Designing Collaborative Systems a Key Focus of Next Month’s BizApps Conference

Redmond, Wash., August 24, 1998 — If there is one thing that’s increasingly clear in the information age, it’s that people need to work collaboratively to be effective. Unfortunately, collaborating on projects usually means mountains of paper — one brokerage house estimated that it used more than 7 million pounds of paper every year to distribute reports and information before installing a company-wide intranet.

At Microsoft’s Business Applications Conference, Sept. 9-11 in Las Vegas, software developers will learn how to construct collaborative systems to help corporations keep track of paper, people and processes — and preserve a few trees along the way. Designing collaborative systems is one of five key areas of focus at the conference, which is designed to help software developers integrate applications so they can help companies operate more efficiently.

“We talk a lot about a digital nervous system, and this conference really puts this concept into action,” said James Utzschneider, director of evangelism for Microsoft’s Application Developers Customer Unit. “There’s an enormous amount of information in any corporation. Collaborative systems ensure this information is shared by everyone and, as a result, gets turned into knowledge.”

Collaborative systems can assist companies in a variety of areas. For example, consider a manufacturing company reviewing a request for proposal (RFP). The manufacturing company receives a fax from a corporate customer containing an RFP for parts. A clerk scans the paper fax into the company’s computer system and routes it electronically to the sales department, where employees check the internal product database to see if the company has the parts. Sales then routes the order to the engineering department, where workers determine how much it will cost to respond to the request. Engineering then routes the request to management, which decides how much to bid. The request then goes back to the sales department, which sends a response to the customer.

In this example, the company also may have to check the status of several parts needed to fulfill the RFP. A collaborative system can ensure that every employee has up-to-date parts information by instantly distributing this information from the company’s mainframe database to employees’ e-mail folders. This ability also benefits the company’s sales and marketing employees, who can access the information from their desktop PCs, or from their laptops or hand-held devices while traveling to quickly determine purchase history, key contacts, and other useful information.

This is just one example of corporations using collaborative systems to turn information into knowledge that benefits their customers. The conference also will showcase how to design collaborative systems using the company intranet, allowing employees to share documents, calendars and contacts and to hold online discussions with other workers.

Several large corporations will demonstrate how they have successfully implemented computer systems that have made their businesses more efficient. Using examples from five tracks – Collaboration, eCommerce, Tracking, Business Intelligence and Line of Business – developers will be shown real-world examples and have the opportunity to discuss those examples with the people who designed and implemented them. Additionally, Microsoft technical experts will be on hand to discuss how to integrate new technology with a company’s existing systems.

Conference attendees will receive a CD containing a collaboration tool kit: sample applications, architectures, white papers and technical details on how to integrate collaborative systems with other company systems.

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