StabilizeA comment to us from a large supply chain “hub”: “The GXS mess shows how fragile everything is in the supply chain. Stakeholders (suppliers, manufacturers, distributors) do not control their own destiny if they are using an EDI Provider”.

There is an imbalance of power: end users should have control over the supply chain. Is it time for them to move to their own inside system which they control? What can stakeholders do? They don't want to support everything (re-invent the Internet or something counter-productive like that). Yes, they have an alternative to run everything over an AS2 setup. They just don't want outsourcers making the rules.

One view of the current state of affairs is that interconnects are too “black box,” and that VANs “grudgingly cooperate” instead of proactively advancing the science.

Some of the possible steps to correct this mess include:

  1. Creating industry standards for ID and Interconnect Registration (real business rules, not just forms)

  2. Recognize a requirement for directory services in a way such that VANs would need to transparently share their routing tables

  3. Agree on a standard for interconnection. For example, SPS Commerce (a VAN2) has a “transit agreement” with Loren Data (a SuperHub), but SPS Commerce has only a “Peering agreement” with Sterling Commerce (a traditional VAN). (From an end-user standpoint there is absolutely no difference between a VAN and a VAN2)

  4. Create a standardized method to track interchanges across networks and providers.

The object would be to create a stable environment not disrupted by “bullying”. The EDI service providers are really just “outsourced providers”. Consider a different situation; how long an office cleaning company would last as an outsourced provider with your company if they dictated what rooms they would clean and what rooms they would not clean?

Think about “risk management” for a moment. We categorize, classify and rank what we identify as “risks” to our supply chain. Could be weather-related, accidents, manpower-related like a strike, pirate ships off the African coast. Similarly, do we have “pirates” trying to control our supply chain?
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