Talking with vendors and user organizations at U Connect, there emerged a few themes, and I believe it is those themes that are the indicators. I mentioned a couple discussion points in the last issue, but there are some more fundamental issues being addressed.
I posted a recap of the conference and my take on the major corporate maneuvers (IBM, Sterling Commerce, GXS, and Inovis) here, and there are plenty of changes still in motion, some triggered by this M&A activity. One offshoot is the divestiture and subsequent acquisition of the Inovis catalog, which was a condition of the GXS acquisition. That catalog system is now in the hands of InterTrade, a significantly smaller organization than Inovis, based in Quebec. I had an opportunity to interview Francois hardy, VP of InterTrade at U Connect, and will be posting a video of that interview soon. But the real issue is that opportunities are available in the EDI world.
Another hot topic is in the area of drop shipping. As a user of drop shipments, the issues are well hidden, but for those companies that need to deal with the issues, the hurdles are significant. There are two efforts in play that promise to make different aspects of the process easier, more profitable, and more pervasive.
GCommerce's VIC (Virtual Inventory Cloud) offering promises to bring visibility to the special order segment of business, where just finding the product for the customer can be a time consuming and costly ordeal. We'll talk more about the specifics, but VIC is another idea that leverages SaaS technology to make its services widely available to industries like plumbing and auto parts.
Another project, still in stealth mode, is one that promises to play the role of matchmaker between suppliers and retailers. In a Match.com type play the service will put retailers together with suppliers that match each others' criteria for trading partner relationships. For example, retailers looking for suppliers capable of handling the complexities of direct to customer shipping could be discovered by a retailers wanting to expand their online catalog presence. Knowing that a particular supplier is prepared to meet the specs required by the retailer can save lengthy discussions and discovery that often ends up as wasted time. More on that project as it becomes a reality.
For now, check our contributors' articles and the video interviews. Our On the Line interview this issue is with Lynn Nathe of Vitality Foodservice, Inc. a Nestle company. Lynn won our door prize - a Flip ultraHD video camera that was awarded at random to one of the folks who stopped by our booth at U Connect.
If you have a topic you'd like us to cover, or a technology that you believe holds promise to the EDI world, submit your suggestion here and we'll do our best to follow up on it.