EXTOL International: Accelerating e-Business Integration with Real-time Visibility

Anthony Baran, CEO of EXTOL International, is an adventure seeker who loves flying his open cockpit biplane over exhilarating locations like the Caribbean Islands. Being a flying expert, Baran is well-aware of the external factors that can affect his flight during unreasonable weather conditions and thunderstorms. Flying well requires a certain amount of precision, steadiness, planning and focus to execute plans speedily. Baran follows the same strategy, stability and preparation for running a successful business like EXTOL International. His farsightedness, focus and successful execution is a reflection of EXTOL’s expertise in providing high speed data transformation and integration to help achieve business goals faster.

“The complex nuance of the logistics industry is the speed at which things need to be enabled. Sometimes common problems arise when changes have to be included in data models, time schedules, order replacement or accommodation processes,” narrates Baran. When a non-asset logistics provider—who performs functions such as consultation on packing, transportation, freight quoting and financial settlement—receives a contract from large manufacturers for distribution of goods, the problem lies in quickly arranging the space, organizing for transportation, and integrating systems on a fast time scale. In order to solve this challenge, EXTOL provides unique solutions that deliver business-critical integration faster—by consolidating functionalities and eliminating latency through efficient project planning.

Transformation to a Full Service e-Business Provider

Beginning in 1989, by Tony, and his brother, Joe Baran, EXTOL solutions provided integration and transformation of EDI for various packaged and homegrown applications. Over its 25 year history, EXTOL has evolved with changing market needs to deliver multiple solutions for data integration in the logistics sector. “Integration is not a static process. We find a lot of commonalities in integration challenges of various businesses within the logistics and technology industry,” states Baran.

Innovative Solutions with Superior Value

EDI, a three-decade-old standard still widely used by technology-rich businesses across the supply chain, helps boost efficiency and eliminate data errors. According to Baran, the EXTOL EDI Integrator for i (EEI),was developed to meet the demand for EDI integration in the early 1990’s, and has been continuously enhanced to deliver high-performance EDI integration native to the AS400 (IBM i) platform to enable end users to simplify business-critical EDI transactions at a faster rate. EEI’s potential to detect data errors helps in improving trading partner relationships, curbing time spent trouble shooting end-user requests and reducing operational costs. EEI contains EDI specific integration tools and supports a wide range of software applications.

EEI works on an automated File Transfer Protocol (FTP) capability that enables users to poll FTP servers on a scheduled basis without the need for custom programs. The product also accommodates a ‘work fields’ feature that provides variables that can be used in maps during inbound and outbound translation, thereby eliminating the need for creating a specific program or file to temporarily store the data.
A farsighted entrepreneur at heart, Baran observed the necessity of introducing a product that would run across multiple platforms to accustom the new trend in the logistics industry where several midsized companies switched from the IBM AS400 platform to platforms like Windows or Linux. He also scrutinized that several manufacturers often look to integrate their system with logistics provider’s systems, which is not necessarily through EDI. Instead, they look for a more direct connection between their systems. “A number of companies in the logistics arena personalize their solutions for new customers, in a short period of time, giving them a significant advantage,” explains Baran.

In order to challenge the competitors in the industry, the company’s flagship product, EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI), provides a single, middleware platform for integrating data throughout internal and external systems and applications, without coding. EBI can be used to build maps, processes, business rules, event triggers, and even manage alerts. With built-in graphical and business capabilities, EBI is build on a sophisticated and robust platform to ensure optimal performance. The product includes achange management feature providing users with immediate access to their own secure repository. This system provides capabilities to store EBI integration projects in a centralized location, and enables any changes to be tracked. If an unauthorized or disruptive change is made, the integration objects can be reverted to a previous state.

Our integration services are backed by a professional services team that has developed some of the best practices to meet the increasing needs of transportation and logistics industries

Another key functionality of the product is the ability to duplicate rules from one map to a different one. This functionality does not require the maps to have the same document syntax. Baran explains that most implementations follow a pattern of copying an existing map and modifying it for the new partner or project.

The advanced electronic communication tools of today are helping supply chain members in providing real time shipment status reports to optimize operational efficiency. C.R. England, a temperature-control transportation services company, has found a way to meet the demand of administering real-time shipment details, even when trucks are en route. The drivers enter shipment status through a wireless communication system called OmniTRACS. With EXTOL integration, the data is automatically pulled to the shipping department where it is distributed in real time to various C.R. England applications.C.R. England also uses EXTOL integration to send data throughout supply chain channels to provide customers, vendors, and suppliers with status updates.

“The EDI Integrator for i was chosen not only for its ability to integrate with the OmniTRACS
CIO VendorAnthony Baran, President & CEO system, but also because of its capability to automate much of the routine, day to day functioning of their EDI initiative, which spans all four divisions of the company,” Baran delineates.

Baran recollects an interesting example where Burris Logistics, a sophisticated controlled temperature-food distribution company headquartered in Delaware,faced a time-consuming integration cycle that was eating into the company’s bottom line. With 350-500 trading partners and only 25 IT staff members in the company, Burris Logistics needed to simplify and accelerate trading partner integration, as well as efficiently manage complex data capture and transfer. The customer installed the EXTOL Business Integrator, and soon realized a major decrease development time and a major increase in the number of trading partners on-boarded.

EXTOL’s integration services is backed by a professional services team that has developed some of the best practices to meet the increasing needs of transportation and logistics industries. The company’s talented staff works towards providing professional functionalities to customers by leveraging customized services. EXTOL operates on a Customer Intimacy Model where everyone in the organization works closely with customers, by helping them develop software solutions that not only meet their requirements but also helps them do business faster.

The Pennsylvania-based Technical Support team even answers every call, rather than having an automatic answer machine on the phone. Calls aren’t passed around from person to person, and resolutions are almost always delivered the same day. EXTOL has a 96 percent customer retention rate and has the highest customer satisfaction Net Promoter Score for North American tech vendors according to a 2014 benchmark report by the Temkin Group. EXTOL is also one of the only B2B software companies to publicly post un-edited customer experience reviews. As one EXTOL customer put it, “Having worked with many software companies over the 20 years in my career, EXTOL is hands down the best technical support I’ve ever received.”

Paving a Bright Future

Offering unparalleled accuracy and control in simplifying and accelerating end-to-end e-Business Integration, the company has been recognized as a pioneer in the EDI and integration space. Baran’s determination and meticulousness to provide the best-of-breed integration solutions will continue to lead EXTOL’s customers to streamline processes and develop innovate techniques to re-define the logistics industry today.

EXTOL International

Pottsville, PA

Anthony Baran, President & CEO

A full-service e-Business Integrator offering innovative business solutions for data integration and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)