Canadian Shipper


news, views and applications of new technologies (May 01, 2001)

SAP GOES TO THE TOP TIER WITH ITS PORTAL PLANSLess than a week after announcing its pending purchase of TopTier Software, SAP launched a major volley with its plans for the portal vendor.

The German giant is teaming with Yahoo! to launch a new company called SAP Portals. The idea is to combine Yahoo!’s services with TopTier’s portal technology.

The combined product and company will go head to head with niche vendors such as Plumtree and some well-known SAP adversaries such Oracle and PeopleSoft, which have each launched aggressive portal strategies of their own. Baan, now owned by Invensys, is also getting into the portal game. However, Baan’s strategy relies on TopTier’s technology, which doesn’t seem to be wavering even if TopTier is under SAP’s control, according to technology industry analyst AMR Research. In fact, Baan even shared the stage at SAP and Yahoo!’s big event in New York announcing the new company.

SAP currently uses TopTier as the drag-and-relate technology within mySAP. It’s TopTier’s technology running underneath mySAP that would grab, for example, a FedEx account number of a role-based user and drop it into mySAP.


Integration vendor webMethods will be playing a key role in i2 Technologies’ vision of what an efficient, well-run company will soon look like.

After signing a joint development and sales deal, webMethods has become i2’s integration vendor of choice. For the deal, webMethods is creating a business unit for i2 products to be staffed as plans are finalized.

The two companies already have at least 30 joint customers among webMethods’ 650 clients and i2’s 9,000 installations, according to technology market analyst AMR Research. However, WebMethods can expect face stiff competition from IBM, with its integration products, massive services arm, and long-standing relationship with i2.

“The one problem could be the scale of the job. With TradeMatrix, i2 has set a vision for supply chain connectivity that poses integration problems undreamed of in the old best-of-breed bolt-on days of Enterprise Resource Planning,” says AMR Research’s Amy Hendrick. “The promise is big, the payoff could be huge, but too much heterogeneity could leave users confused and with serious maintenance problems. Expect i2 to address these issues with detailed roadmaps for extended business processes.”


The authorities managing the St. Lawrence Seaway on both sides of the border have banded together to improve safety and efficiency by leveraging the power of the Internet and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

The Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. have launched a binational website (, designed to become the major source for all information related to Great Lakes Seaway shipping. The site provides environmental data, including water levels and wind speeds, shipping and navigation information, rules, regulations and official forms, and links to every organization, port and government agency involved with the Great Lakes Seaway system.

The site is being developed in three stages. The first, which provides links and a search engine, is available now. Stage 2, with dynamic information, will be launched in May. The final stage, which will include cargo matching, a cost calculator, and e-business capacity, will be ready by September. By then, shipping companies will be able to do almost all their business with the Seaway online, from finding cargo to fill empty vessels on their return voyages to obtaining the necessary clearance to enter the Seaway and paying their bills.

Also in July, the Seaway’s Traffic Management System will incorporate satellite technology in a new Automatic Vessel Identification System (AIS). Using GPS technology, vessels carrying the AIS transponder will transmit their location to the Seaway’s traffic control centres and to other ships in the waterway. The information will be used at the traffic control centres to plot the ship’s progress on a virtual map. In the meantime, information such as local wind speed and direction, water depth, ice conditions and safety-related messages will be compiled and made available to each ship’s captain.


Federal Express will be using software from TOP Image Systems Ltd., a digital information recognition and data capture solutions company, to process its international waybills.

FedEx will use the TiS automated data collection software at three sites worldwide, including its World Hub in Memphis as well as in Europe and Asia. The system will process up to 250,000 air waybills on peak days at the US site alone. FedEx is considering installing the solution at additional sites in the future.

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