Friday, September 21, 2018

Why EDI Truly Is a Success

Jeff Lanford served as an EDI developer for Kids II, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia for over 16 years. In this role, Jeff Lanford evolved the company's EDI platform into a best-in-class solution that helped grow the company into a half a billion dollar business.

Will EDI ever be replaced by another technology? It’s my opinion that EDI will be around forever (or as long as business involves an order, shipment and invoice).

When I began my career in EDI in August of 2000, there were a lot of discussions being had in the technology arena that EDI would eventually be replaced by another solution. During this time, one of the first threats to EDI as touted in popular trade articles was XML. Sure, XML filled a great need as a data format to be easily defined, exposed and consumed from system to system. However, its highly extensible model was too broad for it to become a replacement for EDI. As such, while XML gave rise to new tool sets for interpreting and processing data from system to system, it never took hold as a major player in terms of a data standard that businesses use to exchange electronic documents.

Next in line as a potential threat to EDI was the advent and adoption of web services and APIs. What made these such a viable threat to EDI was the near real-time component that web services and APIs have by design. This movement has been successful yet it still hasn't become a replacement to EDI. I believe the primary reason for this is due to the fact that there is still a strong need for IT architectures to isolate the processing of electronic data. Web services and APIs typically leverage a synchronous transaction model where line-of-business systems are being altered by external trading partners in a real-time fashion. Traditional EDI maintains a layer of protection to the line-of-business systems where validation is isolated from the core business which minimizes the corruption of a given organization's system of record. Web services and APIs do offer validation capabilities and many support this approach, but in my experience, organizations are a lot more effective when employing EDI versus web services/APIs because by isolating validation from the core business, users have a lot more trust in their data and as a result makes them more apt for quick decision making.

What are some other technologies that have posed a thread to EDI?