The Web GL - mating with it


NetLedger is at --you can request a test drive by logging in there. 

You know, whenever something like this comes along which is a whole new paradigm, literally a new industry being born, everybody is going to want to mate with it somehow, but you cannot mate with a web form... in fact there will be less role than ever before, for CPAs or accounting software VARs, or programmers, Netware consultants, MCSEs, RCMPs etc.

Nevertheless the word Oracle Financials and Franchises has been appearing often enough that you could envision starting an ecommerce company really easy with this thing:

"The model is integrated outsourced apps for small business," said Mirbach. Later plans include the ability to integrate with central offices running Oracle Financials, for instance in an extranet or franchise business environment.

While the whole rest of the internet commerce industry goes thru generations of EDI, XML/EDI, vertical portals, payment backends, billing consolidators, OBI, OFX and wars of attrition, any two companies on NetLedger will be purchasing/selling complex inventory and product of all kinds by executing a SQL Query at the speed of system memory, inside a secure environment. (The JournalBus feature is not announced on any WebLedger yet -but it is a matter of destiny, says this observer.)

Microsoft, Borland, Sun, Netscape, IBM all have one thing in common: they make money selling development tools to unsuspecting developers. They must sell hundreds of thousands of copies, far more than the intrinsic programming problems require.

But these whole development environs are fighting the last war --these companies are building better and better development IDEs and programming languages for building fine-grained human interfaces and general purpose software object hierarchies. Think about it---who the hell needs those, when *every* individual and company ledger is kept in perfect order by electronically communicating with trading partners, or kept in a RDBMS at Oracle headquarters? You agree on a deal with any other company, and an intercompany journal entry is posted. This is frictionless commerce. There is no 4.5% credit card fee. There isn't even a bank! The interface for buying and selling is not intrinsically that complicated.

There is no necessity for 1000 different, incompatible accounting packages, programmed in Microsoft Visual Studio running on LANs, all over town. Those are nothing but custom-fitted harnesses tailored to the backs of mules, who are stupid enough to buy them.   Developers must convince you they are needed, to survive.  So keep a level head, ok?

Bottom Line: you question whether the whole programming scene is going to go off a cliff; people and companies might truly be able to get their needs handled better cheaper faster without ever going anywhere near software development.

OK then, what does frictionless commerce mean? We love Web GLs, but how can CPAs "mate with them" and continue to make a living?

Well, let's assume that 6 - 12 months from now, NetLedger and its competitors all support secure intercompany transactions, and there are gateways enabling you to post to the other leading WebGLs equally as easy as dealing with companies on your own NetLedger, Biztone, etc. server.

Let's also imagine that there will be programmatic interfaces into and out of NetLedger. Their user license prohibits automated posting of any kind-- but whether they like it or not, the nature of their software architecture enables 3rd parties to query the database and post transactions. Anyways, competitors won't be so shortsighted--they will welcome the business. Furthermore, any 3rd party service provider could set up a clearing or posting business into NetLedger by running a separate accounting dialtone, to which you could  transmit an invoice, a PO, payment request, or other business docs in XML. The service provider's primary businss might be a billing consolidation service, payment service, etc. but as additional value, would find a way to get your data efficiently into your NetLedger, individually or perhaps aggregated.

The first real oppty is to watch very very closely those commercial enterprises that come online using webledgers such as NetLedger, and look at their prices. Their prices will be systematically lower than the rest of the US economy. Extablish a role as an arb or trading company pulling deals out of NetLedger vendors and distributing them to confused and higher priced physical markets, paper based markets, or overseas buyers.

Many niches will exist for service sector of the economy. For example witness the profusion of online calendars, and online time and billing systems. Quite obviously those will be blown away by the first good Web Calendar with a Webledger bolted on underneath it. You're looking at an architecture that will enable, for the first time, a truly efficient partnership accounting that is 100% transparent to all partners, viewable from remote locations, etc.

Let's create a business model for accountants using Web GLs to serve small business.

TB 8/11/99