Editor’s Introduction 2(4)

International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 2, Number 4, Summer 1998, pp. 3.

When introducing to you a broad analysis of electronic cash in an earlier issue of this journal, I mentioned the then-ongoing Hong Kong pilot of Mondex, a leading smart card-based e-cash offering [1]. Now, J. Christopher Westland and his associates provide the results of timely survey-based research on the pilot’s outcomes. Repeating several earlier experiences in the environments that should have been highly receptive, and repeating them under subsidized conditions, the pilot showed very limited merchant and customer acceptance.

The anecdotal evidence of more recent pilots of Mondex’s use for on-site purchases, such as that on Manhattan’s West Side in New York City, also points to resistance. The issue, at least among customers, appears to be simply habit and the perceived comparative convenience of paper or species. It may be that the incorporation of card-based e-cash such as Mondex into systems that inherently call for them–for example, into kiosk- or PC-originated purchases–will ultimately lead to wider acceptance.

Major innovations, the Internet perhaps most notable among them, are ‘liberated’ from their dormancy by an event that emerges suddenly. Their use then grows organically. All the planning and piloting cannot substitute for a strong need perceived by the customers in the light of the options well familiar to them.

The three subsequent papers in the issue address the implementation of electronic data interchange (EDI), a fundamental technology of business-to-business electronic commerce. In the first of these, Pat Finnegan, William Golden, and Denis Murphy investigate the nontechnological factors that are important to the success of an EDI implementation. They analyze the experience of a representative sample of firms that have implemented EDI and offer a ranking of the crucial success factors.

In the next paper, Gregory E. Truman investigates how best to implement EDI. On the basis of existing knowledge of EDI use, he identifies two possible strategies a firm can pursue. The first is the volume strategy that aims to expand the use of a single transaction type with as many business partners as possible, and then moves to other types of transactions. The other is the diversity strategy, in which the firm attempts to initiate multiple interrelated transaction types with at least one business partner and subsequently expand the diversity of transactions and partners, thus also growing the volume. Surprisingly, it emerges from this work that it is the diversity strategy that may be expected to lead to more efficient performance.

A more detailed approach to the EDI implementation issue is taken by Sangjae Lee, Ingoo Han, and Hyogun Kym, who study how controls affect implementation of electronic data interchange. Because highly experienced personnel are generally removed from such functions as accounts payable when EDI is implemented, risks to the integrity of the financial flows between enterprises increase and new controls need to be introduced. The authors classify EDI controls into three categories and empirically establish how these categories relate to the integration and utilization aspects of EDI. Taken together, the two preceding papers and this work give us an increasingly fine-grained view of EDI implementation.

Vladimir Zwass Editor-in-Chief

Reference 1. Clemons, E.K.; Croson, D.C.; and Weber, B. W. Reengineering money: The Mondex stored value card and beyond. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 2, 1 (winter 1996-97), 5-31.