XML not an integration panacea, says Orica IT manager

Multiple ordering channels streamline sales process

Chemicals giant Orica continues to support ordering from legacy fax and EDI methods in addition to XML, which is not necessarily a path to integration nirvana.

Senior B2B systems engineer for Orica's IT shared services Mark Zrna said the advent of XML has gone against the standards it promised as companies have their own implementations of the technology and have developed their own schema.

That said, Orica does "use a lot of XML" for information integration.

"We have 12 SAP systems across our different business units and we had to take HR information out of each and then convert it into SAP," Zrna said.

Zrna said Orica is "heavily involved" in standards and the company wants to drive standards to help local businesses communicate with it.

Electronic integration at Orica began over dial-up links, but that was too slow and has since been phased out.

Orica purchased GIS from Sterling Commerce four years ago to do EDI, but has since extended it to perform other tasks, like database integration.

"We took Sterling Commerce on board when we were using Gentran, but we have advanced that and now use it for translation and mapping and it gives us a business process map," Zrna said, adding the IT team used to write Unix scripts to map business processes.

"Sterling offers fax to EDI as well as Web forms so it's a value-added network," he said. "Fax to EDI gives us another doorway to customers."

Orica is also using Sterling's Connector X product for payment processing.

"Sterling is flexible and they listen to us as a customer," Zrna said.

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