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Subject: Re: [ebxml-dev] RE: [EDI-L] Article on ebXML Core Components ...

At 09:36 AM 4/21/02, Rachel Foerster wrote:

>  It's a business imperative and necessary now and into the future
>to be able to exchange unambiguous data. And personally I believe the
>future will be **not** the shipping off to a business partner data or
>documents, etc. but providing real time controlled access to the necessary
>information transparently between enterprises so that cross-enterprise
>business processes can execute to the desired outcome.

As more and more small businesses have always-on connections
to the internet, sooner or later it will dawn on them to expose at
least some limited views or query interfaces to their customers
and suppliers.

Small businesses often have only one person performing all roles
that interface a particular customer or supplier, and accordingly
have no need for business process management. The cost of updating
all the statuses and stages of a BP exceed their benefit.  Cell phones,
headsets, and the collapse of long distance have made it even cheaper
to handle exceptions.

I don't wish to diminish the usefulness of ebXML BP in any way, for
Enterprise or other value chains where they are appropriate!  But
I think the exchange of documents remains the best potential
way to get ebXML in the door of SMEs.  And, once they gain some
familiarity with it, they will be much closer to supply chain integration
or other BP scenarios.  Here is one fictitious dialog for
your entertainment

Todd Boyle CPA
AR/AP everywhere  www.arapxml.net

Let's take a break, and get beat up by a small busieness owner....

Q:  "Why should I allow my customer or supplier to see the purchase
and sale data in *my* accounting system?? "

A: "you already do.  Whenever you send a PO or an invoice. "

Q:  Yeah but why should I allow them to see their Account Receivable
page, or Account Payable, in *my* system?

A:  You already do, whenever you send them a statement.

Q.  Yeah, but I never send statements until they have been reviewed
at the end of the month and the bank account is reconciled to find
all the mistakes in our posting payments.

A.  Ok then why don't you expose a view of the invoices now,
and expose the reviewed statements at the end of the month?
You don't have to change your procedures at all.  Too bad your bank
is so unhelpful http://www.gldialtone.com/transaction04.htm

Q.  Well why should I do this, what's the payoff for me?

A.  Some of your customers might pay you sooner.

Q.  Yeah but all my good customers already pay me on time,
and my bad customers, I don't think they have the intelligence
to use a computer.

A.  Maybe when they can login and see their account they will
understand it better.  Maybe they are paying their other suppliers
sooner than they are paying you. Why don't you try emailing them
their statements more often.

Q.  Yeah but what are you trying to sell me?  You're just trying
to capture me into a central server or single-vendor software.

A.  Sharing views *directly* with trading partners is the exact
opposite of being trapped in a portal model.  Today, you are
trapped in two separate portal models:  first, you are trapped in
your local software with no electronic interface...

Q.  Yeah but what am I supposed to "Interface" with?  There is
no standard. Nobody else has any "Interface" either.

A.  Do you vote?
Q.  Yes.
A.  Do you make charitable contributions?
Q.  Yes.
A.  How much did you contribute last year?
Q.  None of your business.
A.  Transaction integration helps the planet and it doesn't
          cost you anything.

Q.  What do you mean??

A.  You're cutting down the paper consumption, getting
vehicles off the road, cutting trips to banks and post offices.
You're saving labor. People can do more useful things.

Q.  Yeah but what do you mean, "Free"?

A.  Do you already do accounting work, posting all your sales
and purchases?

Q.  Yes.

A.  Then exposing the data to the trading partner costs effectively
nothing. You don't have to compose any new documents. In fact,
the trading partner can freeload off your data entry work.  They
simply click "OK" to suck your data into their computer and post it.

Q.  Yes.  But where is the software to do this??

A. There are modules in the open source ebXML projects, and in
the VARs and developer communities of most of the accounting

Q.  Why that's ridiculous.  You're bullsh*itting me.   Integration
always costs megabucks.   I have been burned many times in
the past by computer consultants.

A.  In the past, the N-squared problem required a separate
software solution for every combination of thousands of software
products, that is, *millions* of adapters to connect with each other.
Since ebXML is a common format, each accounting platform only
needs one adapter.

Q.  Well, I don't believe you.   Anyway, you said I am already
locked into  *two* different portal traps. What's the other one?

A. You are trapped in the banking system with no other way to
settle ARs or APs except by running payments through banks
for each and every payment.  That wrecks your bookkeeping and
your trading partner's bookkeeping, since banks only process
payment data and block all the transaction data between small

Q.  That's right.  So, what good is AR/AP integration between me
and my trading partner?

A.  Settlement intermediaries such as accounts receivable factors
can't be cheap today because the data is so confused.  But even
a robot can do settlement if data is good.  And if collateralized.
What you are doing is uncoupling the interest cost and the risk,
which cannot be avoided.  You are making the mechanics of accounting
and settlement cheaper.

Derivatives, promissory notes or digital cash become more practical,
when you have high quality data.  Do you think global corporations
all write checks or bank transfers to each other?  at the end of
each month?  Not.

Q.  OK you're telling me to provide a SOAP interface on my ARs
to my customers, and my APs to my suppliers???

A.  Yes.

Q.   Go away.  That's just not the way we do business in podunk.

A.  Ok tell you what.   Why don't you pass me your ARs and APs
in UBL, in ebXML core components format, every time you do a
purchase or a sale.   You show me how much it's costing you,
screwing around with AR and AP, your banking and bank
reconcilation, and other settlement after the conclusion of a sale.
I will manage the ARs and APs and bank balances for you for 1/2
cost.  I will bounce all the business differences back to you, since
you're the only one who can resolve them anyway.

Q.  Ok.   Deal.

A.  Ok then why don't you let the computers connect, and do it
for nothing?  You realize, in the long run, I'm going to be charging
you money for operating a robot software I got from ebXML
open source?    sheesh...

Todd Boyle CPA  9745-128th Ave NE  Kirkland WA
International Accounting Services, LLC  www.gldialtone.com
425-827-3107  AR/AP everywhere  www.arapxml.net

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