LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Small to mid-size businesses looking to catch a lift to profitability on the VAN now have a better ride, according to president and CEO of Accpac International David Hood.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company

launched Exchange Transaction Manager at Accpac Partnership 2002 on Sunday

With the release of Exchange Transaction Manager (ETM), Accpac’s first electronic data interchange (EDI) product, small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) can now significantly reduce costs by creating trading communities with their suppliers and customers by sending EDI transaction documents over the Internet, according to Hood. Using IBM’s Business Exchange Services as a hub and hosted by Accpac Online, the company’s application hosting facility, ETM enables companies to send and receive transactions such as purchase orders for as little as $100 per month instead of $1,000 per month through an EDI value-added network (VAN).

“”Accpac Exchange is all about seamless connectivity between businesses,”” Hood said at his keynote address. “”SMBs never could implement EDI ever since 1980 because it is too complex and too expensive. Exchange delivers EDI as a Web service,”” he said.

According to Giga Information Group Inc., North American EDI transactions will grow by over US$500 billion from 2001 to 2005, with a projected decline in VAN-based EDI transactions and continuing growth in Internet-based EDI transactions during that time.

Mike Burch, president of BurCom Consulting Ltd., in Edmonton, believes EDI VAN will be displaced within a few years.

“”It only makes sense that it would. The cost savings from both ends is just too significant. It will not be a long process. Once the word gets out and people start seeing success stories, then (products like Exchange) will start flying,”” Burch said.

BurCom has already implemented Exchange for SunFresh Farms, a wholesale fresh foods company, based in Edmonton.

“”We have a market for EDI and it has been growing over the last couple of years,”” Burch said. “”We have done a couple of implementations with EDI and we and the client were not too impressed. When I mentioned Exchange to SunFresh, the client was already calculating their cost savings during our presentation.””

Burch sees an even bigger opportunity in the oil industry in Alberta, which has been struggling with the high cost of EDI for years. With ETM, a VAR does not necessarily have a one-on-one relationship with its customer. For example, SunFresh can be a hub for a set of suppliers for BurCom because the low cost of entry means a VAR such as BurCom can easily convince all of SunFresh suppliers to be serviced by it.

“”Our business is doing services. That is what we are looking for is the service revenue. That guaranteed cheque coming in every month is going to be very nice,”” Burch said.

One of the biggest problems a company such as BurCom encounters is convincing an organization to spend $20,000 to $30,000 on an EDI implementation.

“”For a small business that is a lot of money,”” Burch said.

Exchange is available for $5,925. Accpac licensed the ETM technology six months ago from Burlington, Ont.-based Ebridge, who then helped develop the new transaction process software.


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