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· Sterling Integrator delivers record-time application integration between sites; and full integration between SAP and local systems

· Modularity of solution equips Lhoist to meet current and future standards and B2B commerce needs

London, 17th December 2002 - Sterling Commerce, leading provider of business-to-business commerce solutions, has signed up global producer of lime and dolomite, Lhoist, to its newly launched, advanced business process management (BPM) platform, Sterling Integrator.

Lhoist, headquartered in Belgium, specialises in the extraction and transformation of lime and dolomite, and posts an annual turnover of $1.8 billion. As a result of a globalisation strategy, Lhoist has enjoyed significant internal and external growth in recent years. Following the acquisition of a number of plants and multi-site companies worldwide, Lhoist now counts fifty sites equipped with a wide range of disparate IT systems. The difficulty in managing information flow and data synchronization between these different sites has driven the company’s need to adopt an integration solution.

To date at Lhoist, orders and ‘master data’, including customer, product and pricing databases have been centrally managed by an SAP system. However, delivery information such as the weight of inbound trucks has been handled by a variety of local applications. Between SAP and Lhoist’s remote locations and systems exists a tangled web of complex, non-flexible, in-house interconnections.

Through Sterling Integrator, Lhoist aims to:

· Improve and streamline its order and shipping processes to better serve large customers

· Gain a single view of its numerous activities (industry and applications)

· Reduce manual processes required to validate and ship orders

· Automate the flow of information between its central SAP system and different local
applications



As a user of Connect:Direct, Sterling Commerce’s secured and automated data exchange solution, Lhoist initially contacted Sterling Commerce to review the possibilities of optimizing its existing infrastructure. A study of the company’s existing IT systems highlighted a real need for data and applications integration. Sterling Integrator provides the platform to support both enterprise application integration (EAI) and B2B integration, and delivers a business process-centric approach to integration.

Sterling Integrator is a next-generation integration platform that automates the flow of information between employees, legacy infrastructure, enterprise applications and B2B commerce environments. It makes companies easier to do business with, whilst also helping cut costs, accelerate response times and achieve tighter business collaboration, ultimately enabling enhanced customer service. Sterling Integrator is designed and built from the ground up on a J2EE platform.

Enabling real-time transfer of information

In its initial stage of implementation, commencing December 2002, Lhoist aims to enable the transfer of information in real-time by integrating existing applications with remote sites, starting with Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia, to be followed by the other European sites and then extending to the United States.

Sterling Integrator allows 100% automation of the flow of data between the central SAP system (outsourced with IBM) and the local sites, allowing the free exchange of information between the central system and the local systems. The common references contained in the SAP system (customer, product and pricing databases, etc.) will be accessible from the various sites, while the central site will dispatch orders locally, and the local sites will feed back information regarding deliveries.

In the second stage of implementation, Lhoist plans to integrate the human infrastructure exception handling capability into its automated processes. Sterling Integrator’s exceptions handling function includes an alarm system that warns the decision maker or an operator when an unexpected situation or an error requires manual intervention.


Luc Renders, IT Operations Manager from Lhoist said: “Sterling Integrator’s exception handling functionality appealed to us greatly. Via a web interface, the user can process exceptional cases or correct errors manually, to keep the supply chain truly fluid. This is a major plus compared to most of the solutions now available on the market.”

“The modular approach of Sterling Integrator allows us to reply to urgent requirements in record time. In less than three months, Sterling Commerce has enabled the automated integration of all our business processes and applications in Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia. Just as importantly, Lhoist now has a modular, strategic tool to respond to future B2B commerce needs. In the future, by simply adding appropriate functionality, Sterling Integrator will be able to satisfy any new standards-based requirement that we have and take us one step further to becoming a fully-integrated enterprise.”

Dave Robinson, Vice President EMEA of Sterling Commerce commented: “Lhoist has adopted a long-term, strategic approach to becoming a fully-integrated, extended enterprise. Sterling Integrator allows Lhoist to continue to capitalise on its existing infrastructure and systems, plus it enables the company to extend its data interchanges to include company customers and partners.”

For more information on Sterling Integrator, visit http://www.sterlingcommerce.com/emea


About Sterling Commerce

Sterling Commerce, a wholly owned subsidiary of SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE:SBC) is one of the world's largest providers of business-to-business commerce solutions. For Global 5000 companies and their customers, suppliers and partners, Sterling Commerce software and services help maximize business performance and improve business metrics through integration of applications, external partner systems and people. With more than 25 years of experience serving tens of thousands of customers in a vast range of industries, Sterling Commerce is a recognized pioneer in business-to-business commerce through its longstanding expertise in EDI. Today, as customers explore new ways to improve business performance via the Internet, Sterling Commerce continues to innovate its software and services to further the global adoption of e-commerce while offering its customers strategic solutions that leverage existing technology.

For more information, visit http://www.sterlingcommerce.co.uk


For media enquiries please contact:
Linda Clifford
Sterling Commerce
+44 (0)208 867 8239
linda_clifford@stercomm.com


Jacquelene Hopwell / Claire Smither
Nelson Bostock Communications
Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 4400
jacquelene.hopwell@nelsonbostock.com

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