YOU KNOW YOU'VE MADE it when people start looking at you with dollars in their eyes.
Increasing rumors of buy-outs, mergers and deals are a sign of EDI's rising success and status as an industry and a technology.People with money are looking at EDI. Some are trying to buy. Not many are actually purchasing, for a variety of reasons.
We do think that EDI is a very attractive, high growth area, says Don Gooding, director of research, Acel Partners Inc., Princeton, N.J.
Acel specializes in digging up venture capital for promising computer software and hardware ventures. EDI companies would be near-perfect targets for that kind of funding, Mr. Gooding said.
The EDI industry has spawned a large number of entrepreneurial companies particularly in the software arena, he said. For a company looking to invest, the problem is that good targets are hard to pick out.
As yet there don't seem to be any early market leaders emerging, says Mr. Gooding. This may be bad news for potential investors, but it's good news for entrepreneurs. The field is still wide open, he said.
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WHO ELSE WILL BUY? When it comes to spending the bucks, companies inside the EDI industry are as likely as outsiders to buy other companies outright.
Perhaps the most common scenario will be electronic communications networks picking up software suppliers, Mr. Gooding and other experts say.
Many companies in the business of moving electronic documents already have deals set to market the products of software publishers. Purchasing instead of licensing would only be a small step forward, they said.
I know of some service companies that are looking to acquire software companies, Mr. Gooding said.
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SHAKESPEARE WAS RIGHT about those lawyers, EDI executives agree.
Most of those in the EDI industry quite agree with the Bard's line: Kill all the lawyers.
Drawing nods of agreement sharp enough to cause whiplash at the recent EDI Summit Conference staged by Boston-based Yankee Group was a warning by an executive to keep lawyers away from the EDI process.
Lawyers and EDI don't mix, several speakers warned at the event. Lawyers love all the boilerplate on the back of paper documents; EDI takes that away, speakers noted.
Users of the technology can quickly and easily reach agreement on the terms and conditions involved in replacing paper documents with computerized ones. Lawyers see only opportunity for disaster, the speakers noted.
Our worst troubles have been with our legal organizations or our trading partners' legal organizations getting involved, said Chuck Walters, manager, customer projects/XCEL, Xerox Corp., Stamford, Conn., in comments echoed by a number of speakers.
Lawyers and increased productivity, it seems, just don't mix.