Hoping to become a showcase for the combination of intranet and client-server technologies, Dun & Bradstreet Software will in May release its first Java applet designed to extend the use of its SmartStream Distributed Enterprise suite of accounting and business operations software.
Designed in partnership with Java creator Sun Microsystems, this first in a planned series of applets will let local and remote users fill out purchase requisition forms from their browsers and submit them to the purchasing department.
Instead of having to install a full SmartStream client on each user's desktop, the applet lets any user with a browser make purchasing requests from electronic corporate and vendor catalogs. The forms are then routed to, processed, and approved by the SmartStream Procurement back-end software that runs on the server and delivers the purchase orders directly to the suppliers.
An intranet-based application like this has the advantage of lower hardware requirements for the client because the user needs only a browser instead of the full client package. In addition, it means less work for IS installing and maintaining that client's software and lower learning curves for everyone involved because the user gets access only to a limited set of features.
D&B started putting its intranet strategy in place in December, when it built HTML support into its SmartStream Decision Support query and reporting module so that executives' corporate reports can be output as Web pages instead of just documents on plain paper. The company also moved its SmartStream Assistant help desk to the Internet in January to provide a two-way, real-time link between customer installed sites and D&B support personnel.
D&B's competitors, however, including SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft, are also building features to take advantage of intranets into their client-server applications, each afraid to miss the next wave of distributed computing technology. D&B hopes that its collaboration with Sun on Java applets like this one will draw attention away from its competitors.
The company did not specify pricing for the Java applet.