OBI Consortium members will meet on December 16-17, 1997 for the 2nd Roundtable Forum, to be held in Boston, MA. The focus of the two day meeting will be on refining the scope of the existing OBI standard, finalizing the OBI certification process and reviewing case studies detailing the significant progress being made by member companies in their business-to-business commerce efforts. The OBI standard which provides a uniform approach to high-volume, low-dollar purchases over the Internet, was first released in June 1997 and has quickly evolved to become the industry’s defacto business-to-business Internet commerce standard.
At the Roundtable Forum Meeting, members will be discussing long term strategic planning with particular emphasis on the evolvement of the OBI standard. The strength of the OBI standard will be significantly enhanced by defining and developing new standards that cover other areas of the procurement process. Members will also be drafting version 1.1 of the OBI standard, to be released in Q1, 1998. President of the OBI Consortium, Neal Casteel of National Semiconductor noted, “The OBI Consortium is a cooperative forum that provides members with ongoing technical innovation, support for pilot projects and most importantly a real voice in the future direction of the OBI standard itself.” He added, “There has been a significant shift in the dynamics of how the OBI Consortium is operating as working groups made up from member companies are increasingly becoming responsible for the day to day running of the Consortium. The result is that the combined needs of the buying, selling, requisitioning, technology and payment organizations represented in the OBI Consortium membership are all being met.”
What is the value of membership in the OBI Consortium? Doug Bailey, Business Development Manager, Electronic Commerce, BOC Gases explains, “BOC gases has worked closely with our customers over several years to develop electronic commerce services. With the value of supply chain management and Internet-based electronic commerce becoming more widely adopted, the need for a standard process is clear. As a member of the OBI Consortium, BOC can stay abreast of leading edge thinking while continuing to enhance our capabilities.” Hewlett-Packard’s EC-EDI Strategic Planning Manager, Sandy Whitson added, ” The OBI Consortium creates the opportunity to define business fundamentals and technical requirements necessary for business-to-business electronic commerce. This should enable buyers and sellers to more easily adopt and quickly attain benefits from electronic commerce.” Another new member Rohm and Haas Company, clearly stated the advantages of OBI membership, “The OBI standard gives vendors and customers a generic solution to interfacing over the Internet that still allows for some freedom in how each party would like their systems to work” stated Laurie Mestres, Business Analyst.
Internet business-to-business commerce is entering a new phase of corporate commitment as members are able to detail the bottom-line value of OBI-compliant applications. For example, OBI capability was a necessary requirement for Kinko’s Inc., the copy-center and office services chain, when they selected Actra’s BuyerXpert for use on its extranet, soon to be handling over 50,000 transactions a month. Similarly, Shell Oil have identified many benefits of the OBI standard, not least its ability to act as a catalog aggregator. The first real proof of concept has been very successfully achieved by the first live pilot scheme between Office Depot and Motorola, using Intelysis software. Currently transactions are coming from 3 Motorola sites and trial users have been quick to endorse the new scheme and particularly like the added control they have. The dynamic nature of the Office Depot catalogue allows end-users at Motorola to search, select, obtain pricing, check on-hand inventory, backorders and status information on existing orders.
New OBI Consortium members Bellcore, BOC Gases, Dun & Bradstreet, Fisher Scientific, Graybar, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, and Rohm and Haas Company have joined 33 other Fortune 500 companies including Actra, American Express, Ford Motor Company, G.E., IBM, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and Visa.
The Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) Consortium is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing open standards for business-to-business Internet commerce. Membership in the Consortium is open to buying and selling organizations, technology companies, financial institutions, and other interested parties on an annual fee basis. The Consortium provides a forum for standards development, education, and compliance certification. For more information on the OBI Consortium, visit [www.supplyworks.com/obi].