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Subject: Re: ebXML will end up being too expensive for small business

It should be noted that Mr. Boyle's signature file is associated with some 
proprietary approach to using XML for small business accounting. This does 
not automatically bias his comments, but it must considered.

I think that Boyle misses the importance of the Internet and co-evolution 
we are seeing on several fronts. Much of the investment for using EDI came 
from several requirements that seem to be changing. The requirements were

a) private networks for secure transaction routing

b) analytic support to create workable bilalateral
    specifications on top of the standards

c) the requirement for special tools to deal
    with EDI syntax

d) operational support to monitor and troubleshoot
    on-line transaction exchange

e) legal support required to do business electronically,
    since electronic business was not covered by the
    Universal Commercial Code

f) the lack of automated support for the underlying
    applications in small businesses.

Other than legal, these issues were largely addressed by clearinghouses. 
The economics required a substantial transaction volume to justify the 
startup effort.

a) Private Networks

Most PCs are equipped with the technology they need to be on the "N" side 
of "1-N" interchanges using HTTP. The ebXML Transport specification 
supplements the Internet protocols to create secure, non-repudiatable, 
compressed transactions.

Will there be software tools that operate in Windows environments and 
provide simple interfaces for to accept data and perform an ebXML exchange 
with an arbitrary URL? You betcha.

b) Multilateral Agreements

The lack of standards is an issue; it is particularly difficult, if not 
impossible, to create standards of widespread utility that do not require 
some customization for specific applications. What might substitute for 

Here is one scenario. ChannelMaster vendors (the "1" side of the "1-N" 
relationship) is able provide an XML 1.0 Schemas that provides their 
interpretation of the transaction, and some kind of certification facility 
to test transactions before going live, and applications that cater to 
small business provide customized interfaces to the ChannelMasters.

Application vendors that target small businesses provide support for the 
schemas of the major ChannelMasters, as Quicken does now for on-line banking.

This scenario demonstrates that considerable smallbiz-ebiz commerce can be 
facilitated by the "reverse Burger King" approach (Have it Our Way).

Here is another scenario. ASP application vendors targeting small busineses 
create prefab trading partner agreements with ChannelMasters. Small 
businesses experience the e-biz benefits as a side effect of using the ASP.

The last scenario is more controversial. It involves small businesses that 
"roll their own" applications having good tooling to support e-biz with 
ChannelMasters and other small busineses. Absent standards this is more 
problematical, although I personally believe it will happen.

One caveat: for any of this to happen we have got to advance PKI much 
farther then its current dismal state.

c) special tools to deal for EDI syntax

Surely no-one doubts that an immediate consequence of the rush to XML is 
the availability of low-cost tools. Even if they don't, two of the three 
scenarios above don't place any requirement on the small business to use 
the syntax.

d) operational support to monitor and troubleshoot
    on-line transaction exchange

For small businesses, there is less need for "lights-out" operation. During 
the time when the payroll data is uploaded using HTTP, the bookkeeper 
watches the screen, and prints out the receipt that was generated. (Etc.)

e) legal support because of problems with the
    Universal Commercial Code

I hear that the UCC is being amended to support E-Biz

f) the lack of automated support for the underlying
    applications in small businesses.

(This was addressed under "b".)


Co-evolution on many fronts serve to change the e-biz economics for small 
businesses when compared to EDI over private networks.

Wes Rishel

At 6/1/00 04:57 PM-0400, William J. Kammerer wrote:
>Seen on comp.text.xml on 18 May 2000:  "ebXML will take another year,
>and will be the future platform for enterprise scale companies and
>entities...ebXML will end up being too expensive for small business, and
>very similar to EDI which preceded it," by Todd F. Boyle, at
>Can this possibly be true?  What have we wrought?  If only
>"enterprise-scale" entities can use it, what about ebXML's promise to
>bring B2B interoperability to the masses?
>William J. Kammerer
>4950 Blazer Memorial Pkwy.
>Dublin, OH USA 43017-3305
>(614) 791-1600
>Visit FORESIGHT Corp. at http://www.foresightcorp.com/
>"Commerce for a New World"

Wes Rishel
Research Director
Healthcare Industry Research & Advisory Services
Alameda, CA
wes@rishel.com (for general correspondence)
wes.rishel@gartner.com (for GG business)
510 522 8135
This message does not represent an opinion of The GartnerGroup, or any 
other organization.

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