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Targeting those companies that have electronic storefronts and business-to-business trading platforms for various partners and customers, IBM is readying the next iteration of its WebSphere Commerce Suite.

Version 5.6, expected at the end of this month, will include a beefed-up Business Context Engine that enables users to manage relationships with their customers based on roles and channels.

Initially introduced with Version 5.5, this next iteration of the Context Engine provides personalization capabilities at the user interface level—something that had a negative connotation in the past, since personalization was seen as the equivalent of slow, according to Bob Werkema, product manager for WebSphere Commerce.

“Personalization in a B2B context has almost a negative context,” said Werkema, in Armonk, N.Y. “If I have a lot of relationships and I am trying to personalize [each one], that’s hard to maintain and upkeep. Very few companies have been successful with it. What we’ve done is [we’ve] allowed [users] to personalize all the way down to the user level.”

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