Connect Inc.Mountain View, Calif.

OneServer electronic-commerce software

Talk is cheap . . . talk, that is, of money-making opportunities on the Internet. But one online pioneer, Connect Inc., is allowing enterprises to do more than talk the talk of Internet commerce. It's giving corporations the end-to-end software application needed to walk the walk -- transact money-making business on the Web. Connect's OneServer software allows large enterprises to engage in secure commerce on the Internet and provides prebuilt objects of browsing, adaptive recognition (a Web site welcoming the buyer back) and response (an ability to pitch products to past buying habits), catalog management, registration, transaction processing, and credit verification. James Strohecker, director of interactive communications, says these objects are modifiable or scalable to meet a company's needs, and, equally important, they hook cleanly to existing enterprise data, such as accounts payable and receivable. "No company wants a standalone Internet commerce," he says. Companies want electronic commerce to be incremental revenue along with all the regular sales channels, not apart from it. In mid-November Connect had 14 OneServer clients with eight Web sites live for business, including PhotoDisc Inc., which is selling stock photography to ad agencies; Reader's Digest Assn. Inc.; Time-Warner Cable's Dreamshop; Ameritech; and Fruit of the Loom's ActiveWear division, which is looking at $100 million incremental revenue this year using OneServer. Strohecker says that OneServer, which starts at about $100,000, gives clients a full end-to-end application. Other vendors, whom he acknowledges possess good technology, provide either front-end or backend objects, but have yet to deliver the full-stream application and custom integration. Putting together such a package involved a number of partnerships and technology expertise, including Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif. (Oracle7 database, on which rides an additional million lines of Connect code); RSA Data Security Inc., Redwood City, Calif. (five layers of built-in security, which can be further upgraded with any firewall protection); Fulcrum Technologies Inc., Ottawa, Ont. (text-search engine); VeriSign Inc., Mountain View, Calif. (user verification and encryption); Sun Microsystems Inc., Mountain View (built-in Java protocol); and likely Netscape Communications Corp., Mountain View (Connect is working on bundling Commerce Server). Strohecker says companies could spend multiples of time and money to assemble these modules themselves, hire programmers to write and update code, and try to keep up with new versions of all the individual components, but with OneServer they get that capability out of the box, as well as scalability and ongoing support, through integrators with which Connect closely works. "We'll get you live in 30 days, minimum," declares Strohecker. He credits Connect's excellent programmers for overcoming whatever technical hurdles existed, but says the greater difficulties have been in getting client companies to define how they expect to make money with electronic commerce and to take more than a "toe in the water" approach to the Web. "It's been important for us to get in there and help them build an [electronic commerce] business model."

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