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Arena opens up to mass-based services

About a year-and-a-half ago, Cargonet, the EDI technology used to link-up transport providers such as carriers, forwarders and terminals, became Internet enabled and was renamed Arena which stands for Net-enabled EDI ( www.arena.com.hk).

"It is a new service that is accessible to a wider user base, to shippers big and small in Hong Kong," described Dave Lee, who took over as CEO of Arena late last year. Before taking up the post Lee, worked as strategy development manager for Hutchison Port Holdings, an Arena shareholder, where he was responsible for mapping out the company's e-commerce and business direction in South China.

"Dave Lee has an impeccable track record in strategic planning and marketing. His management strengths will be of great benefit in helping the company realise its full market potential," said John Clough, chairman of Arena, on Lee's appointment.

Lee spent three years with The Boston Consulting Group in Asia, having started his career as a sales engineer within Oracle Corp's direct marketing division in the US. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School of University of Penn, a Master of Engineering degree in engineering management, a BSc in electrical engineering, and a BA in economics from Cornell University.

With a new CEO, Arena got additional funding for business development, with shareholders injecting an additional US$10mn in capital within this year. The money will be used to beef-up Arena's technical infrastructure as well as extend its sales and marketing reach into key vertical industries and regional markets.

A new revitalised Arena team...CEO Dave Lee (left), and Lawrence Yip, business development manager

"Business to business electronic commerce is poised to take off in Asia and we believe that Arena now has the right product and business model to really succeed in the market," said Clough. "The board has therefore endorsed a plan to rapidly expand Arena's sales and marketing infrastructure to capture market share."

Arena aims to be the leader in enabling paper-free supply chain communities. Supply chain EDI would mean interconnections with partners such as marine cargo insurance, the Government for trade declarations, banking systems, trade documentation.

"As Cargonet, we were the transportation community's EDI enabler. We now extend that service to a wider, mass-user base by going on the Internet and allowing both small and big shippers in Hong Kong to use our services. All that is needed is a PC bundle with capability for Internet connection, and the whole supply chain from buyer to supplier will be available to the shipper online," said Lee.

Arena Web is a fully intuitive trading environment enabling users to deal electronically with their business partners through a single, consistent, point-and-click interface. In effect, Arena Web gives users their own online trade document system. Arena Web is designed for companies that do not have their own automated business management system. Major functions include:

Create, send and receive electronic business documents such as
  requests for quotations, purchase order, PO acknowledgement,
  shipping instructions, packing list, B/L, AWB and invoices, and so
  forth.
Automatic capture and reuse of data between documents, eliminating
  the need to re-key and data and improving accuracy.
Data validation at the client user interface.
Full audit-trail maintenance.
Trading partner directory.
Directory of WTO merchandise codes.

The Arena Web Application Server, based on Lotus Development Domino Server, runs a full-function business-to-business e-commerce application for Arena Web customers. It also managers Arena Web customers' data and handles data transfer to and from the Arena Message Broker.

At the heart of the Arena Network is Message Broker, a state-of-the-art system that integrates and exchanges information between applications. The system supports sophisticated flow control, connecting multiple programmes and a variety of communication models苛seamlessly and simultaneously, providing event-driven, real-time services.

Arena Link is a secure client gateway designed for companies with a computer system that automates business operations. The Arena Link software securely connects these systems to the Arena Hub over the Internet, enabling automated transmission of e-commerce data to and from the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.