Make e-business, not GST

Make e-business, not GST

by Paul Montgomery

Rather than preparing for the introduction of the goods and services tax, dealing with the disruptive influence of the Internet is more important during this year, according to a visiting software expert.

Dave Coulombe, VP for strategy and research at Great Plains said that companies should not believe that they can wait and see how the Internet would be a "disruptor" to their industry.

"We believe that if companies don't spend the time to understand where e-business is going, they will be sorely disappointed," he said.

Common wisdom among Australian business is that we are running anywhere up to two years behind the US in terms of adoption of Internet technologies, but Mr Coulombe did not agree.

"People have been telling me that, that your tech adoption is a couple of years behind," he said. "I haven't necessarily seen that from the people I've talked to."

Mr Coulombe said there were five areas which Great Plains had concentrated on with its own efforts on e-business: the transactional backbone of logistics and supply chain management; customer-facing applications like customer relationship management, employee-facing applications like corporate portals; business networks; and knowledge management, which is where it includes the developer's enterprise reporting tools.

"One of the holy grails of computing has been knowledge management," said Mr Coulombe. "Like e-business four years ago in the US, KM is at the same stage of misunderstanding and hype. We would include reporting, decision support, senior executive dashboards in a definition of KM technology, but we would also throw in workflow and document management into that."

Great Plains recently acquired a company called FRX which develops a high-end financial reporting tool, which Mr Coulombe said was used by most ERP vendors. On the knowledge management side, Great Plains works with companies like FileNET, although there are not any formal relationships. Mr Coulombe said in the absence of a standard for interoperability of workflow and other bank-end applications, there was still a need for vendors to provide the "plumbing" for systems to support e-commerce.

"People are selecting the e-business software, whether it is FileNET or a roll-your-own workflow or document management solution. Until we get a true standard to evolve, we believe enterprise application integration is something to [help companies] evolve that quickly."