E-COMMERCE TRENDS: KODAK’S EXTRANET PUSH Eastman Kodak Co. is rapidly expanding its use of…


Eastman Kodak Co. is rapidly expanding its use of extranets to cut costs and boost sales by sharing critical information with major business partners. Kodak has created extranet links to about 25 organizations, including dealers, contractors, joint venture partners, and subsidiaries, and is adding new extranets at the rate of two per week. It is considering linking electronically to key suppliers and retail chains as well, says VP and CIO John Chiazza.
To boost its revenue via e-commerce, Kodak is also developing virtual private networks over which customers such as major retailers can place product orders using a Web browser. About 40 Kodak retail customers accounting for about $1.3 billion in annual revenue already use the networks. “The initial focus is on the consumer business,” Chiazza says.
The extranets are being used mainly to exchange information. Kodak continues to rely on electronic data interchange for transactions, but the company is talking to some partners about the potential for conducting transactions over the extranets. “We’ve been involved in B2B e-commerce for many years as a user of classic EDI, but what has been emerging recently is more intimate interactions through the use of extranets, where we or our customers can reach into certain internal applications, so that, for example, we can learn how products are moving through their stores and do a better job planning for future orders from them,” says Chiazza.
The extranets let authorized users at other companies “tunnel” under Kodak’s firewall to access specific servers and even specific applications, Internet, intranet, extranets, and groupware users. Authorized outsiders can get past Kodak firewalls and run applications, as they need to do so. Joint venture partners have access to even more resources, such as intranets, databases, and mailboxes. Some of the networks give Kodak access to its partners’ applications.
The extranets enable Kodak and its partners to automatically post product pricing, immediately update product literature, manage inventory, exchange information on jointly developed products, access accounts, and check the status of orders and shipments. To ensure that only authorized users get under the firewall, Kodak uses an extranet management and security system that includes integrated VPN (virtual private network) services, as well as data encryption and authentication for security. Administrators can define privileges based on user identification, the method of authentication and encryption, the information resource being accessed, company affiliation, and day and time.

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