Recently we had the opportunity to talk with one of the “near great” visitors to Nice: Todd Gould, President of Loren Data. His company is the leading Electronic Commerce Communications Provider (ECCP) firm in the EDI industry. An ECCP is a neat way of handling all your EDI communications in a centralized and efficient manner. An ECCP replaces a VAN for you; but if your trading partner utilizes a VAN, an ECCP still interfaces with your partner through his VAN. An ECCP is far less labor-intensive for you than either AS2 or MFT (Managed File Transfer).
We met at a beach-front cafe right next to his hotel, the famous “Palais Méditerranée”. While Jen, his wife, went off to explore the “Monday Market” at Cours Saleya in the Vieux Nice, Todd kicked off our discussion with the statement: “Interconnects are what make a network a VAN”. We thought about it for a couple of seconds and quickly agreed with him. He is so very correct. If a network cannot (or will not) interconnect with all the trading partners, then it surely has no value added.
Companies (GXS specifically) are sabotaging the VAN Network by refusing to interconnect with other networks. Is this company trying to “corner” the VAN market or kill the VAN and replace with their own proprietary network? They already “ate up” (politely: mergers) some of their competitors. Bet they want to end up as the only way for a company to reach ALL their trading partners.
But Todd’s little company is going after them in the US Federal Court system. Sounds like they are really scared of him too.
The truth of the matter is that the growth of EDI is “sort of flat”. The big companies already have their trading partners ramped in, and the smaller companies do not have the “clout” to do the same with their even smaller partners.
We understand that a leading Supply Chain/Electronic Commerce online magazine will be addressing a new approach to increasing the number of new EDI implementations: “Hubs and Spokes, Spokes and Hubs”.
Much of the EDI community sticks with a VAN because it is an outsourced operation and because many of us hold to the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”