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Company enhances network systems and structured wiring divisions

BCI taps into e-commerce business solutions market

RIDGELAND — As an investment in the Internet’s untapped potential as a business asset, Ridgeland-based Business Communications Inc. recently partnered with Sun Microsystems and Sun/Netscape Alliance to resell e-commerce business solutions under a brand name that is quickly gaining notice in the telecommunications arena.

“By partnering with Sun Microsystems and Sun/Netscape Alliance, we can deliver e-business solutions under the brand name, iPlanet, for B2B opportunities on the Internet,” Nancy Carrington, BCI’s director of marketing and manager of Internet products group.

Tony Bailey, CEO of BCI, said creating the new division in the company — the Internet products group with e-business solutions — complemented BCI’s existing divisions: computer network systems and structured wiring. “Because helping businesses solve communications problems includes the Internet, we’ve ventured into e-business initiatives with the iPlanet crux, products that help companies run their businesses online,” Bailey said. “The world is changing rapidly and the ones who embrace this new technology will be here and the ones who don’t will be left behind.”

By 2003, $2.3 trillion in projected revenue will be generated from e-business, according to the Forrester Group, a highly touted research group.

“Businesses have just tapped the surface of Internet use and there’s much more potential than many companies realize,”said Carrington. “However, the basic elements must be in place first — a sound infrastructure and solid business plan — or automation will not make a difference.”

The biggest problem for companies? Ironically, a lack of communication, Carrington said. “No matter the size of the company, I often see an internal communication gap where one side isn’t communicating to the other,” she said.

In April 1998, Sun Microsystems formed a strategic alliance with Netscape, pooled the best of both companies’ research and development departments, and created e-business solution products marketed under iPlanet, with 1,200 people from each company geared up to market the products globally. About 70% of all e-commerce initiatives already run on Sun Microsystems, she said.

Jeffrey Cox, senior director of public relations for iPlanet e-commerce solutions, said even though financial results could not be revealed, the company is “well on track with objectives set a year ago — being a $500-million business.”

“Earlier this year, we announced the iPlanet brand, which is seeing huge success in the marketplace and is quickly becoming a recognizable brand,” Cox said. “A month and a half ago, we announced our entry into what we believe will be a new category of Internet software, a platform that most businesses will build their e-commerce structures around.”

BCI, the only Tier 3 reseller for iPlanet in the state, has grown from 80 to 125 employees in two years, with offices in Gulfport, Memphis, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Dallas and Franklinton, La. About 30% of its operations focuses on remarketing iPlanet’s custom-designed applications, such as Internet Bill Presentment and Payment (IBPP) utilized by many Fortune 100 companies.

“BCI is delivering technology to the region that will automate traditional brick and mortar business practices by utilizing the power of the Internet,” Carrington said. “This technology delivers transactional speed processes, real-time access and reduces not only manpower but also eliminates work flow functions that are time consuming and redundant in many businesses today.”

Bailey and George Trim established BCI in 1993 on a limited budget from a small one-room office in Jackson. In the late 1990s, BCI moved its headquarters to Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland, concentrating in four primary areas — computer network systems, structured cabling systems, voice/video systems and enterprise solutions.

Trim handled the structured cabling systems, Bailey headed up the computer network systems and enterprise solutions. Blake Webber, who was hired as a network design engineer for BCI, said the company “walked away from deals that didn’t gel” and has steadfastly “stuck to its mission.” For example, when the Y2K hype was garnering headlines, BCI declined to get involved, instead referring clients to solution providers. This year, BCI is on track for $15 million in annual sales.

“Our company has grown primarily because we have remained true to our mission statement,” said Bailey. “BCI connects people with technology. We are a network and communications systems integrator that provides proven solutions for quality-conscious clients in the public and private sectors.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lynne@thewritingdesk.com or (601) 853-3967.


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