Feature

Users unite to create best practice standards in electronic business



David Bicknell

Confectionery giant Nestle is behind a new e-business organisation, launched last week, which aims to drive the adoption of best practice and standards in e-business.

The group, UK Partners for Electronic Business, has government backing and hopes to drive adoption of "cost-effective open standards" by the small- and medium-sized businesses that are a key part of bigger supply chains.

UKPEB is the latest in a series of retail organisations backing standards for e-business. These include the Interactive Media in Retail Group which recently conceived the Greenwich Electronic Time "date-stamping" concept for electronic transactions, as well as the Global Commerce Initiative, an attempt by large retail and manufacturing organisations to drive worldwide EDI and e-business standards.

Last year, 30 firms, including Unilever, Tesco and Wal-Mart, signed up to GCI to develop the first internationally agreed protocols. They are concerned that a profusion of incompatible EDI, barcodes and radio frequency tagging systems, are pushing up costs of trading internationally and slowing down delivery times.

"When trade was national, it wasn't a problem. Now companies are sourcing globally, manufacturers are having to use more than one EDI standard which is making life complicated," said Peter Jordan, director of European operations at food manufacturer Kraft Jacobs Suchard.

UKPEB, which is backed by the BSI, e-Centre and the Simple Trade Procedures board is expected to "drill down" from the international position outlined by GCI and focus on eight objectives. These include:

  • defining areas where transparent open standards are allied to the best company, technical and administrative practices needed to support electronic business
  • encouraging key bodies to work with each other to dev- elop best practice and standards to the benefit of UK plc
  • explaining to a "wider UK community" how the building blocks of electronic business fit together
  • agreeing the UK stance on international standards and best practice for electronic business.

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    This was first published in February 2000

     

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