In previous issues we discussed the role of enterprise portals (corporate portals) as a central gateway to the enterprise. This column continues the theme. It discusses business-to-business (B2B) trading communities such as RosettaNet and Commerce One. Next month's column will discuss Microsoft BizTalk. We will then look at the use of XML for enterprise application integration (EAI) within and across enterprises. We will also look at some of the products and services that are available to support EAI.

Much has been written about business-to-consumer (B2C) electronic commerce via the Internet. One of the best-known examples is Amazon.com. B2C e-commerce is growing rapidly, but it pales into insignificance when compared with the rapid growth of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce.

The GartnerGroup, in February 2000, projected that the B2B market ­ which was worth $145 billion in 1999 ­ will grow to $403 billion in 2000, $953 billion in 2001, $2.18 trillion in 2002, $3.95 trillion in 2003 and $7.3 trillion in 2004. In this same period, B2B e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) will grow from $9.2 billion in 1999 to $29.9 billion in 2000, $93.4 billion in 2001, $258.5 billion in 2002, $510.7 billion in 2003 and $995.8 billion in 2004.

Growth of the New Economy

We are witnessing the most significant and rapid transformation of business as the world moves online. B2B e-commerce is generating an earthquake of change. Large, established bricks-and- mortar enterprises of the old economy will fall unless they also become as nimble as their new competitors: the dot-com businesses of the new economy. By forming clicks-and-mortar strategic alliances, these old economy strengths are also merging with new economy flexibility.

B2B trading communities are rapidly evolving so that old economy businesses can achieve enterprise application integration (EAI) between the databases, systems and workflows of their organizations and their suppliers, customers and business partners. Based on the extensible markup language (XML), access is provided seamlessly by XML to structured data in operational and legacy systems and databases as well as to unstructured data in documents, reports, e-mail, images, graphics, audio and video resources of these many different enterprises.

The corporate portal (or enterprise portal) is a central gateway to the databases, systems and workflow of an enterprise. When personalized to the job responsibilities of employees via the intranet, the corporate portal provides a seamless, single point of access to all of the resources that employees need to do their jobs. When further personalized securely via the Internet and extranets to the interests of suppliers, customers and business partners, the corporate portal becomes the integrating conduit of the many disparate databases, systems and workflow each enterprise uses to carry out business with others. It also becomes a single place to manage rapid enterprise change. We will now examine B2B trading communities.

RosettaNet ­ a trading community for the computer and electronics industries ­ was established in May 1998, with IBM and Microsoft testing the first XML-based partner interface processes (PIPs) in April 1999. The initial focus on electronic ordering, pricing and adding products to catalogs had expanded by December 1999 to 10 PIPs. These had been completed for basic supply chain functions to distribute product information, for purchase order management, for querying technical information and for transferring shopping carts. RosettaNet now also includes many organizations, such as CompUSA, Compaq, Ingram Micro, 3Com, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, SAP, Quantum, Federal Express, UPS, Arrow Electronics, Avnet and Marshall Industries. More information is available from RosettaNet at http://www.rosettanet.org/.

Commerce One has positioned itself as a leader in global e-commerce solutions for business. It established the Global Trading Web, so that buyers and sellers around the world can trade in a barrier-free environment ­ creating business opportunities for all trading partners. It offers a number of trading solutions: for companies who want to establish a portal on the Global Trading Web; those who want to host portals for others; and those looking for a comprehensive e-procurement solution. Its products include the Commerce One BuySite, an e-procurement application, and the Commerce One MarketSite Solution so that Internet market makers can build open marketplaces and link them to the Global Trading Web.

For enterprise buying organizations, Commerce One offers e-procurement solutions to streamline procurement operations, while they offer a way to streamline selling and order entry processes for suppliers ­ with access to the buying power of the trading community on the Global Trading Web. For Internet market makers who want to establish an e-marketplace on the Global Trading Web, they offer solutions to help set up a B2B portal as a service to customers and partners. More information about Commerce One is available from http://www.commerceone.com/.

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