General Electric, Thomas Edison's 20th century company that brought electricity to America, now wants to bring e-commerce to the world. With that in mind, General Electric Information Services (GEIS) announced here yesterday that the organisation will split into two new companies: GE Systems Services and GE Global Exchange Services.
"The old e-commerce was about eliminating paperwork," said Harvey Seegers, president and CEO of GEIS. "The new e-commerce is about supply chains operating through spontaneous, real-time, public networks."
The new companies will get a sizable investment from GE. GE Global Exchange Services will focus on Internet Data Exchange, Enterprise Application Integration, procurement software and services, and trading partner exchanges. It will inherit the large trading network consisting of more than 100,000 trading partners currently operated by GEIS. Seeger will be president and CEO.
GE Systems Services is charged with the mission of building a new Internet engine to support GE Global Exchange Services.
"Our goal is to migrate from proprietary applications and networks to standard, Internet-based systems and networks," Seeger said.
Jim Macioce will be the president and CEO of GE Systems Services.
Seeger also announced a new, Java based, object-oriented architecture for business-to-business e-commerce called ICA (Internet Component Architecture).
Trade Fusion, a new service built on ICA, includes a business-to-business translation engine, real-time transaction support, and native support for XML.
Standards for formats such as XML remain a problem in business-to-business e-commerce. During a panel discussion prior to the announcement by Seegers here Monday members voiced their concerns.
"There are still over 200 versions of XML," said N. Arthur Smith, president and CEO of the Electronic Commerce Council of Canada. "If we can¹t address concerns such as these, electronic commerce will just mean that we send more garbage faster over the Internet."
There was widespread agreement, however, that if these problems can be solved the promise of e-commerce is real.
"It means nothing less than a synchronised supply chain," said Greg Girard, an analyst at AMR Research in Boston. "This offers substantial savings to everybody, including the very small suppliers."