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IBM Acquires Trigo To Extend Integration Products

IBM agrees to acquire Trigo Technologies Inc. in a move meant to strengthen IBM's software for gathering and managing product information across retail supply chains.
IBM on Tuesday said it had agreed to acquire Trigo Technologies Inc. in a move meant to strengthen IBM's software for gathering and managing product information across retail supply chains.

IBM expects to complete the deal early in the second quarter. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Privately held Trigo, based in Brisbane, Calif., sells software that can draw product information, such as price, location and description, from multiple information technology systems and store it in a central repository. From there, the data can be shared with a company's customers, partners or suppliers through a portal. The software also can deliver product data to a point of sale device for price checking, for example, or a customer call center.

Trigo is strong in the retail industry, and its customers include Royal Philips Electronics, Staples, Sony and Unilever. IBM plans to fold the company, which has 150 employees, into its business software division.

Trigo has been a long-time partner of IBM and shares some customers, including Unilever, Marie Wieck, general manager of industry solutions and business integration for IBM, said in a teleconference with reporters.

Trigo is a good fit for IBM because it's products can help the Armonk, N.Y., company expand its software's capabilities for targeted industries, such as retail, IBM officials said. Trigo's product information management software will be integrated with IBM's DB2 Content Manager and WebSphere Portal, Business Integration and Commerce products.

The product integration will give each company capabilities they didn't have before, Andrew White, analyst for Gartner Inc. said. Trigo's Product Center is typically used underneath multiple enterprise resource planning systems, synchronizing data moving among the business applications.

What Trigo doesn't have is the integration software needed to share this product data with suppliers, partners and customers for electronic commerce, White said. This is a capability IBM will be able to provide.

IBM, however, may find that there's just as much business in data synchronization inside a corporation, as over the Internet.

"There's just as much business going on fixing the inside stuff, as the outside," White said.

The deal is similar to Global Exchange Services acquisition earlier this year of data synchronization specialist Haht Commerce, the analyst said. The question now is how competitors Sterling Commerce Inc. and Inovis Inc. will build out their technology in response.

Because Trigo's software can draw data from multiple sources, it will be useful in the retail industry's adoption of electronic tags to track cases and pallets of goods from warehouses to stores. Radio frequency identification technology includes readers that captures product data from tag chips and sends it to warehouse management systems. Selling RFID technology and services is becoming big business for information technology vendors.

Driving RFID adoption are initiatives by major retailers to start using the technology with their largest suppliers in 2005. Those retailers include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Albertsons Inc. The U.S. Department of Defense has also announced a similar initiative.

In acquiring Trigo, IBM gets technology that also supports standards for product information sharing among suppliers and retailers, including those set by the Global Data Synchronization Network.

"In the business integration landscape, itself, we really don't see any direct competitors in terms of the capabilities that are classically represented in an EAI (enterprise application integration) portfolio," Wieck said.

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