Voice of Experience: Brian Bell, Dow Chemical

Brian Bell
Dow Chemical
Lead Architecture Specialist for Integration
Midland, Mich.

Manager’s Profile: Bell’s 20 years at Dow Chemical include assignments in process automation and site computer operations. He has a computer science degree from the University of British Columbia.

What He Needs to Integrate: SAP R/2 and hundreds of mainframe applications, including systems to ensure compliance with government regulations. Some connections to Dow Chemical’s Web site are also part of the project.

Project’s History: Dow Chemical identified the need to do application integration nearly four years ago. In 1999, along with its consulting partner, Accenture, it retreated to a lab in Houston and tested products from STC (now SeeBeyond), Mercator and CrossWorlds, among other companies. Crossworlds won the bakeoff in early 2000; since then, Bell’s team has been busy putting the Crossworlds technology to work.

What he’s Spending: $3 million so far. Half has been for software licenses, the other half to cover the costs of custom code development.

Skill Sets He Needed: The development of EAI interfaces requires two skill sets: staff that can do low-level coding, and staff that understand the relationships between data in different applications and can design inter-application mapping and flow.

People at his Disposal: Bell had 16 programmers and business-area experts on his team in 2001—about half of them from Accenture.

His Biggest Headache: Software limitations. “By the end of 2000, it was clear that CrossWorlds out of the box wasn’t going to satisfy our requirements” to integrate Internet applications, Bell says. That obstacle was overcome when CrossWorlds itself brought in a B2B component from Cyclone Technologies.

His ROI: Bell says that through the EAI project, he’s now able to create custom connections for one-third of what it used to cost Dow Chemical. “We’ve standardized tools,” he says. Another benefit: During its recent acquisition of Union Carbide, Dow was able to retain the best of Union Carbide’s systems rather than replace them.