Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 43 seconds

Sean Feeney, President and CEO of Inovis provided this From-the-Top perspective on his company.

Image What is the current focus of your company's business?

Feeney: Inovis provides global business community management solutions – in the form of software and services – to meet the technology and business requirements of companies of all sizes. Inovis' solutions provide compliance to partner requirements (i.e. supplier or provider can comply with customer's processes to support commerce), and also drive new efficiencies for their business with automation, global connectivity and flexible deployment options, including on-demand, hosted applications or on-premise solutions.

Image How has this focus changed in the last 2 years?

Feeney: Inovis' focus continues to evolve based on ever-changing market requirements. As the supply chain, in particular, grows in strategic importance to global trade and overall business profitability, Inovis continues to deliver solutions that provide visibility and automation for these global trading communities. The changes that our customers face in managing global communities are driving the way Inovis is innovating and delivering expanded and enhanced capabilities to rapidly move trading partners from static, inefficient manual communication to electronic and automated connections. These connections are the foundation for powerful business community management capabilities that will drive increasing value to companies that are engaged and enabled – regardless of where they are in the world.

The other change is the proliferation of new documents, new process and the growing need to deliver real-time communications and actionable intelligence around activities not traditionally part of the supply chain. These new business communities are requiring hybrid connectivity – point-to-point (one-to-one relationship) and network-based (one-to-many and many-to-many relationships) to deliver the required ROI and maintain a competitive advantage in a global economy.

Image What are your current initiatives?

Feeney: Inovis continues to focus on building out our community management applications. Our recent investments have been focused on ensuring that companies can enable lower-tier (smaller) suppliers rapidly via Software as a Service (SaaS). Key capabilities have been built on the Inovisworks platform for an integrated portal solution to deliver enablement via partner compliant webforms and event management solutions that provide deep and valuable visibility into activity across their business community.

Image How has the market for EDI changed with the impact of the Internet?

Feeney: The Internet has raised the stakes for how companies interact with each other and how, as consumers, we interact with companies we choose to do business with – whether it's researching ratings and prices for a car or electronics, paying bills or viewing statements or invoices or even interacting with customer service across retail channels. As consumers, our experiences create expectations for how electronic communication can make us more efficient and how "value-added" services can be built off of that communication foundation (i.e. a great user interface or dashboard, the ease of downloading music into a fully integrated application and device or whatever your favorite online experience).

And we take those expectations to work. So people are more aware of how the Internet and similar electronic connections can shrink the size of the world in terms of the global supply chain activity (i.e. doing business in real-time, virtually and literally anywhere in the world) and 24x7x365 customer service and access to global markets. It also creates demand for a seamless end-user experience that puts everything we need within a mouse click on a single screen – regardless of the complexity of connections, inputs, data formats or whatever else that lurks beneath the surface.

Specifically, the biggest change is that EDI is no longer a type of document, but a process for a business. Growth in complementary XML standards and deployments are being driven by the pervasive nature of the Internet. Today, organizations can leverage secure file transfer solutions for large volume files which rich content and not impact their traditional transaction flow. The internet has also made if possible to deliver and manage your business communities in a self-service mode regardless of where you are or what time it is – so to that end EDI has changed from a "local time zone" set of activities to being 24x7x365.

The reality is that even though EDI has been around for decades, there is still a significant growth opportunity for creating basic electronic connections with entire trading communities. Many business communities today still rely on manual processes, faxes, phone calls, spreadsheet reconciliation or worse. What EDI created and still offers today is baseline communication, just as a simple Internet connection is a baseline. What are valuable are the communities that are built on that foundation and the value-added capabilities (user interfaces, dashboards and business process alignment) that will really be the future of business collaboration and EDI or whatever form that takes.

Image What are the greatest challenges for your customers?

Feeney: Compliance and enablement are the top to we hear consistently. Many large organizations are challenged with securely governing their trading communities and effectively meeting the service levels required by their trading partners. All of that negatively impacts revenue and margin for their business. The other item is rapid enablement. As more communities require advanced demand signal strategies, more tiers must be enabled to ensure the ability to meet regional, local or global demand requirements in real-time.

Image How are you helping your customers address these challenges?

Feeney: Inovis delivers on-demand and software solutions which meet the compliance requirements and provide the flexibility to support each companies own community management needs. Our products and services provide alerting and visibility tools which offer the ability to avoid compliance issue with proactive notifications.

Image Who should pay for testing?

Feeney: Testing fees vary by community and is effectively the choice of a company for how they want to implement their community. Testing is required to ensure effective community integration and drives valid content to eliminate interruptions for each company's business. Inovis works with customer organizations to package online and software packages that are fully compliant to minimize the cost for every organization and accelerate the time to benefit.

Image How do you categorize 'good' testing versus 'bad' or useless testing?


Good Testing: Testing supports the capabilities of the partners and business requirements of the community manager. Testing should be done to manage the whole lifecycle of a transaction, not just a single document and Inovis works to ensure our customers understand that end-to-end testing is vital to production success.

Bad Testing: Manual testing is perhaps the least effective testing process and creates the potential for production issues. To that end, any testing process which does not support the full transaction lifecycle may not adequately address the needs of a company.

Image What is your stance on the eC-BP organization and tenets?

Feeney: eC-BP provides a needed voice with in the eCommerce community that provides visibility and awareness to industry trends and best practices that help drive increased value through a pragmatic approach, which most EDI professionals know is an effective way to deliver automation.


Last modified on Thursday, 03 May 2007
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Scott Koegler

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