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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Braid Systems Director Discusses Sales of Workflow Management Tools
  • March 11, 1999 (TOKYO) — Braid Systems Ltd., a U.K. company that sells workflow management tools that are customized for financial institutions, recently began marketing its products in Japan.
    BizTech talked with Richard Little, a Braid Systems director and sales manager, about the company’s strategy for selling in the Japanese market.

    Braid Systems is a vendor of system integration (SI) products that markets specialty software for the financial industry.

    In recent years the company has been growing rapidly and has added some financial industry heavyweights to its list of clients, including Merrill Lynch & Co. and Salomon Brothers (now Salomon Smith Barney Inc.). In 1998, Braid Systems posted sales of around US$30 million.

    In January, the company signed a contract with Information Services International-Dentsu Ltd., which enables the latter to act as a sales agent for Braid’s products in Japan. At least one Japanese company has already decided to use Braid’s tools for upgrading its workflow system. That new system will likely be operational in June.

    BizTech: Tell us about the products and services that Braid offers.

    Little: Braid offers a service in which we help banks and brokerages construct more efficient internal workflow systems. In more concrete terms, we supply a variety of software modules, including a messaging engine, called Messenger, and other related modules such as Gemini. Messenger comprises a link between the systems used by all the divisions that comprise an organization and the systems that are in common use throughout the organization.

    By making use of these modules to build new systems we are able to automate workflow processes that were earlier performed by people, thereby reducing both costs and the risk of settlement errors.

    BizTech: Other companies, like U.S.-based New Era of Networks Inc. (NEON) are also marketing similar middleware products and services. What’s the difference between Braid’s products and those of your competitors?

    Little: We offer specialist services for the finance industry. NEON’s products are used by financial institutions as well as companies in the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. NEON’s products are developed with all types of potential client companies in mind and, for that reason, when companies want to use those products for their specific applications in their own field, they often find that they must turn to outside consultants for help.

    Our products are different in that they are meant for businesses that operate in the financial sector. Braid has specialist consultants, who are familiar with both our products and the financial industry, employed within our company. In addition to selling our products, Braid tries to give its clients complete satisfaction by also providing them with consulting services and by doing the work to actually build the systems they want. We offer total “Straight-Through Processing (STP)” solutions comprising both products and services.

    BizTech: If Braid seeks to offer the same type of services in Japan it appears that the company must train many consultants.

    Little: That is the very reason we did the deal with Information Services International-Dentsu (ISI-D), to have them act as our agent here. Braid has built up a good reputation and we have substantial experience in constructing systems for clients in the financial sector. On the other hand, ISI-D is an authorized service provider for Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunications (S.W.I.F.T.), a non-profit foundation that runs networks for the exchange of data related to financial transactions.

    BizTech: Braid’s software modules, such as Messenger, are only available in Windows NT versions. Are there any problems concerning performance or expandability?

    Little: Braid has already supplied systems, most of them based on Messenger, to more than 50 major financial institutions. As yet, there have been no problems related to the performance or expandability of those systems. Also, Braid has a good relationship with Microsoft Corp.

    Braid receives plenty of technical data on Windows NT from Microsoft, which helps us to further develop and expand the functions of Messenger. No major problems will arise regarding our software.

    BizTech: UNIX servers are popular with Japanese financial institutions and some users really do believe that with Windows NT problems arise with performance and expandability. Does Braid have any plans to release UNIX versions of its software?

    Little: No, we have no plans to offer UNIX versions. Braid thinks that Japanese users will be satisfied with our systems based on Windows NT.

    BizTech: How many months does it usually take to deploy a system that incorporates Messenger?

    Little: Around six or seven months. I’m not able to reveal the name of the company, but we have already secured our first Japanese customer. The system for that client is scheduled to go into operation this June.

    (Yasuaki Sato, Staff Editor, BizTech News Dept.)

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