This From the Top interview is with Marc Nelson of NetEDI, a UK based provider of online EDI services.
ec-bp: What is the current focus of your company’s business?
Nelson: NetEDI focuses on providing innovative services in order to simplify the integration needs of small and medium-sized business. We provide EDI, B2B integration and VAN Services and like to think we offer a refreshing alternative which aims to give the user a more intuitive experience and greater control.
We offer an On-Demand B2B EDI integration platform providing any business with the ability to trade electronically. We are making it possible for customers to integrate their applications with EDI whilst gaining complete visibility and control over the data through the embedded VAN Services.
ec-bp: How has this focus changed in the last 2 years?
Nelson: The EDI market in general has been continuing to grow but the technology surrounding it remained essentially the same. We looked at the alternatives and wanted to come up with something a little different and offer something that hadn’t been traditionally available. During this period, we concentrated on coming up with what would truly benefit a customer when they are being asked to transact electronically with their Business partners. The impact of the internet and SaaS on the industry was clear to see and we have looked to fully integrate this into our model.
ec-bp: What are your current initiatives?
Nelson: We’re excited about a number of initiatives at the moment. Namely our Web-EDI Integration Service, NetIX and also the well received VAN Service, NeGrid, administered via a unique web interface bringing the EDI network closer to the user.
NetEDI have engineered their own web-based dashboard that invokes API functions for performing Network Operation services such as creating new mailboxes, new interconnects, tracking messages, sending EDI, producing reports etc. Offering all the Operation services that you would normally have to phone a VAN for, the NeGrid interface is very intuitive and also very affordable.
We are dedicated in helping to provide extra value to the traditional EDI products in the market today.
ec-bp: How has the market for EDI changed in the last few years?
Nelson: EDI remains vital to companies wanting to do business electronically in the marketplace today, demand continues to grow and we have seen this in the last few years. The introduction of the internet has had a positive effect on the industry and changed the way EDI can be delivered, taking the burden of hardware resources away from the customer and making it more financially viable.
We believe this trend will continue and furthermore will encourage the larger hubs to enable total EDI compliance with their supplier base.
ec-bp: What are the greatest challenges for your customers?
Nelson: Affordability and deployment. Traditionally, the implementation costs associated with implementing an EDI system and setting up and maintaining EDI connections have been prohibitive to small to medium sized businesses’.
Similarly, the costs and effort associated with migrating away from an existing EDI tool can put companies off and the deployment can prove time consuming.
Maintaining trading partner connections can be challenging at the best of times. Nowadays, it is necessary for a business to be able to establish connections with their partners using many different communications protocols. Again, cost and logistics for the set-up and maintenance can be difficult.
ec-bp: How are you helping your customers address these challenges?
Nelson: NetEDI offers an On-Demand B2B EDI integration platform providing any business with the ability to trade electronically. The platform is offered as software-as-a- service which means up-front investment and therefore, risk, is minimised and implementation times are significantly shortened than with traditional on-premise software deployments.
Where migration is concerned, NetEDI have considered this at length in coming up with specialised migration tools which ease the transition and greatly reduce the effort involved. We have had some positive results thus far and hope to break down the prohibitive barriers that have traditionally tended to steer potential customers away.
In terms of handling trading partner connections, our NeGrid network provides a single platform which makes it possible to communicate via the many different protocols in today’s marketplace. We like to call it an on-Demand, Cloud Computing model for B2B/Network as a Service (NaaS).It provides the customer with the ability to act as their own Operations department in giving them the control to track/resend data, add mailboxes/new connections. It is removing the limitations of IT budgets, IT Staffing, EDI expertise and EDI systems from the equation.
ec-bp : What about integration with existing applications?
Nelson: NetEDI’s Services are 100% hosted and will work with most ERP systems and B2B software. Again, no premise-based equipment is necessary for integration with NetEDI, saving companies from having to maintain on site hardware and lowering overall cost. Our integration adapters enable businesses to exchange business information such as sales orders and invoices directly into and out of the vast majority of today’s back-office systems.
Furthermore, we are now offering something quite unique in the marketplace today. We have recently launched our Agile ERP functionality which empowers users with the ability to transact their EDI business directly from within their ERP System. Setting up new EDI customers, searching for EDI traffic, creating new interconnects is now possible from the comfort of their very own ERP system. This is true integration.
Marc Nelson has nearly 20 years experience in IT. With a mixture of Accounting/ERP Software development, EDI development and consultancy, Marc is well positioned to advise on various aspects of ERP/EDI integration.
His career started as a Junior Software Developer at a small development house in the early 1990’s, designing and developing Accounting, Payroll, Credit Card and EDI systems.
Working in development roles for various software companies between the mid to late 90’s lead to a key position in a new EDI start up at the end of 1999. Here he designed and developed an EDI integration system that is still in use by thousands of companies in the UK today. From 2004 onwards he moved into more of a Consultancy role, visiting high profile clients to discuss and design their EDI solutions. Throughout his time at the EDI start up, Marc always maintained a keen eye on the EDI network side and this knowledge was to become vitally important in his next move.
In 2010 Marc was asked to join NetEDI Ltd, based near Preston, in the UK, as Business Development Director and assume the role of driving the business forward both in terms of Sales and Technically. The launch of the NEGrid (EDI Van) and NetIX (Cloud based Integration server) services are a result of the design, technology driven, and efficiency based thinking of Marc and his partners.
He is a firm believer in enabling firms to be more efficient through the use of strategic technology.