New boost for B2B collaboration

New software products are designed to connect companies and ease business-to-business collaboration Business-to-business (B2B) collaboration could be encouraged by the launch of several software products, designed to connect companies. Collaboration specialists Camstar Systems, Syncra Systems and Venetica are all launching new products, but integration problems could still limit B2B collaboration.

New software products are designed to connect companies and ease business-to-business collaboration

Business-to-business (B2B) collaboration could be encouraged by the launch of several software products, designed to connect companies.

Collaboration specialists Camstar Systems, Syncra Systems and Venetica are all launching new products, but integration problems could still limit B2B collaboration.

Camstar recently launched its Virtual Factory suite, designed to help companies share live production information with applications and business systems across the enterprise and the supply chain. Virtual Factory manages multiple locations, processes and companies, capturing data from the plant floor and sharing it with other systems.

Virtual Factory sits on top of InsiteLive, Camstar's core product, a manufacturing execution system that is housed within a single plant. Virtual Factory allows InsiteLive systems, as well as non-Camstar manufacturing automation systems, to communicate beyond an individual plant's firewall.

The product is already in use. Corning, a high-tech and fibre-optics manufacturer, is linking four of its plants using a beta version of Virtual Factory. Doug Anderson, chief information officer of Corning's specialty materials division, said no integration work would be needed. "With our old systems, it took a lot of hard work to make a change and test everything. Now we've got these tools [to automate the process], and the IT people at the factories can't get it fast enough," he said.

Camstar has acquired services integrator Unified Technology Group to provide support for customers.

Syncra Systems is looking at collaboration from another angle. The company is offering a collaboration tool accessed via the Internet, removing the need for back-end integration. Syncra Version 3.0 makes it easier for companies to collaborate online by enabling any type of data stream to be incorporated into the system, said Syncra.

Meanwhile, content integration software developer Venetica is poised to unveil the upgraded version of its collaboration software. VeniceBridge 4.0, available next month, is designed to make it easier for users to access and exchange documents, images and other unstructured, stored content that is stored throughout an enterprise. Web services support should help VeniceBridge to play a strong role in collaborative B2B, argued Venetica.