Adoption of ebXML: Hiding in Plain Sight

By Alan Kotok, ebXML Forum

Have you ever misplaced your glasses or keys, only to discover they were right in front of you all the time? This same phenomenon seems to be happening with some so-called experts, observers, and analysts who recently report low levels of ebXML adoption, particularly when compared to generic Web services.

While it is true that ebXML got off to slow start, in recent months the numbers of ebXML users have expanded markedly. Most of ebXML's implementations are different from what the planners of these specifications anticipated, and the ways it has been adopted are different in some respects from e-business adoption in the past. As ebXML has gained end-users, these standards have come to affect millions of lives worldwide. And in some respects ebXML has become part of the basic infrastructure, much like asphalt is to transportation or copper wire is to electricity.

The prospect of expanding e-business to small businesses motivated many of ebXML's developers, and I count myself among them. In fact, ebXML's stated objective was to make it possible for any business of any size in any industry to do business with any other business anywhere in the world. The hope at the time (1999-2001) was that the presence of an accepted international e-business standard would motivate small business software developers to support ebXML. By using accounting software that supported ebXML, for example, small businesses would find doing e-business as easy and routine as their normal everyday accounting.

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