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

Thanks Mike, for taking this one on.

There are generally two types of people:
1) those that exploit others
2) those that help others

The big stick is a form of exploitation, and its this attitude that creates
sweatshops and causes wars.

What the world needs is lower cost of entry to e-business, and by providing
technology to insulate a small business from the traditional complexities of
international trade (logistics, customs clearance, regulations) may be the
best form to help level the playing field for people in emerging nations.
This will hopefully enable them to sustain a livable wage.  This of course
is contrary to the goals of those who desire to make a buck (literally) off
the backs of others.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Rawlins [mailto:mike@rawlinsecconsulting.com] 
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 2:16 PM
To: Christopher Harvey
Cc: 'Todd Boyle'; rachelf@ix.netcom.com; ebxml-dev@lists.ebxml.org
Subject: Re: [ebxml-dev] RE: [EDI-L] Article on ebXML Core Components ...

Excuse me, but I can't help but violently disagree with most of this 
sentiment!  The main problem is not necessarily with the SME, but with 
the tools that are available to them.  Most would accommodate a big 
customer's request to do business electronically if it was cost 
effective for them to do so.  In the current way of doing things (and 
I'm afraid how ebXML may turn out the same way) it costs them more to do 
business electronically than by other means.  And you blame *them* for 
that?  That's exactly how the big guys work.  If they can't show an ROI 
on something, they won't do it.

Your thinking reflects a big stick approach which I am increasingly 
seeing, with large buyers imposing financial penalties of all sorts upon 
their suppliers in force a shift of costs from the customer to the 
supplier.  Does this produce efficiencies?  In some cases yet, but as 
often as not it forces the supplier to raise their prices so that they 
can recover costs and still make a profit.  This is *not* a very good model.

We need better solutions, not bigger sticks...

Christopher Harvey wrote:

>>What still amazes me is the assumption (apparently) on the part of the
>>enterprise is that if they get their needs meet the small guys will stand
>>up, salute and march on.
>Very true but... I am increasingly of the opinion that unless we use the
>power of the big guys down onto the SMEs, the latter will not bother to do
>SMEs do not have much of a collective voice except the scream that will
>when they big guys hit them were it hurts. So, can we blame the big guys
>"taking charge"?
>As you may gather, my patience with (some... most) SMEs is wearing thin.
>average SME will ignore change until it is forced otherwise (at least in
>this part of the world). We are slowly getting more and more of the big
>corporations telling our SMEs: "Do it electronically, or lose the
>Good, about bl**dy time.
>The SMEs have only themselves to blame. I am new to ebXML but my 0.02 cents
>worth is to ask all involved to understand the needs of the SMEs but to use
>the big guys to force change.
>Chris Harvey
>Zara Technology Pte Ltd
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Rachel Foerster" <rachelf@ix.netcom.com>
>To: "'Christopher Harvey'" <ckharvey@zaratechnology.com.sg>; "'Todd Boyle'"
>Cc: <ebxml-dev@lists.ebxml.org>
>Sent: 23 April 2002 01:17
>Subject: RE: [ebxml-dev] RE: [EDI-L] Article on ebXML Core Components ...
>>Your comments are on the mark! I've personally been a bit dismayed over
>>life history of the ebXML initiative that what once started out to have a
>>focus on "inclusion" of the SME and their needs has instead, at least in
>>viewpoint, clearly moved over into the domain of the large enterprise and
>>what they need/want.
>>What still amazes me is the assumption (apparently) on the part of the
>>enterprise is that if they get their needs meet the small guys will stand
>>up, salute and march on. If the SME's needs are not truly addressed here,
>>I said during one of my ebXML Marketing Work Group updates to the ebXML
>>plenary, my personal opinion is that the ebXML effort will have failed.
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Christopher Harvey [mailto:ckharvey@zaratechnology.com.sg]
>>Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2002 9:09 PM
>>To: Todd Boyle
>>Cc: ebxml-dev@lists.ebxml.org
>>Subject: Re: [ebxml-dev] RE: [EDI-L] Article on ebXML Core Components
>>Extremely well put. It's somehow comforting to know that SMEs in the US
>>the same 'mentality' as SMEs here in Asia.
>>The big gap to be bridged is in getting SMEs to understand that there is a
>>direct financial benefit to be had; opposing that is their belief that
>>data must remain 'secret' (as it had for generations - a necessity when
>>than one set of books have been historically kept).
>>Rachel is absolutely correct when she says: It's a business imperative and
>>necessary now and into the future to be able to exchange unambiguous data.
>>As a tech company, we know that. Our government knows that. But getting
>>to understand that is a whole different uphill struggle.
>>ebXML is an excellent initiative but... the real SMEs, the mass-market
>>ones, with 50 or usually less, employees - which make up the vast majority
>>of companies - have a mindset that you would not believe unless you have
>>been exposed to it. For the success of ebXML, and e-commerce in general,
>>is imperative that all involved with these important initiatives have a
>>grasp of the SME mindset.
>>I hope this is not drifting off topic but it is vital that XML potential
>>does not become solely the domain of the big players...
>>Chris Harvey
>>Zara Technology Pte Ltd
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: "Todd Boyle" <tboyle@rosehill.net>
>>To: <rachelf@ix.netcom.com>
>>Cc: <ebxml-dev@lists.ebxml.org>
>>Sent: 22 April 2002 07:56
>>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
>>>>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
>>>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
>>>The ebxml-dev list is sponsored by OASIS.
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>>The ebxml-dev list is sponsored by OASIS.
>>To subscribe or unsubscribe from this elist use the subscription
>>manager: <http://lists.ebxml.org/ob/adm.pl>
>The ebxml-dev list is sponsored by OASIS.
>To subscribe or unsubscribe from this elist use the subscription
>manager: <http://lists.ebxml.org/ob/adm.pl>

Michael C. Rawlins, Rawlins EC Consulting

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