• October 10, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Plumtree Opens New Suite Doors

Plumtree Software announced the availability of its next-generation suites and the planned release of a new vertical application at its sixth annual Odyssey+ADC developer conference today. These, as well as a number of new product version announcements, mark Plumtree's continued focus on providing collaboration and integration alternatives after its acquisition by BEA Systems in August. The Plumtree G6 suites are built on the company's Plumtree Foundation framework, and are available in three versions, depending on the customer's needs: Plumtree Portal Suite, which includes rich portal development, content management, and analytics for large enterprise; Plumtree Community Suite, which organizes user communities around collaborative applications through workflow and publishing; and Plumtree Application Suite, an SOA for developing and deploying composite collaborative applications with back-end integration. "This year's announcements ... signify the next stage in the evolution of our platform from a portal for assembling and presenting information to a foundation for creating process-driven applications to help solve complex, extended-enterprise business challenges," CEO John Kunze said. G6 will enhance businesses' ability to create new applications, collaborate both inside and outside the organization, and deliver information in a unified format. Collaboration G6 lets users interact directly with the project management system via email, creating discussions, notifications, and project documents in the email client. Bulk publishing functionality serves as a staging system for gathering materials that will be distributed to large audiences. Customizable project design gives administrators a coding-free means of shaping the project interface to best suit the needs of the project and the users. The suite also includes automatic compression and download of large files and groups of documents, saving time and bandwidth. Also announced at Odyssey was the Plumtree High Performance Store Management Application (HiPer) for retail businesses. Still being tested, HiPer will include several features that make it attractive to the brick-and-mortar crowd. HiPer will have a store manager directive system based on corporate mandate and performance goals; customized store performance metrics; direct news and feedback channels between store managers and corporate HQ; best practices sharing; and a content system for product information, company policies, and procedures. "Overseeing store operations can be a major challenge, especially when there are multiple lines of communications flowing from corporate headquarters to individual stores or franchises. Compounding the problem is high employee turnover, making it difficult for stores to share best practices and understand execution priorities and for headquarters to track store performance," Kunze said. "We recognized the need in the marketplace for a packaged retail application to help solve these business challenges. The portal framework, with its natural ability to integrate information, IT systems, and people, allows organizations to easily deploy new applications that help facilitate collaboration and improve business processes--ultimately increasing store operational efficiencies." Restaurant chain Applebee's International is leading the test project, which should conclude with the product's release this quarter. "Plumtree is one of the founding portal vendors, and this is the sixth generation of their technology. This is essentially a framework for building and deploying composite apps in a services-oriented architecture. HiPer is the first SOA built on that foundation," says Gene Phifer, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner. "Plumtree is broadening its horizons beyond the basic portal and is now targeting applications in the line of business. It's an interesting evolution, and we can expect to see a number of vertical applications from Plumtree." Phifer believes that recent acquirer BEA Systems also sees an opportunity. "When you're going head to head with IBM or Oracle, you have to differentiate yourself. Becoming an application vendor as well as a technology vendor is one of them." Related articles: Putting CRM in Context
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