IBM Tuesday said the acquisition of a small American software firm would assist its middleware customers struggling to get a clear view of their own product information.

The company said its purchase of Trigo Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed sum would be completed by the end of the second quarter. Trigo, based in Brisbane, Calif., is a four-year-old company that has been working with IBM since 2002. Last week it won the Beacon award for its Websphere integration solution at Big Blue’s PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas.

Trigo’s flagship tool, Product Center, combines product information as it moves through various stages of the supply chain and presents them to users in a consistent way. Tom Reilly, Trigo’s CEO, said customers have been driven to use Product Center in order to globally synchronize data between manufacturers and retailers and to comply with various industry regulations. The company already had many joint customer wins, including Unilever, which will benefit from the acquisitions, he said.

“”Our customers are looking for this announcement,”” he said.

Product Center will become part of IBM’s Websphere middleware solution, according to Big Blue’s general manager of industry solutions and business integration, Marie Weick. The company will indicate additional synergies between the two firm’s product lines after its second quarter closes, Wiek said, but Product Center has an obvious fit with IBM’s software.

“”It reflects the visibility into an organization’s true assets that customers are saying they need, not just for regulatory concerns, but for how they are managing product information,”” she said.

IDC Canada software analyst Warren Shiau said Trigo is an example of how vendors like IBM are creating architectures for independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop to.

“”An ISV comes along, takes some building blocks to come up with an industry solution provided by a larger vendor, builds out the niche functionality and in this case, I guess, they’ve been successful enough that IBM is going to buy them out,”” he said.

IBM recently reorganized its global sales force to sell its entire product line around specific vertical industries instead of selling specific sub-brands in its portfolio. Weick said Trigo’s products will complement its middleware and will expand IBM’s capabilities and approach to the business integration market in terms of how partners and systems integrators can leverage radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Reilly said Trigo has been working projects ranging from application integration to portals. With Unilever, for example, it has been helping taking information from 60 different enterprise resource planning nodes, consolidating it and presenting product data to thousands of retailers. Trigo’s clients often face the same challenges in this area, he said.

“”They invariably have inefficient processes and manual processes to deliver product information. What that results in is tremendous amounts of errors,”” he said. “”When they’re saying, ‘Price check on Aisle 7,’ it’s because it’s actually faster to get the information from the shelf.””

Shiau said Trigo could benefit from Big Blue’s muscle.

“”It’s a very specific market segment, which is key in mature market like this — to pick and choose your market — unless you’re selling out to someone larger who can support going across industry with it,”” he said.

Other Trigo customers include Albertsons, an American food and drug retailer, office supply firm Corporate Express and HP.

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