Level 8 Upgrades AI Solution

Adds support for .NET, XML, Web services to application integration software; wins Bank of America

Princeton, NJ  December 20, 2002  Software company Level 8 Systems has rolled out version 5.1 of its flagship solution for multiplatform application integration, adding support for Microsoft's .NET architecture, XML and Web services, as well as a wizard-based toolset for integrating new and legacy applications across the enterprise.

The solution provider also announced that Bank of America has signed up to use Level 8's Cicero software.

Level 8's solutions address the business problem facing many large enterprises that want to modify their existing applications to take advantage of new technologies (such as the Internet) or to interact with other applications (such as wireless applications).

"Most software companies fail to recognize how difficult and expensive it is for large companies to change their underlying applications," said Level 8 CEO Tony Pizi. "When you think about taking all the applications that companies have run with for decades and trying to modernize them so that they can interact with the Web and new communications channels, there ought to be an easier way other than wholesale rewrite or modifications."

Cicero "wraps" applications and allows them to be integrated, Pizi explained. For example, one Level 8 client, a bank, operated a network of call centers around the country, each of which typically handled a couple of services for the bank. For example, West Coast and East Coast customers had to phone different call centers for service, and a single customer looking to address different issues with the bank  say, a question about a mortgage and a query about a checking account  had to call multiple toll-free numbers.

The bank's fragmented application base had grown organically over time as new software was added over time and as the bank offered new services or acquired other banks. The system proved expensive to operate, and moreover the bank wanted to improve its customer service levels. Level 8 used Cicero to integrate 12 separate applications to create a unified desktop and to integrate them with new telephony services, alleviating the bank of the need to rewrite the applications.

Now a single customer service agent can handle any of the questions that previously were handled by multiple call centers, providing a more efficient customer service operation for the bank. Another example of the benefits: a customer address change need only be entered once rather than multiple times in various applications.

The provider's new Cicero Studio, including in the Cicero 5.1 solution, is intended to improve the productivity of Level 8's Cicero systems integration partners by offering a wizard-based toolset for integrating new and legacy applications. Both Studio and 5.1 support Microsoft's .NET architecture, XML and Web services.

Studio allows a Cicero workstation to perform as both a .NET Web service provider and a .NET Web service consumer. The application provides wizards designed to integrate existing Web services and enable them to interoperate with other applications.

Level 8 asserts that this added capability can help extend the functionality and lifespan of existing enterprise technology investments by integrating legacy applications across a wider range of platforms and architectures with Web services, without the need for large investments in middleware, application reengineering or backend information technology architectures.

For call centers, Cicero enables Web service requests to be integrated as another contact channel, providing the tools, wizards and processes needed to integrate service requests into the human agent's workflows. In addition, XML object routing, secure third-party peer and presence services such as Instant Messenger, groupware, collaboration and video integrate with other Cicero-hosted applications at the agent workstation, across the enterprise and outside the company's firewall.

Level 8 currently targets call center operations across industry verticals, including in the financial sector and among outsourced call center operations.

In addition to rolling out the new solutions, Level 8 announced that Bank of America has deployed the Cicero software as an application integration vehicle for its integrated desktop project for the bank's customer service centers.