El Segundo, California-based Infonet is hoping to take Electronic Data Interchange into the international arena with a series of new alliances around the world. At present, claims Infonet, Electronic Data Interchange as a business practice is by and large restricted to companies, and divisions of companies, dealing with each other in the same country: with […]
El Segundo, California-based Infonet is hoping to take Electronic Data Interchange into the international arena with a series of new alliances around the world. At present, claims Infonet, Electronic Data Interchange as a business practice is by and large restricted to companies, and divisions of companies, dealing with each other in the same country: with the new alliances and its existing international network, Infonet intends to make global paperless trading possible. The six partners announced today are: Railinc, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, which provides communications network and data processing services to the railway industry – its role will be to supply Electronic Data Interchange and other value-added services to the transport and shipping industries; Telefonica de Espana, which recently signed a technology transfer pact with Istel, and is using its Edict software – this will be interfaced with the Infonet network; Telecom Australia, which provides the Tradelink Electronic Data Interchange service mainly to the domestic automotive industry; Cable & Wireless Hong Kong, which supplies the IBM 4381-based Intertrade and also uses Istel software; Singapore Network Services, which links the domestic trading community with government authorities; and US software house Supply Tech Inc, which will be supplying the translation software required. The idea is that Infonet will supply each of these partners with its global message tracking services and nationally-based support facilities, enabling them to offer their Electronic Data Interchange customers an international service on top of the existing domestic one – in return, Infonet will take a share of the revenue coming from international data transmission. Infonet reckons that international trading will account for around 20% of the total Electronic Data Interchange market: however, given that there will inevitably be other operators, with other networks, that will want a share of this 20%, and that Infonet’s alliance partners will naturally be taking their share of any revenue coming from the Infonet network, the question remains is whether the Electronic Data Interchange market will be big enough in the foreseeable future to attract the kind of profits needed for it to take off. A recent market forecast, which suggested that the total business for 1990 will be around $300m, would seem to imply that it could indeed be worth Infonet’s while. Infonet, until last year a wholly-owned subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corp, now has a string of minority shareholders including Transpac SA, France and the Deutsche Bundespost, 15% each; Belgium’s Regie des Postes et des Telecommunications; Telefonica de Espana SA; Teleinvest AB, Sweden; and the Dutch and Swiss PTTs in Europe, each with 5%; and Telecom Australia and Singapore Telecom International in the Far East, also 5% each. Computer Sciences’ stake is now 35% and a further 5% will shortly pass to another non-European.