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Update to Market Impact of the ebXML Infrastructure Specifications


The original posting of this article on November 26, 2001, led to some very interesting and at times heated discussion on a couple of listservs. After considering these discussions I thought it appropriate to clarify a few points and to make a minor revision to one of the assessments.


I suspect that some of the more extreme dissenting opinions of my assessments might have been somewhat less extreme had I been more specific in defining "critical mass". According to my definition of "critical mass" even EDI as currently implemented hasn't achieved critical mass. I would regard critical mass for ebXML as adoption by most of the Fortune 1000 and a sizeable percentage of other organizations. If we take the U.S. as an example, I recall estimates that there are somewhere between 8 and 10 million businesses that could conceivably use EDI, but only one or two hundred thousand actually do. Considering this abysmal adoption rate for EDI, if ebXML were adopted by even 10% of SMEs it would achieve critical mass.


"Critical mass" for the Registry Services specification needs a somewhat different definition than the other specifications, since I think it unlikely that in the next five to ten years that there will be more than a few handfuls of XML or e-Business registries. Critical mass for the Registry specifications is implementation by a sizeable plurality of all production registries, perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% to 40%.


I also want to explicitly state that I was assessing Version 1.0 (or thereabouts) of the specifications as released in May 2001. Leaving aside the various arguments about assessing V 1.0 of anything, I chose this version because my previous articles on the infrastructure specifications also dealt with those versions. I may revise my assessments as the ebXML infrastructure work evolves.


Finally, I find it interesting that although there were comments on my assessments of every one of the specifications, the assessment that dominated the discussions was that of the CPA/CPP specification. I hesitate to infer very much from this, but because of it the CPA/CPP assessment is the only one that I am revising. A good point was made that the analogy between the X12 838 transaction set and the CPA/CPP specification is not as valid as I implied (though I think they still have a lot more in common with each other than a negotiated modem handshake!). Configuring systems to achieve secure, reliable data exchange over the public Internet is inherently more complex than configuring EDI systems to exchange data using VANs. Regardless of whether or not the ebXML messaging system is used, the CPA/CPP may be a useful aid in that configuration. However, past experience has shown us that in new technology rollouts, vendors often implement a subset of features that they regard as being the minimum required to meet market demand. Current trends with ebXML software seem to be confirming this. On this basis I will not rate the CPA/CPP as high as the Messaging Service specification. So, I have raised the CPA/CPP assessment, but not by very much. I rate it a .3 probability of achieving critical mass.


January 23, 2002

© Michael C. Rawlins