ED gets XML

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Express Data (ED) has become the first Cisco distributor in Australia and New Zealand to complete the rollout of an XML-based order and dispatch system which it claimed has already lifted productivity by 60 percent.

The system enables Internet-based communications between the distributor and Cisco of XML documents between their respective ERP systems.

Using the RosettaNet standard, Express Data can place 95 percent of its Cisco orders, worth $10 million a month, via an XML interface. The rollout began last November in Australia, and in Express Data's NZ premises last December.

Peter Stein, e-business manager for Express Data, said the rollout was part of a global adoption by Cisco of an XML-based ordering and shipping system via its Gold Partners, but was the first implementation in Australia and New Zealand.

'In New Zealand, they have saved half-a-day every day [by using this system] – that's about a 60 percent productivity improvement – and although they shift less stock than us the results are comparable here,' Stein said.

Using XML meant the system was not dependent on the type of platform or operating system used. The new implementation cuts double-handling of orders because the order only needs to be entered into the system once.

After that, a series of automatic XML electronic document dispatches, incorporating two-way checks and balances, help complete the order and arrange shipping and delivery with minimal operator input. Data updates from the US confirming the order and estimated delivery date arrive overnight. 'The information you get back on our system is a lot more up-to-date and faster than our competitors would be able to achieve,' Stein said.

Staff could thus be re-allocated to 'more proactive' roles, directly generating business instead of maintaining and filling orders.

In time, the rollout could be extended to Express Data resellers. 'We have about 5,000 reseller partners, and I would guess 1,500 to 2,000 of them would deal with us on a monthly basis and thus benefit from adopting some part of this system,' Stein said.

'The productivity gains are something resellers can get if they walk down the XML path.'

Erica Deacon, Internet commerce manager at Cisco in the Asia-Pacific, said the rollout was one of the fastest the LAN switching and IP router giant had done worldwide. 'Express Data and Cisco had very tight timelines they wanted to keep. Cisco continually works to improve and streamline our business processes through the channel,' she said.

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