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Subject: RE: [ebxml-dev] Gartner and ebXML

(Below I stammered out some general comments, which busy developers may 
safely skip:)

On 9/10/2002, Rachel Foerster wrote, among many good comments,

>On the other hand, I've been watching the ongoing work of the various
>technical committees and work groups, especially those continuing the ebXML
>work under UN/CEFACT and have grave concerns about the extreme complexity
>now being built into the various specifications. It appears to me that the
>needs and focus on the SME have been totally eclipsed by the big guys. I can
>remember my remarks at the ebXML Brussels meeting in May, 2000, that if
>ebXML does not meet the needs of the SME, it will fail. I hope that this is
>not what I'm observing at the present time. Thus, Gartner's comments below
>about the "good enough" certainly ring true.

Well, first of all, I wouldn't give you two cents for Gartner's opinions about
ebXML.   What do they know?  Where is their business process guy, on the
newsgroups?  Is this some uber-guru who reads all, knows all, attends
the meetings incognito?   Then, sells their knowledge instead of sharing
it on the lists?   sheesh.

I'm not too worried about ebXML.  It's easy to be distracted by 80% of the
activity, which is developers and vendors working hard to try to get a
contract from a global company, to stay alive.    Naturally there are
acres of whitepapers and whole sections of the ebXML specs, focused
on the same industries (auto, supply chain etc. )   But not to worry.

The real problem I see is the large and even, medium sized companies
do *not* seem to want a generalized framework that is a level playing
field, in which they might be commoditized or otherwise, lose a grip on
some element of their strategic advantage in markets.   The poster
child of course is, the auto suppliers who refused to be commoditized
on price.  But there are countless other examples; we seem to have
a failure right now getting industries to provide sample business process
specifications, defining how the basic choreography works in their industry.
We have problems getting instance documents.  We don't have enough
examples to gain confidence our metamodels are sufficient.

ebXML I think is all about ontology, it is about abstraction. We can
see the concrete EDI and OAGIS and other messages flows, and
create abstractions, metamodels, that are valid enough.  It is
fairly inevitable that software R&D will progress in this direction, both
inside and outside ebXML. The UMM seems quite sensible to me.

If enterprise and midrange companies adopt ebXML, there will
be no problem getting the rest of small business and individuals
equipped with ebXML transceivers.  I relish the thought!

It is precisely this fact that caused the Enterprises and Enterprise
software providers to run away.

The large software vendors, IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, the ERPs,
are the real culprits here.  Academic research, and R&D by small
software vendors on the ebXML and other lists, proves there is a
commons.  There can be no above-normal returns from software and
patent, in a commons.   There can only be normal economic
returns, and a reduction of the excessive size of the software
industry that is focused on capturing returns from ordinary commerce.

Realize, we have been reading for a generation, this "strategic consulting"
stuff by Gartner and by business schools.  At its very heart this is the
notion of above-normal returns by superior analysis of information and
manipulation of other actors in the economy. Below is a paper commenting
on this pervasive manipulation of information.

It is this very activity that has caused Enterprise and SME to fear
the loss of control of their "strategic advantage" such as, competitors
learning who their customers are, or what they do.

Ironically, SMEs are not even getting above average returns :-)

Their competitors and customers already KNOW who sells what,
and who is the most productive supplier, i.e. who works hardest.

It is precisely the SME who is getting *below-normal* returns
because they are being euchered by the globally concentrated
companies and their big-iron software providers.


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