Electronic trading is necessarily about moving information across systems, allowing (at a corporate level) organizations to exchange information quickly and accurately, and (at an individual level) people to access common sources of information easily, irrespective of where they are based or, indeed, of the type of technology they prefer to use. This means that electronic trading projects depend as much on integration between systems as they do on particular applications, the vast majority of which are imperceptible to the people using them. What can look like a common point of entry for different groups of people can, in fact, be more like spaghetti behind the scenes.
It was certainly something like spaghetti that BAE Systems faced as it sought to link its 32 different ERP systems together in order to improve its procurement processes (most of which, not surprisingly, were still done manually). The solution was obvious - a single procurement gateway - but how would it be connected to everything else? The system would have to translate data from the procurement gateway into formats that could be used by the other systems, and vice versa. Similarly, voting channels cannot be treated independently: the only way to avoid fraud is to ensure that they all update one central database. ‘Pull' from the users' point of view therefore has to be balanced with behind-thescenes push: standardization, simplification and centralization.