Web Services for CRM

Firepond joins interoperability organization, making configurator Web services compliant

Minneapolis  October 29, 2002  Firepond, a provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software, today reported that it has joined the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) and is working to make its configurator application Web services compliant.

WS-I is an industry organization established in February 2002 to accelerate the development of common best practices for the usage of Web services in the development, deployment and integration of business applications.

The CRM provider said it is the first and, to date, only best-of-breed sales configuration supplier to join the organization, which already counts more than 150 software suppliers, enterprise customers and technology developers among its members.

"The goal of true interoperability can only be achieved with the participation of companies from a diverse set of industries," said Tom Glover, WS-I chairman. "We are pleased that Firepond has joined WS-I. Firepond's participation will help to ensure the deliverables WS-I produces will meet the real world interoperability needs of businesses."

Firepond is currently developing an interface to its SalesPerformer Configurator that will make it Web services compliant. When complete, any other application that is also Web services compliant will be able to request a configuration service from the Firepond system and receive the output.

Potential uses include a manufacturing ordering system asking the SalesPerformer Configurator to check the accuracy of an order, thereby accelerating the order validation process and reducing a company's total cost of sales. Working in the opposite direction, a manufacturer's channel partners could configure an order on the Web with the configurator, which would then send a request to the manufacturer's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to retrieve available-to-promise (ATP) information and send this back to the channel partner, allowing them to immediately inform their customers of accurate delivery dates.

The Web services interface to SalesPerformer Configurator is planned for release in the first quarter of 2003.

"Firepond has long believed that the value of sales configuration systems increases exponentially when they work together," said Klaus Besier, Firepond's chairman and CEO. "For example, large manufacturing companies can enhance their total return on investment in a back-office enterprise resource planning system, such as SAP, by integrating it with our front-office sales configuration system."

Besier explained that, today, Firepond achieves this type of integration through bi-directional "connectors" developed for the specific applications in question. Web services, however, hold the promise of enabling multi-directional connectivity between different applications and across multiple platforms.

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