from the front line - Library of Commerce?

Over the past several years, I have often been asked by prospective trading partners, "who can I get to ‘sell’ e-commerce to my company?", or "where can I find information on all of the facets of e-commerce?"

I have recommended the usual magazines, and suggested that the numerous EDI software companies could offer insight as to how to enter the e-commerce arena. Recently, I came across several sources new to me.

While surfing the Web – not on company time – I entered ‘electronic commerce’ into my search criteria, and was presented with 309,587 hits. Most of these home pages were advertisements for consulting firms, software houses, reprints of articles, etc. But there were also two sites included in this list which I thought deserved a second look – and These sites touted themselves as ‘the Buyers Guide to Electronic Commerce’ and ‘the most comprehensive resource for electronic commerce,’ respectively.

After a few Internet e-mail messages, I was able to speak with Jack Shaw, president of Electronic Commerce Strategies in Marietta, Ga.

Jack informed me that he founded the original company – EDI Strategies – in 1984 and changed the name to its present format in 1994. The main content of Jack’s Internet site is a extensive collection of electronic commerce topics. Jack explained the origin of this guide saying, "In 1987 we recognized that there was no single source of these types of information for EDI and the other electronic commerce technologies then available, and began publishing the printed version of the Buyers Guide. In the early ‘90s, we began adding information relevant to the whole expanding field of electronic commerce. When the Web appeared, we immediately recognized that it was a logical way to extend the reach of the Buyers Guide globally. We brought our site up in April 1995; it was one of the first 10,000 sites on the Web."

The site contains 18 separate subject links, covering such areas as EDI Management-Midrange – which list the eight top midrange EDI software companies – and a list of their products/services, as well as a slick calendar of e-commerce events for a rolling eight-month period. Jack notes, "The site, which is updated every week or two, currently gets over 5,000 hits per week."

The second Internet site – – banners itself as the ‘Electronic Commerce Knowledge Center (ECKC).’ In addition to the e-commerce knowledge center, there are also knowledge centers for data warehousing, telecommuting and small/home office.

After the easy registration, I entered the site and discovered it consists of four main areas: literature, products, services and events. Within the literature category, there were 30+ references to the latest published articles on e-commerce. These sites appear to be updated every day, a rare find on the Internet. The other three categories also have numerous references covering just about everything you would want to know about e-commerce.

The site sponsor is listed as ‘The Foundation for Strategic Enterprise Knowledge Centers.’ I sent an e-mail to their site – requesting additional information about their purpose – and received a response quickly.

The stated objective of the ECKC, a not-for-profit organization, is "to unite electronic commerce users, vendors, consultants and other important parties into mutually beneficial relationships."

Their audience consists of more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and educational institutions, reaching into more than 65 countries. The initial funding and vision for ECKC came from Ladd Cristensen, through a public-private partnership.

If you need to be updated on what is happening in the overall e-commerce community, I suggest you bookmark these two sites and visit them often.

--Bob Lewis is VP of IT at the FoodService Purchasing Cooperative Inc. (Louisville, Ky.). He can be reached at