Pretty as a Picture [LinkAGE / General Electric]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
LinkAGE: News about Electronic Commerce
Picture this: Less than two years ago, Kodak’s electronic 10 commerce efforts were hit-or-miss, with no centralized electronic data interchange (EDI) system.
Across Europe, Japan, and the United States, each Kodak operating unit comprised more than 200 order-entry systems with separate EDI systems-and each unit was doing business on a stand-alone basis. Kodak handled its electronic transactions in batches instead of real-time, forcing customers to wait as long as a day for a response. The decentralized system was expensive, error-prone, and did not have any document-tracking capabilities.
It was time for a change. Kodak wanted to consolidate and integrate internal operations by implementing SAP’s R/3 software. The challenge was to find a system that would reduce infrastructure while connecting SAP applications to its external business partners around the world. Kodak’s solution was GE Information Services’ (GE) Enterprise System.
REDUCING COSTS, CYCLE TIME, ERRORS
Enterprise System is an advanced message manager and corporate gateway solution. By providing a single point for messaging, tracking, and application integration, it allows customers to link business information flows across diverse applications, internal systems, and external business partners.
Fully operational at Kodak by April 1998, Enterprise System also enabled the company to migrate data from its legacy systems to the new SAP system, says Duane Cook, Kodak’s electronic commerce business process manager.
“We are replacing a large portion of our internal infrastructure with the SAP system, and Enterprise is managing all the EC [electronic commerce] data, while reducing our worldwide external infrastructure. That’s why we chose Enterprise,” he says. “It’s a global solution.”
The company now has a single, centralized EDI process that satisfies global requirements and, Cook says, significantly reduces costs, cycle time, and errors. Batch processes that took hours to complete now are finished in minutes, thus enhancing the company’s responsiveness to customers, suppliers, and carriers. However, Kodak has still more plans for Enterprise System.
“We look at Enterprise as a solution that goes beyond EDI and plan on using it for a lot of our commerce,” Cook says. “Today we have linked our EDI; tomorrow we may want to use it to bring in our web and IVR [interactive voice response] processes.”