exchange portal. The reason to put all your businesses online becomes apparent.

"When you're dealing with transformation, you can't just look at one point, you have to look at the whole picture," said Brett Ho, BroadVision's vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific and Japan operations. "And if you're the CIO committed to this transformation, what do you do? How can you find a partner who can help you do this?"

"And starting from a very simple enterprise exchange portal--that's exactly why our InforExchange Portal has become such a hot selling cake," he added, "because it makes sense, when a CIO looks at this, it makes sense."

There are many ways to justify the decision to go online or to build a technology system, but in the end, it'll be the CIO or CEO who have been dealing with content, or information all along, that will make the right call.