Web Services for MV – Why?

If you have any interest in my other postings on Web Services for MV, or you’re still not sure why you should be interested, you must read this article at InformationWeek called “Why IT Needs To Push Data Sharing Efforts“. That explains briefly and in clear terms how and why the rest of the world is (or should be) sharing data. Note that there is more to the article than you see there, register (free) on the site to get the PDF of the full magazine. BTW, IIRC, I’ve been reading InformationWeek for about 12 years now and in almost every issue there is something of value to the MV market – but sadly I never see anyone in the MV market reaping the benefits. Check it out.

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4 thoughts on “Web Services for MV – Why?

    • I’ve read some good articles, but I rarely consider myself an MV user when reading them. Some of the more technology-oriented articles are geared towards competing technologies, but the business focus of the article can be massaged to fit MV too.

      What bothers me the most is the fact that there are a lot of companies running “main stream” relational systems and they still refuse to support electronic initiatives. Something as simple as a universal web portal to allow suppliers to enter ship date and tracking number for incoming product is often shot down. Why? The answers range from “We don’t have time” to “We already send you a fax with the info written on it”.

      Web services integration would eliminate the additional work on both sides, but the disparity of integrations within and beside the supply chain makes it a battle that’s often pointless to engage in. There is no centralized and standardized venue for passing this information around. Ariba tried to make cXML and their punchout method a flexible and centralized way to link suppliers and customers. Unforuntately, a couple of other large companies decided that their approach and schema (ebXML *cough*) was better. Even today there are a bunch of vertical markets that do not talk to each other. A good anology to current e-business mentality would be a group of cliques in a high school. As a distributor, it is painful trying to keep up with the third-party e-business brokers that pop up and offer their own customized integration portals into the larger vertical market firms. It’s also a lot of headache and work following large customers that move from broker to broker and are constantly changing their data delivery and aquisition processes.

      Maybe I should blog about this… This isn’t a comment any more. 🙂


    • Glen – I think this might be a first where the guest comment is longer is than the blog. 😉 Thanks for your note.

      To your first point, I write a lot of material for “MV people” because “MV people” tend to think they’re different than everyone else. They generally look toward “MV ways” of doing things, think that tools need to be built into the DBMS, etc. If everyone in this market just saw themselves as being IT people, just like any relational professionals, well, guys like me would need to redirect our skills to make a living. I hope one of these days we actually get there. I think an increasing number of “MV people” are getting replaced by IT people who do treat their DBMS as just another asset, and a good number of MV people have revised their way of thinking. These people are my target audience – they know and love the MV/Pick model but they want to integrate with the outside world too.

      Now when they get there they find “standards” may vary with every trading partner. Yes, they all take electronic docs but some use EDI and some use Web Services. With WS, some partners insist on custom formats of XML, and yes, they change their minds frequently. The only thing that makes this a problem is the socio-business status positioning which makes it difficult to charge partners for the effort required to conform to their custom specs. Usually the big partner dictates the rules and the little guy needs to pay the price to keep the big partner. That’s backwards. The WS product I’ve been developing allows companies to at least get on the playing field. If the rules change, they’re still in the game. Most of these companies (the MV shops) aren’t even playing right now. My goal is to help fix that problem.

    • Heh. Tony, you know I’m either quiet or overly verbose and this is a topic that hits home with our daily operations. Maybe I need to write an article for Spectrum. Is there one audience that might listen to me?

      EDI? Let’s go back to 2400 BAUD modems too. We occasionally get requests for EDI communications and frankly it’s too expensive due to greedy VANs and very inefficient considering the other options that have been around since 2000. The most notable are the vertical markets that offer XML integration. The registration is often free for the supplier. The customers pay fees for using the markets, but they have a central place to shop and can submit one PO to buy products from a myriad of suppliers.

      I found my dusty copy of “Executive’s Guide to E-Business – from tactics to strategy” ISBN 0471376396 the other day. It was published in 2000 and ironically enough the same business politics and process structuring preventing many companies from becoming true E-businesses back then still affect new and old companies today. It’s almost 2011 people! CPUs have advanced several generations but electronic data sharing is still too difficult and expensive? C’mon. I have experienced this lack of vision and technology adoption first-hand and am still amazed at how backwards thinking companies still are. And, they somehow manage to stay alive today! I think a recordable portion of the IT world and business executives still have no clue what e-business truely means. A web site and an e-mail address does not make you an e-business. This global restricted or unrestricted sharing of real-time data is critical to becoming a true e-business with the freedom, flexibility and efficiency to take supply chains to the level we all want and need. The cubic packing algorithm (napsack problem) may still be outside the reach of most distributors and retailers, but all companies (manufacturers, distributors, and retailers) that provide physical product should be able to provide real-time electronic order status and tracking information at the time of processing.


    • You deal with this stuff every day and I think you’ve just reaffirmed why I created the Web Services product. Thanks. As to the napsack (knapsack) problem, this and other algorithms are available as Web Services and once a company gets used to providing Web Services they may become interested in consuming them as well to solve various problems. Some Pick shop that has solved that and other problems internally may wish to make their solution available for-profit with the new Web Service product. I’ll have a separate blog on this later.

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