e-commerce scenario

Chris von See cvonsee at onramp.net
Tue Jan 26 14:46:50 GMT 1999

From: "Michael S. Brothers" <Michael.S.Brothers at EMCIns.Com> in a response
to Joseph Bozzi:
>My only comment to this (which was well presented by the way) concerns
>the cost issue you touched on. EDI as you presented it is a scary
>looking thing (the real X12 stuff is scarier still!), but a mom and pop
>operation willing to spend about $30,000 can buy a software package
>such as Mercator to map the data from one form to the other. The
>operation would also need to hire someone to use it, so the cost goes
>up any more. However, the benefits could be enormous if having this
>capability allows the Mom and Pop to get contracts with Wal-Mart or JC
>Penneys or other large retailers who will only use suppliers that are
>EDI capable.

This is, I believe, one of the main reasons that EDI hasn't taken off as
much as people would like.  Expecting "mom and pop" outlets to spend
$30,000 to bet on the *possibility* that they might get a large contract is
a real stretch.  As was pointed out in earlier postings on this list (I
forgot who and when), there are small shops that already have pretty
lucrative trading partner relationships that won't spend that kind of money
because a) it's a lot of money for a chunk of software, and b) EDI is, as
you pointed out, a "scary looking thing", not because of the format of the
messages but because of the effort and cost involved in implementing it.

I am as big a proponent of XML EDI as anyone else, but what people seem to
forget is that the stuff flowing across the wire (XML, X.12 or whatever) is
only a small part of the equation.  The EDI companies make a ton of money
selling tools and services that let people translate the X12 transaction
formats to the data model used in their particular shop; that's what takes
up so much time in implementing EDI, and that's a big part of what scares
small potential EDI users to death.  These people aren't "information
technology" people, and anything as complicated as mapping X12 fields or
XML elements into their data model is going to turn them off EDI pretty
fast.  Standard DTDs for various business documents help, but only to a point.

>The thing that has me excited about XML is the potential to bring
>everyone into the EDI world. But, and this like Delta Burke's is a big
>but, only if the applications needed to translate the data from XML to
>legacy database and vice versa are affordable. Like less than $1500!!.
>>From my perspective, I use Office products all the time, but really
>balked at spending a mere $376 to upgrade to Office '97. Cost must be
>low, and it must also be easy to use.

I agree that cost of software is important, but cost of implementation is
IMHO even more important.  Solve this, and XML-EDI will take off like a shot.

Chris von See


"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

-- Thoreau

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