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i2 unveils B2B relationship software

The software maker debuts new versions of its business-relationship software tools, designed to automate business processes for online exchange users.

i2 Technologies debuted new versions of its business-relationship software tools Thursday as the company continues its push in the business-to-business and supply-chain sectors.

The Dallas-based software maker unveiled i2 TradeMatrix Design and Manufacturing Collaboration 5.1--part of its Supplier Relationship Management product family--at the Planet2001 High Tech Industry Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. The technology is designed to help manufacturers collaborate on product designs before they build and sell their goods online.

i2 also said it is teaming with IBM to deliver joint services and technology to help suppliers and buyers in the high-tech industry collaborate online. Building on a partnership the companies started in March 2000, IBM and i2 will promote and implement the software and services.

The release of the business-relationship software comes at a time when the success of business-to-business exchanges and marketplaces has started to rely on the amount of collaboration and relationship-driven applications and services the Web sites provide.

Public marketplaces have struggled to increase participation on their sites. New York-based research company Jupiter Media Metrix released a study Thursday that found buyers are more likely to use business-to-business marketplaces and exchanges if they offer business relationship-building software on the sites.

Generally, collaboration and relationship-building software automate the business processes that lead to an online transaction, like contract negotiation, sourcing and demand-monitoring applications. The tools can even help build and maintain supplier and buyer relationships after the initial transaction has taken place.

For instance, i2's Design and Manufacturing Collaboration 5.1 offers materials-billing data, approved manufacturer and supplier lists, and contract negotiation tools.

Pricing for the new software was not made available.