Xfy gets the nod from IBM

Japanese XML vendor JustSystems announced Tuesday that its document-based composite application Xfy has been tested and approved for Ready for IBM Retail Integration Framework status.

The IBM Retail Integration Framework uses open standards from the Association for Retail Technology Standards, Open Application Group Integration, and Global Standards to ensure smooth communication between services, information sources and business processes in the retail space. Platform-independent vendors can offer retail-based solutions, and gain a partner in IBM in the process.

Xfy is geared toward retail managers that require real-time information in their documents and need an interface that can process data from many different sources. “It unites disparate information from across the enterprise, whether it’s structured or unstructured,” said Jake Sorofman, senior vice-president of marketing and business development. “The problems come when the documents are static — you need dynamic documents that are constantly updated.”

This can help avoid efficiency and liability issues, as the real-time aspect of the application helps retail workers stay current. They can also check on a variety of factors, such as profitability, shelf life, and throughput.

Sorofman said that the application can be seen as a less intensive — and cheaper –alternative to a full-blown business intelligence suite. The benefit of Xfy over BI, he said, also comes back to reducing the number of steps. He said that business intelligence generally requires a collection of information in a data warehouse before it can be analysed or ported out. “We leave it in place and access it in real time without that extra step of aggregating the information,” said Sorofman.

This tilt toward more service-oriented architecture and real-time information is on the rise in the retail sector, according to a study by Forrester Research’s application development and infrastructure research group vice-president Randy Heffner. The Enterprise and SMB Software Survey for North America and Europe (Q3 2007) and the Enterprise Technology Adoption Survey for Asia Pacific (Q4 2007) found that 24 per cent already “use an enterprise-level strategy for and commitment to SOA”, while another 27 per cent use it selectively, without a clear strategy. Eighteen per cent plan to start using it in the next year.

According to the report SOA Adoption: Strong Similarities Across Verticals, “Retail survey respondents reported below-average use of SOA in all four of usage scenarios in our survey. The biggest difference was for internal integration, where retail was 11 percentage points below the average. Retail survey respondents reported about an average rate of enterprise-level commitment to SOA.”

Retail SMBs’ use of SOA is growing at a slower rate than enterprises’: “2008 plans have SOA adoption among retail SMBs falling from 18 to 31 percentage points below retail enterprises.”

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