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Computer industry integrates info-exchange

RosettaNet, a consortium of computer biggies, outlines a schedule for implementing supply-chain standards

. A consortium of major computer industry players today outlined an ambitious schedule for implementing new standards for exchanging information among suppliers, manufacturers, and computer buyers.

RosettaNet aims to have protocols for 75-100 types of communications ready to implement by February 2, 2000. Along the way, it has two interim deadlines--one later this month for three pilots to be completed, and the other in August, when five more are due.

"This is the way the computer industry is going to do business," said Ross Cooley, chief executive of PC Order, which creates software to configure PCs according to a buyer's specifications.

"This kind of can't lose," said Kathey Hale, a Dataquest analyst. "It's driven by need, in particular by resellers and distributors. The big part of the IT industry is way under-automated. This is the beginning of supply chain integration."

In fact, RosettaNet is lead by two executives on loan from giant distribvutor Ingram Micro, chief executive Fadi Chehade and Linda York, vice president of operations.

"Not only does it [RosettaNet] work, it will allow us as an industry to take major steps forward," said Ingram chief executive Jerre Stead, mentioning savings on infrastructure and other costs.

The pilots of eConcert, RosettaNet's name for the implementation phase of its work, concentrate on catalog updates and purchasing processes. The RosettaNet standards, called partner interface processes or PIPs, define a "data dictionary" of 3,600 terms with precise meanings.

The PIPs address six activities: partner/product review, product introduction, order management, inventory management, marketing information, and service and support.

RossettaNet's managing board includes top executives of 34 industry players, ranging from American Express, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Oracle, and Siemens.

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