Joint business venture to improve data communication through e-business

by Canadian Shipper

Mississauga, ON-Logistics Management Information (LMI) has ventured into a new e-business service through Dox2Data Corp. and the Abrica network.

(Dox2Data is a privately held Canadian company that, provides electronic solutions in the B2B marketplace. Abrica is the lead product of Obvious Solutions Inc. which develops software and network services that help SMEs overcome the barriers to e-business adoption.)

Details of the venture were presented June 21 at a breakfast conference in Mississauga, Ontario.

"The transportation industry is still one of the most paper intensive market segments and it just makes sense for us to assist our customers and their carrier partners in automating as many of their processes as possible. It is a win-win solution for everyone", said Liz Gilbert, President of LMI.

The new technology utilizes an internet-based software solution to enable e-business for all companies. Printable forms can be converted into electronic files and transferred to trading partners, including attachments, in a secure and traceable environment allowing companies to trade documents with their business partners economically, efficiently and securely, the partners claim.

Companies that do not have an EDI infrastructure in place, as well as companies that want to automate the small percentage of their processes that are still being managed via fax and mail, can take advantage of the technology.

Using Dox2Data, any company can participate in e-Business and trade documents as both PDF (human readable) and XML (computer readable) files. Regular, non-technical users can map their own documents (using the available wizards), that transmissions can easily include attachments, and implementations can be completed in a few hours for most businesses, and, the client software is free to download and install, and the use of the service involves no change to existing business processes.

The catalysts for the technology, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., include new government rules and regulations that require all companies to adopt a diligent approach to securely manage and control their data. The patent-pending security technologies available through Dox2Data and the Abrica network, including encryption and non-repudiation audit trails that are in place to satisfy bank level security standards, the companies say.

On hand to support the technology was the Honourable John Manley, a senior counsel with McCarthy-Tetrault LLP, who had held several major portfolios in the Government of Canada, and who is Special Advisor to the Board of Directors of Obvious Solutions Inc.

Manley stressed the need for productivity improvement and competition in the Canadian economy in the wake of increased security and an 81 cent dollar.

"Issues of the border have become exceptionally important and Canada is very vulnerable (to security issues) in the aftermath of 9/11. The choice for Canadians is a stark one-do we want to be inside or outside the perimeter?" said Manley, who added that Canada should strive for a "zone of confidence" that would facilitate commerce.

He also said that the new Abrica technology would allow for greater data preparation and more reliable information.

Derek Ritz, CEO of Obvious Solutions Inc. said that the need for increased collaboration in the current security arena has meant some "heavy lifting" with current technology. Even though Canada scores high worldwide in its use of technologies for e-government, EDI penetration is only 2 % worldwide with some 95 % of transactions still executed manually, through fax or mail.

Abrica, he said, represents a "zero-footprint" solution for connecting trading partners.

"Buyers and sellers would use smart e-mail to send RFQs, purchase orders, packing slips, invoices, etc. Abrica installs as a printer on Windows. It does not change the software but prints to an Abrica printer which then interprets the data stream and creates three files, a PDF, an XML file, and an index key file that indicates how the transmission will be stored," he said.

A local audit trail is also created, with http protocol sending an encrypted package with a notary timestamp, and a digital fingerprint of the documents is saved at the notary server. A timestamp is also sent back to the sender to show an audit trail of decryption.

Finally, added Ritz, the software plug-in can be used by the client to pull the XML data directly into, say, a freight management system, reducing keystrokes and the chance of error.

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