Volume 8,  Issue 4                         July/August  2006

Driving Technology
understanding today's business practices

Unraveling Technology Terms 
by Gary Hart

This month we introduce a new column which is designed to help you maneuver through our increasingly technology-oriented business world.

One benefit I greatly enjoy in attending industry conferences and trade shows is talking to a lot of people. Inevitably, one of the most frequent conversations I have with retail glass shop owners is about industry technology terms such as EDI, electronic authorizations, etc. With so many different electronic programs and requirements now in place, it is no easy task understanding or navigating technology in the AGRR industry. Letís try to break the code together and make technology in the industry easy to understand. 

For starters, letís look at EDI, short for electronic data interchange. Simply put, EDI is the computer-to-computer exchange of structured information, by agreed message standards, from one computer application vendor to another. This exchange occurs by electronic means and with a minimum of human intervention. In the AGRR industry, EDI is understood to mean the specific interchange methods for the transfer of network or insurance invoice transaction data between a retail glass shop and its trading partner such as a network or third-party administrator. Despite being relatively unheralded in this era of Internet technologies, EDI is still the standard format used by the vast majority of vendors in the industry with the exception of a few companies that offer Internet-based alternatives that have little to no cost.

Assign and Authorize
Other confusing technology terms in the industry are electronic work assignment and authorization. Neither of these terms has anything to do with EDI and presently only pertain to the LYNX Services program and its technology partner, Glaxis. Point-of-sale vendors that offer LYNX electronic work assignments and authorizations do so by passing data between LYNX and the retail shopís point-of-sale system by means of a technology service offered by Glaxis. There are many benefits for the retail shop to have these Glaxis services enabled, including decreased frequency of mistakes, discount compliance, elimination of double-entry of data and decreased administrative overview. When EDI is combined with electronic work assignment and authorization, the benefit is reduced errors and a shortened time frame between receipt of job to receipt of payment.

Look-up Licensing
Next on the list we have NAGS and, more specifically, the licensing or ability to look up NAGS pricing in your point-of-sale system. At some point in your tenure in the industry, you may have found yourself purchasing or changing a point-of-sale system and paying a yearly per-user fee to receive NAGS updates and perform NAGS look-ups. Time and time again the question comes up: Do I have a license to use NAGS and can that license be transferred? The short answer is that you have an agreement with the point-of-sale vendor to perform NAGS look-ups based on the number of users for which you have paid. The agreement is non-transferable and is usually sold on a yearly basis. Given that the agreement is non-transferable, you will have to engage in a new agreement and pay new fees should you choose to switch point-of-sale vendors. The fees involved with NAGS agreements typically are bundled with yearly technical support fees. Your point-of-sale vendor has an agreement with NAGS to distribute the quarterly NAGS updates at any price your vendor sees fit; however, this price is usually a pass-through of the costs associated with the agreement your vendor has with NAGS.

Lastly, a final technology question that is frequently asked is what Glaxis is. From its Website: Glaxis is an eBusiness solutions unit of PPG Industries that combines cutting edge technology with a customer-focused vision to deliver value to the auto replacement glass industry. 

Glaxis offers solutions to your point-of-sale provider that mostly serves LYNX; however, there are some Glaxis solutions that are tailored to industry wholesalers. Glaxis solutions such as electronic assignment, authorization and scheduling make it easier for you to work with LYNX electronically.

In terms of technology, the AGRR industry is in the stone age compared to other industries. We lack solid technology standards and, as a result, are forced to struggle with understanding what exactly is going on and what it all means. 

Gary Hart is chief executive officer and president of eDirectGlass, Scottsdale, Ariz.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.