REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK ORDERNET GETS INSIDE TRACK FOR SEATTLE PORT'S DATA PACT

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK ORDERNET GETS INSIDE TRACK FOR SEATTLE PORT'S DATA PACT

ANY PORT in a data storm. Sterling Software Inc.'s Ordernet Services division is the leader in the battle to supply paperless-trading software and communications services to the Port of Seattle.

A task force has named Ordernet as the supplier of choice, says Brian Dearing, Ordernet vice president, marketing.Several more hurdles need to be passed before Ordernet has a lock on the deal. Seattle's port commissioners have final say on any agreement. And details of any deal still must be negotiated.

Winning the contract would be an important coup for Columbus, Ohio-based Ordernet. Competitor GE Information Services has invested considerable time and money going after the maritime electronic communications marketplace. The centerpiece of GEIS efforts has been the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Automated Cargo Expediting System.

Like ACES, an Ordernet system would rely on strictly standardized electronic messages for communicating with shippers, ocean lines and other outside parties. Mr. Dearing knows the details of GEIS operation very well; he moved only recently to Ordernet from the General Electric Co. subsidiary.

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TO SERVE MAN. You win some, you lose some. Corporations may think they'll end up with radically reduced staff levels when they use paperless trading. For some business sectors, that won't be the case, believes Bob Canis, vice president, marketing, American Business Computers Inc.

Mr. Canis is a true old-timer when it comes to electronic data interchange, a technology that allows companies to conduct business through computers using strictly standardized electronic messages.

Although most pundits see EDI as a means rather than as an end in itself, Mr. Canis thinks differently. The power of EDI has been gravely underestimated, he says. No one knows all the benefits that will result from its use. Mr. Canis thinks they'll be large enough that inevitably companies will create departments dedicated to the technology. At American Business Computers, he's working with technology to enable companies to create in-house local electronic networks that can control EDI use in many departments from a single source.

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DIFFICULT CROSSINGS. Crossings Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based company that specializes in customs-oriented paperless trading consulting and software, reportedly has hit some rough waters. Klaus-Dieter Naujok, who was a full time consultant for the company, is now dedicating his full-time efforts to his own consulting company, Tri-C-Onics Ltd., also of Ontario. Mr. Naujok specializes in dealing with the United Nations-backed EDI for Administration, Commerce and Transport standard.

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DO YOU KNOW THE WAY to San Jose? If you're an employee of the former McDonnell Douglas Applied Communications Co., you'd better. Last year, British Telecom PLC purchased McDonnell. The renamed BT Tymnet Inc. has told its EDI- Net services employees it wants them to relocate from St. Louis to company headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

About 30 staffers are believed to be involved, and not all of them are happy about the idea.

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THEY'RE JUST SPREADING all over. The amount of space taken by exhibitors at the X12/DISA EDI '90 Conference and exhibit continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years.

Three years ago, exhibitors took 58 both spaces. Last year, 123 were needed. This year, conference organizers say more than 150 spaces were taken.

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PAPERLESS TRADING isn't child's play.

But don't tell that to Bob Crowley, president, C.W. Consulting. Mr. Crowley recently started his own consulting firm in Lodi, N.J. He noticed the application forms for membership in the Electronic Data Interchange Association, Washington, had space to list a number of staffers.

So he included his wife and kids. Diane Crowley, present at the X12/DISA conference, only acknowledges that she works with Mr. Crowley, not for him. As for the children, salary negotiations are said to be quite heated.