As the market for collaboration tools picks up—with more companies looking to do business electronically with their suppliers—the issue of interoperability is becoming more important. Seamless communication will be especially vital over the next four years when dollars spent on the Internet will increase 37 times, says Lenley Hensarling, senior director at Denver-based J.D. Edwards & Co., a provider of collaborative applications. Many vendors and their customers, however, are using different software packages, he notes.

"We looked at the number of vendors offering products and found there is no accountability for solutions ownership," Hensarling says. "There are different sets of packages for every vendor and it leads to longer implementation cycles."

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