Company: WeybridgeCustomer: HoneywellSubmitted by: The Edge PartnershipDate: October 2000Honeywell Automated Systems and Controls is dealing with globalization, increasingly complex support issues and growing customer expectations by creating “electronic intimacy” through a customer extranet built with Webridge eBusiness Solutions.Honeywell IAC provides a broad range of open control systems, products and services to process industries worldwide, including continuous flow processing (of products such as oil and chemicals,) discontinuous processing (building discrete products such as cars) and batch processing (of products such as pharmaceuticals which are made in lots.) Customers include refining and chemical companies, power and energy companies, and pharmaceutical and consumer goods manufacturers.

Honeywell IAC has traditionally used systems consultants to create customer intimacy. They worked with major customers to deliver training, resolve issues and generally ensure their success with IAC products.In recent years, however, a changing business environment has made it increasingly difficult to maintain this intimacy. Decentralisation and globalisation of corporate accounts have made it more difficult to stay in contact with key people. A combination of increasing industrial sophistication and faster means of communications means that customers expect rapid online support for their large-scope project teams.Their first attempt at a customer extranet, built in 1998 for a refining and chemical customer, proved the value of the concept and the need for a better platform.

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Kirk Anderson, an IAC systems consultant for strategic accounts, says: “Because it was all HTML, we had a limited set of people who could post documents and it was becoming very time consuming.” Online information worked, but the time required to maintain even one customer site was too great. Enter Webridge.IAC needed a way to create more intimate relationships with strategic customers in order to ensure that their manufacturing processes worked continuously and well. They turned to Webridge, an acclaimed implementer of business-to-business websites and extranets worldwide, to create “electronic intimacy” with a highly flexible customer extranet site.The site was to host online meetings as well as providing a secure shared environment for each team where members could easily publish documents and other information without the need for time-consuming HTML coding.

In the longer term, the site needed to support online transactions such as the ordering and delivering of software.Webridge’s extranet platform allows document production without HTML, as well as reusable layouts which can create many custom websites from a single pre-defined set of pages. The Webridge Discussion Manager application creates automatically archived discussion forums with multi-level security. The Webridge ebusiness suite is fully compatible with all the relevant Microsoft platforms used by Honeywell IAC.Development of the Alliance Site started in March 1999, launching to the first strategic customers in October that year.

There are about 500 registered users and several thousand documents online. Each customer has a custom website where they can contact IAC, ask technical questions and use Microsoft NetMeeting to hold interactive meetings with project team members.Kirk Anderson points to the fact that customers can now get questions answered without picking up the phone: “We can post recommended solutions- customers just log in and search the database.”Customers can now access documentation, consult Honeywell experts online, and collaborate with Honeywell, their own customers and others in their industries to evolve best practices for their manufacturing applications.After six months, Honeywell’s Alliance Site is saving travel and support costs as well as building stronger two-way relationships with key customers and interactive online meetings. In the future IAC believes that these tools will help to develop and pursue new business opportunities.

In continued partnership with Webridge, they plan in the future to create a global “meeting place for industry.”Kirk Anderson: “The ultimate goal of building these electronic relationships is to enhance opportunity development, to help us better determine what our customers need in the future and how we can best serve them. That’s a win-win for both companies.”