roadblockAs long as most of us can remember, there have been roadblocks to trading with our suppliers and customers. The noble EDI sales forces kept repeating how their product would knock down these roadblocks faster than a speeding bullet! Well, let's bring in the usual suspects and see.

1. Business processes built around paper handling may not be suited for EDI.
Most processes have already been defined as EDI documents. EDI is a concept to electronically interchange trade documents. Many of the activities included in the established practices have little to do with the current high profile of e-commerce. EDI systems involve the use of rigorous and comprehensive standards defining message structures and content. They effectively replace paper documents such as invoices, delivery notes and packing lists with electronic messages. The use of standards simplifies communication between trading partners, reduces the risk of dispute in any transaction, and makes it easier to translate between different EDI systems. Required changes to accommodate automated processing of business documents could be handled by an EDI Managed Service.

2. Another significant barrier is the cost in time and money in the initial set-up.
A better option than to do-it-yourself is to enlist an EDI Managed Service. Companies offering these services already have the expertise and systems in place and can reduce or even eliminate the startup costs.

3. EDI can save a lot of money if an effective number of partners are identified.
If this number is too small EDI can indeed be inefficient. If your list of trading partners is small it's probably time to call in an EDI Trading Partner Integration service provider.


4. Routers and servers on the net may store e-commerce data for indeterminate periods.
If this is a concern, the centralization of store-and-forward EDI systems via a cloud based system can ensure that the legal relationship between EDI providers (value-added network services, or VANS) and their customers is streamlined. Using a Cloud-Based EDI Managed Service will also ensure data integrity.

5. For e-commerce to work, both online companies and Internet consumers must be willing to disclose information about themselves.
Personal information such as the customer's name, address, and credit card number are necessary for almost all online commercial transactions, and more detailed information about users' Internet behavior is required for Web site customization and personalization. However, not all customers are willing to give up this information, and many are shying away from electronic commerce as a result. EDI can provide the security to make this work.

6. Many view EDI from the technical perspective that EDI is a data format.
It would be more accurate to take the business view that EDI is a system for exchanging business documents with external entities, and integrating the data from those documents into the company's internal systems. Successful implementations of EDI take into account the effect externally generated information will have on their internal systems and validate the business information received. Businesses are also customers of other businesses, so there is no clear dividing line between B2C and B2B e-commerce. Most commerce servers are intended to support the sale of goods and services to consumers on the Internet. E-commerce is expanding through the functionality of commerce servers that can be fully integrated with back-office systems.

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