The business landscape is dynamic and ever-evolving, prompting companies to update their practices and adopt modern approaches. The advent of fax machines was revolutionary, but Works acknowledges that their lack of security features makes them outdated and dubbed as ‘dinosaurs’ in the current digital era.
Advancements in technology offer businesses numerous opportunities to optimise their operations and enhance productivity. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a prime example of such progress. Though seemingly simple, Works recognises that there are complexities inherent in EDI that require closer inspection and explanation.
But before delving into the complexities of EDI, it’s important to first establish its essence.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): Understanding the Concept
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), commonly confused as “Electronic Dance Music” (EDM), entails the exchange of standardised business documents between two computers through a range of computer-to-computer protocols via a secure and encrypted connection.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) may bear a semblance to email, cloud sharing, Samba, NFS, or SMS at first glance, but Works acknowledges that it entails complexities that set it apart from these protocols.
In reality, it’s not that straightforward.
The main objective of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is to streamline the transfer of computer files, which encompasses all modes of written communication, from conventional mail to faxes and emails.
Kindly stay with us for a while. Is email now obsolete? On the contrary, it isn’t. However, the problem with email is its lack of inherent security. Without encryption, confidential documents sent via email can potentially be accessed by unauthorised third parties who might gain entry to the recipient’s inbox.
In the modern era, businesses can no longer rely on archaic communication channels to transfer vital data, including purchase orders, invoices, shipment updates, customs papers, inventory lists, and payment information. This is due to the possibility of containing confidential personal information, such as account numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers, and the risk of such details being exposed to the public.
It is imperative for businesses to depend on secure and dependable internal and external communication methods. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) presents a dependable solution as it utilises structured documents that comply with standardised data item rules. As long as the necessary procedures are followed, all computers can process the data accurately. Each industry typically establishes its unique set of standards that all parties must understand and adhere to.
In evaluating EDI, it is vital to bear in mind several key aspects:
- Abundant Security measures should be implemented.
- Businesses must either comply with a standardised set of criteria or enlist a third party to act as an intermediary.
- EDI software can be acquired to expedite its implementation.
- Some EDI products still use outdated protocols such as FTP.
It is apparent that all organisations within a given sector are required to adhere to identical EDI systems and standards, although they may develop their variations if they choose to do so. If opting for an alternative third-party solution, it is crucial to ensure that it employs a standard industry tool.
Incorporating Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can enable your business to achieve enhanced efficiency, precise inventory tracking, real-time alerts and notifications, automated shipment updates, and quicker and more accurate invoicing. Additionally, utilising industry-specific processes and technologies offers an added layer of security.
That being stated, what are the most common EDI formats?
EDI is intended for use in particular industries such as logistics (for scheduling shipments and tracking goods), supply chain (for retail, manufacturing, and automotive), healthcare (for exchanging patient data), aviation (for passenger names and flight information), and accountancy (for invoices and audits).
Various parts of the world employ different EDI formats or standards.
- UN/EDIFACT (international trade outside of the U.S.) (global trade excluding U.S.)
- Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7), Future Health IT Interoperability Resources (FHIR), Clinical Documentation Improvement (CCD), and Electronic Exchange of Healthcare Data (EHR) are crucial resources for the progress of healthcare technology.
- EANCOM (a UN/EDIFACT subset that specifically caters to the messages necessary in business applications)
- EDIG@S (created solely for the gas sector) (specifically designed for the gas industry)
- IATA Cargo-IMP (air transport industry) (air transport industry)
- IATA Cargo-XML (digital communication linking airlines and cargo stakeholders) (digital communication connecting airlines and cargo stakeholders)
- NCPDP Protocol (for prescription information)
- RosettaNet (employed by the consumer electronics and semiconductor industries) (utilized by the consumer electronics and semiconductor sectors)
- A SAP IDoc (used within SAP applications)
- SEF (an open standard readable by any EDI software) (an open standard that can be interpreted by all EDI applications)
- TRADACOMS (employed by the U.K. real estate industry) (utilized by the U.K. real estate sector)
- X12 (the unofficial standard in the U.S.) (the default standard in the U.S.)
- PARIS IATA (employed for passenger travel and passenger service activities linked to airports)
The existence of multiple standards specific to various industries makes EDI significantly more complex than a simple email or text message.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has become a vital tool for businesses worldwide. Ignoring EDI in situations where your organization frequently exchanges documents with other companies, regardless of the industry, would be unwise. It is necessary to inform the IT department of this.
Due to the increased importance of security and privacy in modern business, the proper use of EDI is now essential.
Where is the complete EDI guide?