Exostar breakthrough links supplier systems to internet

aerospace: Technical hurdle to companies participating in global exchange overcome

THE FOUNDERS of Exostar, the online aerospace exchange, have hailed the connection of Boeing suppliers to the new network, via their existing systems, as a major breakthrough.

Boeing has been working for several months with Exostar’s technology partner Commerce One on a pilot scheme to link Exostar to trading partners that use electronic data interchange-based systems.

Although EDI has significant limitations when compared with internet-based e-business, it is deeply entrenched in the supply and sales operations of many major companies in the aerospace and other industries.

Exostar’s founders, which also include BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, were concerned that their suppliers and partners, especially the smaller ones, would be reluctant to abandon EDI systems built up over many years at great expense.

Boeing and Commerce One said the success of the trials would give hundreds of aerospace companies the opportunity to connect quickly to Exostar with minimal disruption to their existing systems.

They will be able to migrate at their own pace to the internet-based XML platform while continuing to use EDI.

As well as giving more suppliers the chance to participate in the project, Boeing and its partners believe the development will help Exostar achieve the critical mass of participating companies needed to establish it as a viable trading platform.

Commerce One worked with e-business connectivity specialist GXS to develop the necessary solutions. The two companies recently formed a strategic alliance to look at new ways of opening e-marketplaces quickly to reach the maximum number ofparticipants.

Founders of electronic marketplaces in sectors with complex supply chains, such as the automotive industry, have identified system integration as an early potential hurdle.

If Exostar is successful in getting a large number of players involved in the exchange early on, it could boost the credibility of B2B e-commerce beyond the aerospace industry.