It's all too easy for a star-struck business manager to set up a Web-based front-end ordering system. But, as any under-consulted IT professional will wryly point out, that's a long way from e-business. To ensure rapid fulfilment of orders and better customer service, the Internet front-end needs to link efficiently with the business and administrative processes, and especially with external distribution, transport and manufacturing systems.
Many e-commerce sites are currently creaking at the seams, with countless unheard screams in cyberspace.
So it's none too soon that an important new group - UK Partners for Electronic Business - will shortly fire up to ensure common codes standardise links between the Internet, simplified EDI systems, banks, government and business. Major organisations involved include Apacs, BSI, Citu, DTI, Sitpro, and E-Centre.
This is not yet another treacly academic standards body set to slow things down. Quite the opposite. The key architects of this initiative include the EDI pioneers from the 1980s who put the UK and Europe ahead of the US in this area.
This is excellent news for business-to-business Internet-based activity which requires higher levels of predictability, accountability and security than its business-to-consumer counterpart.