Don’t get caught up in the three letters (E, D, and I)

By Bob Raida on

This month one of my customers is in the early stages of a migration from JD Edwards to Dynamics.  In planning they were sure to clarify that they needed to be able to import and export certain types of transactions in order to facilitate their streamlined interface with our service.  No problem.  Later, as the project was kicking off, someone mentioned that they use EDI and the software consultant panicked.   The mention of these three letters suggested the need for additional software modules, mapping, configuration, and a whole host of testing procedures.  What they didn’t realize is that Foundational handles all that stuff so EDI migration doesn’t need to be a major undertaking.  Once I explained to the consultant how we operate and told the customer to not call it EDI (half kidding, because it certainly is EDI) then the project proceeded smoothly.

For years I’ve struggled with what to call the services and software that I promote, simply because in the world of enterprise technology, EDI is often looked upon with disdain as a necessary evil.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Furthermore, in the world of innovative and hip technology, when I tell people I work with EDI they ask “isn’t that the 40 year old technology that companies still have to use?”  My answer is that yes, it has been around a while, but at its core the technology is all about moving data.  And furthermore, I’m not picky about how that data looks or how it moves.  While some file formats and communication methods are traditionally associated with EDI, as long as the data is accurate and its movement streamlines the business process on all sides then translation/movement of this data as “e-business” has real merit.

In the spirit of moving data, I’m in favor of the “any to any” model.  If you would benefit from receiving data from someone you do business with, and they can provide it in some format, let’s connect those two dots.  Call it EDI if you want, call it e-business, but let’s do it as effectively, as simply, and in a manner that’s as scalable as possible.  Whether you need to process data that’s received in a database, via XML, http, or PDF, you can use the same foundational technology that is used in traditional EDI in order to process that data and make it useful to you.  Regardless of what you like to call it, the end result is streamlined process with no errors.

Here are a few examples of nontraditional EDI that we’ve facilitated seen in recent months.

  • Extract data from incoming PDF files to create machine readable files
  • Combine incoming material test reports with a bill of lading so that the outgoing bill of lading automatically contains the data requested by your customer
  • Facilitate transactions between broker, customer and vendor where data needs to be pulled in from each source to make a complete transaction.

Each of these examples resulted in streamlined process, eliminated data entry errors, and happy trading partners (i.e. our customers’ customers).  Call it what you like, when you can move data automatically, quickly, consistently and cost effectively it is a win for you and your organization!

Foundational e-Business offers a variety of business to business e-commerce services, including cost effective EDI (and all manners of e-business) services and consulting.

What would you like to do with e-business?