XML Can Work for You

Did You Know...? 

XML Can Work For You
The GAWDA Management Information Committee works on a variety of different areas when it comes to computer automation Few have as much potential benefit to distributors as the XML project the committee has been working on for the last several years.

What XML is, isn't nearly as important as what it does. In a nutshell, XML makes it easy for two totally unrelated computers to talk to each other. A perfect example is your computer talking to a vendor’s computer. Why would this be beneficial? That part is simple: To save you and your vendor lots of time on the telephone each day.

Every day, distributors pick up the phone, call their vendors and ask very simple questions, such as, "Do you have this helmet in stock? If you have it in stock, what is my price?” Each time a distributor calls, the inside sales team is tied up on the phone waiting for the answer and a customer is waiting to see if they want to buy the product.

The Management Information Committee, with the input of software companies, distributors and vendors, has established a standard method of asking this simple question. It's this method that can be implemented by any software supplier and any product vendors. This is referred to as the XML Pricing and Availability Standard.
Here’s how it would work: When a customer wants to know if you can get a certain product from the vendor, instead of calling the vendor, enter the part number into the computer. 

The computer would then send out a message to the vendor’s computer asking for your specific price on the item in question and how many are available. The vendor’s computer receives the request and, in a matter of seconds, sends the response back to your computer. What might have taken multiple phone calls and tied up at least two people is now handled in seconds. The best part is, the answer can be retrieved while your talking with the customer.

If this sounds like it could benefit your company and help them to become more productive, give your software supplier a call and ask them what is required to get this capability installed on your computer system. Then call your vendor to make sure they are incorporating the XML standard into their system.

Technology Advisory James R. Broughton is a member of GAWDA’s Management Information Committee and president of DataWeld.

This article originally appeared in the Fourth Quarter, Fall 2007 issue of Welding & Gases Today Copyright ©Data Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.