Companies from five industries - automotive, battery, Christian retailing, PHCP and publishing - converged on Atlanta to attend EC Directions 2001, an inter-industry forum on connecting trading communities through electronic commerce.
Presented by the Management Information Systems Group, a provider of electronic commerce, electronic data interchange and Internet solutions to industry trading communities, EC Directions addressed a variety of issues regarding streamlining supply chains though e-commerce.
Topics included Web exchanges, Internet legal issues, e-commerce as part of a supply chain's future, application service providers, vendor-managed inventory (also called supplier-assisted inventory replenishment), e-catalogs and industry databases and bar coding. Two panel discussions were presented on customer e-commerce issues and supplier online-exchange issues.
Daniel M. Ferguson, vice president and manager of Faulkner and Gray EC Research, a professional services company specializing in e-commerce research and consulting, discussed the growth of EDI in the 21st century. Ferguson said that, while some may say that EDI is dead, the fact is that the benefits of EDI are as strong as ever - cost savings, error-rate improvement and cycle time changes.
EDI transaction volume is growing at 12% per year, transaction expenditures are growing at 5% per year, and Internet EDI is exploding at 28% per year, he noted. However, EDI fits well with only certain types of business-process solutions. Before engaging in electronic commerce, ask these four questions:
1. What business processes are you examining and can they be improved?
2. What is the best e-commerce technology to use?
3. What is the best implementation solution for the e-commerce technology chosen?
4. Will the solution chosen be profitable for the company?
"Determine how much data in your company is electronic," he said. "If you're doing less than the average 28%, your company is inefficient."
Break-out sessions were added the second day so that each industry could discuss specific e-commerce concerns in its supply chain. Kevin Price, director of the American Supply Association's Center for Advancing Technology, moderated a combined plumbing/battery session along with Moe Desmarais of the Battery Council International. Topics discussed include an EDI implementation case study of Hercules Chemical and F.W. Webb (Burlington, Mass.), an ASA ANSINET update, integrating standards into e-catalogs, e-commerce security issues, and marketing your Web site.
About 134 people representing 13 associations attended the conference, and an EC Directions is being planned for next year.