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Transactions' Evolving Next Wave

Many industries are slow to adopt technologies such as Web services and remain wedded to EDI
GARFI: AS2 will be a tool that some companies use to move toward XML-based communication. We don't plan on providing a lot more AS2 connections to our primary base since they tend to use a CIDX Chemical Industry Data Exchange-compliant solution.

INFORMATIONWEEK: Transplace recently announced that it was enabling its customers to conduct point-to-point transactions over the Internet using AS2. Has Transplace seen an increase in the number of customers opting for this service?

SCHLAEFER: It was late last year we started seeing an increase in interest in AS2 technology. ... We expect to see in the coming next two years probably a 50% increase among shippers. Most of that's due to companies trying to reduce their value-added network costs.

On the carrier side, I think the larger carriers will bring that technology on as soon as they can justify the ROI.

INFORMATIONWEEK: Given the economy, are many companies turning to online exchanges as a way of cutting the cost of doing business?

SEEGERS: Yes, although, I would tell you we saw a fair amount of it even before the economy started to slow down. We have seen companies invest quite a bit in private exchanges, and that investment continues to grow. And, if our transaction volume is any indication of the general state of the B-to-B E-commerce world, we're seeing transaction growth even right now in this economy in excess of two times gross domestic product growth.

INFORMATIONWEEK: At 7thOnline, how do you think your E-commerce infrastructure needs to change in order to support the next two to three years of supply-chain evolution in the retail industry?

MA: We have requests from our customers to expand our product offerings to other parts of the supply chain, such as the collaborative planning and forecasting and replenishment space.

Additionally, ... our application needs to be improved at a global level. All our customers are doing business with retailers all over the world. They're looking for opportunities to optimize supply and demand, shorten cycle time through effective planning, and enable global collaboration.

INFORMATIONWEEK: How do you see chemical-industry E-commerce evolving in the next two to three years, and how will ChemConnect's E-commerce infrastructure need to change to support that?

GARFI: Two to three years in our world is an eternity. We think in terms of weeks and months. But, bottom line, E-commerce is what we do, and we've bet the ranch on it. So we continually put efforts, R&D, and new services into upgrading our environment, our infrastructure, refreshed features.

INFORMATIONWEEK: What about the logistics industry?

BOYD: We're probably in a mode of healthy skepticism. ... There will be continued focus on return on investment, but we'll probably make some progress and move ahead a little more quickly in the next two to three years than we have in the past.

INFORMATIONWEEK: Are there any significant barriers to widespread adoption of E-commerce?

GARFI: Once economic conditions improve and budgets get reinstated, many of the barriers are going to drop down. We don't hear a lot of "no." We hear a lot of "maybe, not yet." At the risk of disparaging the industry I serve, the chemical folks aren't really known as being leading edge in forward thinking.

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