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Many sectors of the Australian economy have, in recent years, undertaken an analysis of their supply chain structures. Each sector has determined the underlying technologies to be recommended for use on the basis of past practice in that sector and, in some cases, international practice in the sector. In this article, the authors examine the current role of e-transactions within the context of Australian supply chains.

Our analysis indicates that there is a bifurcation of technical choices along the demarcations of XML and EDI business solutions. For instance, while Mining and Finance have gone the XML route, Wholesale and Retail Trade, along with Transport and Storage have chosen EDI. Moreover, the Health sector appears to be leaning towards keeping both options open to its organizations.

We argue that two factors will need to be considered which will be affected greatly by this parting of the ways on the technology issue. One is the concept of ‘design for supply chain’ which involves demand generation through joint development of new products and the flow of material across different supply chain entities. The second is the impact of the growth of global trade within international economic blocs.

A natural conclusion is that Australian industry must support a merging of EDI and XML standards.