REDMOND, Wash., June 28, 2000 — There may not be concrete to pour or carpet to lay, but the steps to building an online store are every bit as involved as building a
store. Regardless of the environment — virtual or physical — business managers still have to make decisions about store layout, merchandising, inventory management, back-office systems and so on.
And just as real-world construction draws on specialists to handle myriad details, so it is in dot-com development. To build an e-commerce Web site, companies depend on the high-tech counterparts to architects, electricians, plumbers and engineers. And they need high-quality building materials, that is, robust and reliable software and hardware systems. The objective is the same: building an infrastructure that fosters a thriving commercial business.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution in e-commerce, according to Chris Atkinson, vice president for Windows DNA and Web Services at Microsoft.
“Every online business operates differently, as a result of its unique customer base, product mix, business processes, supply chain, legacy systems, et cetera,”
“So while Microsoft focuses on delivering an unparalleled e-commerce platform with Commerce Server 2000 and Windows DNA, we rely on our peerless network of industry partners to customize, implement and extend the system for every conceivable customer variation.”
Windows DNA and Commerce Server 2000: the Foundation for E-Business Solutions
Commerce Server 2000 is the newest version of Microsoft’s e-commerce system and the offspring of the widely adopted Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition, which powers high-volume consumer sites such as Barnes & Noble.com and 1-800-FLOWERS.com. Commerce Server makes up the core functionality and framework around which a Web store or marketplace is built. It also is part of and fully integrated with Windows DNA, Microsoft’s platform for Web application development that consists of Microsoft SQL Server, BizTalk Server and other server products and technologies. Microsoft released the beta version of Commerce Server 2000 today at PC Expo; the final release is expected later this fall.
“We did a lot of rearchitecting to develop Commerce Server,”
“We enhanced the integration of the system’s components and incorporated more comprehensive extensions to Windows DNA, specifically for sell-side e-commerce.”
According to Atkinson, the main objectives for Commerce Server 2000 were to reduce the complexity and time needed to bring an e-commerce site online, to incorporate better decision-support and site-management tools, and to expand the built-in applications — in addition to working with ISVs to integrate market-leading functionality on top of the system’s core capabilities.
“Commerce Server is not about cookie-cutter site development,”
“It’s about building the reflection of a customer’s business online. We want to make it as easy as possible for businesses to differentiate themselves, implement a robust solution that can ‘survive success,’ and get to market quickly.”
Commerce Server Partners Are the Key to Customer Choice
Microsoft recognizes that its next-generation e-commerce platform — no matter how powerful — wouldn’t get much play without industry experts to extend, customize and implement customer solutions. Microsoft developers and marketing teams worked closely with industry partners during the development of Commerce Server 2000, preparing them for the forthcoming product and allowing them to deliver rich solutions and services by the time the system is broadly available.
Commerce Server partners offer various combinations of the following: application hosting, data center hosting, Web design, development, systems integration, hardware, and software component and application development.
“We have the largest set of component and application vendors, who are working with Commerce Server 2000 to extend the functionality as well as to offer the most implementation choices for customers,”
“This widespread collaboration around Microsoft’s e-commerce technologies creates strong product momentum, so when the product and add-on solutions are released, customers will have the greatest choice and flexibility from a buy, build or outsource perspective.”
Today, ISV partners announced the first four integrated products to extend the core functionality of Commerce Server 2000. Harmony Software Inc.’s Analytic Engine of e-Commerce provides key performance indicators in real time, giving managers critical business information to optimize the health and operations of their site. Interwoven Inc.’s Content Express provides a fully integrated content management solution. Knosys Inc.’s ProClarity extends business analytics beyond Commerce Server data, offering integrated data analysis from any data source throughout an organization. And Visual Insights’ eBizinsights CS delivers integrated business analytics through an advanced visual interface.
“When Microsoft selects a technology partner, they’re picking more than just a technical component to be added to the Commerce Server foundation. They’re building out and enriching an integrated customer solution,”
said Jeff Engelmann, vice president of product marketing and management at Interwoven.
“By collaborating with the best product and service providers in the industry, Microsoft is not only ensuring the best functionality integrates with its e-commerce platform, but is also providing a high level of customer confidence and satisfaction.”
Compaq Brings Dot-Coms Online With Fast Time-to-Profitability
Compaq Computer Corp. has a well-established record of implementing and extending the feature set of Site Server Commerce Edition, and has been involved in the development of Commerce Server 2000 since the initial technology release of the product nearly four years ago.
“A strong relationship with Microsoft translates to highly leveraged engineering collaboration,”
said Mary McDowell, vice president of the Industry Standard Server Group (ISSG) at Compaq.
“Our engineers enjoy a close relationship with Microsoft engineers, which facilitates the sharing of best practices and deep technical knowledge that comes from real-world customer experiences.”
Budding e-businesses can turn to Compaq for a wide range of e-commerce products and services that support Commerce Server 2000 and Windows DNA, including site implementation and management, customization and component development, and hardware and software systems integration. Compaq is already working with customers to develop solutions with Commerce Server, and to migrate existing Site Server Commerce Edition sites to Commerce Server.
In addition, Compaq announced a new program last week for e-commerce startups called speedStart, a collaboration with Microsoft and Intel Corp. The speedStart program helps customers get to market fast with a scalable, reliable e-commerce solution by streamlining the full array of services and systems that new Web ventures need, including access to scarce technical resources, proven platforms and infrastructures, and flexible financing.
A testament to Compaq’s responsiveness and depth of expertise, according to Jeff Lynn, vice president and general manager of Professional Services at Compaq, is the company’s ability to fully develop and implement high-volume B2C and B2B sites — including RadioShack Canada and BuyProduce.com — within 90 days, from start to finish.
“Companies deploying e-commerce solutions want to get up and running quickly with solutions that interoperate with existing systems and adapt easily to changing e-business needs,”
“Because of our longstanding relationship with Microsoft, as well as our extensive experience in developing, implementing and maintaining solutions on the Windows DNA platform, Compaq Global Services is a uniquely positioned services partner for Commerce Server 2000.”
Intuitive Analytics for Closed-Loop Site Management
Visual Insights develops e-business analysis software that collects and presents real-time and historic site data using patented visualization software. The visual interface of its eBizinsights product family is designed to enhance site managers’ ability to understand the relationships in their site data, make informed decisions very quickly and implement the appropriate response immediately — a process called
“closing the loop.”
Today, Visual Insights announced the availability of eBizinsights CS — the company’s new version for Commerce Server 2000.
“We’ve been working with the Commerce Server development and marketing team since early on to understand their concept for delivering a complete e-commerce solution and for enabling customers to build in enhanced closed-loop business analytics and reporting,”
said Michael Tatelman, vice president of marketing and business development at Visual Insights.
“We’ve had a tremendous working relationship with Microsoft and, as a result, we’ve been able to deliver right along with their release of the product.”
Because eBizinsights CS integrates directly with the Commerce Server Business Desk, site managers have a single
for monitoring site performance, analyzing the effectiveness of marketing promotions and determining the most effective merchandising and navigation strategies, according to Tatelman. And integration with the targeting and campaign management features in Commerce Server gives site managers unprecedented ability to fine-tune promotions or optimize business strategies in real time.
If, for example, a portion of the site was inaccessible to visitors on a given day, eBizinsights CS could instantly segment that population of users and use Commerce Server’s Direct Mailer to send them an e-mail message inviting them back.
“The notion of closed-loop analytics is really important,”
“The fact that we can develop a list of customers based on an insight in the data and in seconds turn that into a marketing program is state-of-the-art functionality.”
Content Management Application Speeds Time-to-Web
Content management capability is increasingly recognized as a necessity for accelerating time-to-Web and improving the quality of Web content — not only for building but for maintaining and expanding Web sites. So, one of Microsoft’s objectives was to offer a deeply integrated solution within the Business Desk management control panel of Commerce Server 2000.
When an e-business starts to take off and the site begins to expand, so do the number of files, the amount of data and overall Web assets. Concomitantly, the number of people who are contributing to the Web site grows and the frequency of change increases. The site also may employ increasingly sophisticated content personalization. Content management controls the entire publication workflow, from content versioning to approval coordination to fast entry of the content onto the site.
Microsoft selected Interwoven Inc.’s content management technology as best suited to amplify Commerce Server’s core capabilities. The two companies worked closely to create Content Express, an add-on specifically tailored for business users and the Commerce Server architecture. Businesses that adopt Content Express and need to scale their operations, for example to include diverse Web assets including application code, will be able to upgrade to TeamSite, Interwoven’s enterprise-class content-management solution.
“Our base content and functionality had to be mapped directly into the design framework of Commerce Server, so we spent a very focused effort with Microsoft to envision, specify, scope and then develop the exact interface requirements,”
Interwoven’s Engelmann said.
“As a result of our mutual development investment in Content Express, we have a highly capable, deeply integrated and differentiated product for content management.”
A Win-Win-Win Situation
“With Commerce Server and the Windows DNA platform, Microsoft has developed the premier, next-generation infrastructure for enabling e-commerce,”
said Visual Insights’ Tatelman.
“By concentrating on that integrated infrastructure, they’ve left a tremendous opportunity for point-solutions to be added from developers with specific vertical-industry or functional expertise. And by focusing on their strength — while opening up the product for third-party innovation — we can focus on ours.”
Microsoft and its partners may well see the rewards of their openness and collaboration, but the big winners are online companies and site managers who, with Commerce Server 2000 and Windows DNA 2000, can conduct business on the Web with the assurance that their infrastructure will empower them today and grow with them in the future.