The work of two weighty industry groups is converging online in a program they hope will enable a new environment of integrated supply-chain collaboration.
eHitex, the PC-industry exchange led by Compaq Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., has begun doing business based on protocols developed by RosettaNet. Compaq last week became the first eHitex member to automatically load its catalog on the site in a standardized format, using RosettaNet's Partner Interface Process (PIP) 2A1. Quantum Corp., also an eHitex member, said it has completed a similar transaction.
"This is new territory for RosettaNet. And in a lot of respects, it's the tip of the iceberg," said Len Procker, who heads eHitex's RosettaNet project and is on loan from Solectron Corp., Milpitas, Calif.
RosettaNet, a consortium of IT and components heavyweights that is creating a common language for conducting business on the Internet, "originally was conceived of as a company-to-company interface. Now it's becoming a company-to-marketplace, and soon it will be marketplace-to-many," Procker said.
eHitex's next move will be to enable a common purchasing platform. The group is targeting a launch later this month of PIP 3A4, a RosettaNet process for managing purchase orders. Two members are set to test the PIP, but Procker declined to name them.
eHitex inaugurated its auction capability in August, and is developing vendor-managed inventory and logistics services that aggregate demand to even out the fluctuations individual companies experience, said Shireesh Agharkar, director of electronic supply-chain exchange strategies and programs at Quantum, Milpitas.
As early as next month, the site will offer supply-chain collaboration. RosettaNet and other XML-based protocols will be used to allow dissimilar systems to communicate easily, and give partners visibility down into the supply chain to "reduce the whiplash effect of forecasts," Agharkar said.
Solectron, a founding member of both eHitex and e2open, plans to do virtually all of its business via electronic marketplaces, said Phil Fok, director of corporate operations.
The emergence of electronic marketplaces like eHitex will likely lead to new PIPs being developed by RosettaNet, according to Mary Schoonmaker, vice president of marketing at the consortium. But as companies begin to conduct business through exchanges, will they move away from company-to-company commerce?
"I'm not sure it's been determined yet that one will win over the other," Schoonmaker said. "For a company like Compaq, if they can make an investment in a standard and use it in a multitude of places, that's got a lot of operational advantages."