By Mark Gilbert, Gartner Analyst
As enterprises become more serious about business-to-business e-commerce and Web content management, they face the perplexing choice of which vendors and technologies to use.
Enterprises need their systems to interact with as many other enterprises as possible, yet few standards have emerged. Accordingly, enterprises often turn to vendors that offer the most flexible and comprehensive technologies.
For more than a year, Vignette and BroadVision have battled to become leaders in the expanding Web content management market.
Both vendors have turned to XML as a key technology. XML describes a grammar or framework within which interchangeable documents, such as purchase orders, can be built. Using XML technology, two enterprises can exchange documents and do business with each another even though they do not have the same applications; XML enables one system to translate what the other sends.
Another advantage of XML is that it enables Internet content to be reused for different output channels--PCs, WAP-enabled phones and interactive TV.
Vignette and BroadVision have made significant acquisitions involving XML recently. The acquisition of OnDisplay broadens Vignette's strong background in XML-based publishing applications, which are particularly focused on Web content management.
OnDisplay's CenterStage application suite brings strength in XML-based application-to-application integration and allows content aggregation and syndication. These capabilities will complement Vignette's other recent moves to broaden its e-business platform. The V/5 eBusiness Platform that Vignette announced in April 2000 facilitates the management of Web content and the deployment of applications across many media, including the Web, pagers, mobile phones and email.
Vignette's acquisition of OnDisplay neatly responds to BroadVision's acquisition of Interleaf, a vendor of electronic publishing systems, announced in January 2000. This deal gave BroadVision access to XML-based authoring tools and content management, multi-channel output control, and technology for wireless publishing.
It will take some time for both Vignette and BroadVision to integrate the XML technologies they have recently acquired. These vendors will likely also continue to fill out their business-to-business offerings with further development and acquisitions. The road that started at Web content management still has some way to go to reach business-to-business application integration.
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