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Herding Geese: The Story of the Information Supply Chain

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Steve Keifer

Welcome to the world of B2B e-commerce - the little-known sibling of the very cool and popular B2C e-commerce. B2B e-commerce technology is the plumbing that connects networks of business partners together electronically. Hospitals use it to process health care claims. Institutional investors use it to place stock trades. Manufacturers use it to purchase raw materials. Retailers use it to manage inventory. I know what you are thinking - Ugh! What could be more boring? But, the world of B2B e-commerce is anything but boring. In fact, B2B is home to an unusual set of dynamics that would qualify for the next Freakonomics book. This is a sector where cutthroat competitors from GM and Ford to PepsiCo and Coca-Cola unite in joint ventures to solve common business problems. This is a sector in which 35 of the 50 largest US companies including Chrysler, Boeing, Kraft, Dow and Chase have either funded technology startups or acquired them in hopes of obtaining competitive advantage. This is a sector where technologies developed in 1965 still dominate newer substitutes introduced in 2005. This is a sector in which the non-profit standards organizations compete more ferociously than the for-profit technology vendors. Most importantly, B2B e-commerce is a sector which is playing a critical role in solving some of society's greatest problems. B2B is at the center of health care reform, homeland security and manufacturing competitiveness in the US. And it is a key requirement to enabling growth in emerging markets in Asia and harmonizing the European Union. Herding Geese explores the business value that B2B e-commerce provides in five different industry segments manufacturing, retail, government, health care and financial services. Topics covered include: E-procurement EDI networks Data synchronization RFID and barcodes Electronic Health Records HIPAA clearinghouses Medicare fraud monitoring Single European Payments Area FIX Networks Straight Through Processing Electronic invoicing