Sami Tähtinen 14.07.2020 7 min read

From power sockets into shipping events

I was cleaning up my laptop bag the other day. Among all random trash I found my old and reliable universal power adapter. You know, a gadget that makes it possible to plug my laptop, phone charger, and other electrical equipment to any electricity socket across the world. Apparently, I haven’t used this adapter for a while, but it made me think of standardization on a more general level than usually.

The standardization of electric outlets is an absolute requirement for us to use electric devices in the scale we are doing today. Standardized socket types, standardized voltages and AC frequencies make it possible for manufacturers to mass-produce electrical devices without worrying how they will be installed into the electricity network – standardization enables “plug’n’play” installation that we all can do without electrical engineering skills. And even though there are different standards worldwide, they are not changing rapidly due to the massive amount of physical infrastructure in place, making it possible to create things like that universal power adapter, without it being rendered obsolete very quickly.

As we know, there are a lot of ongoing standardization efforts in the logistics industry regarding information exchange between different stakeholders. Many of the current initiatives, such as DCSA maritime standards and IATA ONE Record on air cargo, are attempting to bring the industry to the 21st century; they are trying to move the industry landscape away from old EDI based messaging variations that are based on ancient paper-based processes, and leveraging modern IT and networking infrastructure that allows information to be queried from the source, thus enabling “single source of truth (SSOT)” principle.

Even though applying modern standards to the existing business processes does not in this case require changing billions of physical sockets and plugs, adopting new standards still is not a piece of cake. Huge efforts have been made over the previous decades to create an operative network between different stakeholders using old standards. Even though new initiatives would provide much better interoperability, more real-time communications, more reliability due to having less different versions of “the truth”, and more flexibility, migration to the new standards will not happen in a day – or a year. This is due to required changes in existing business applications, processes, and even in some extent to the operational models of the players in the industry.

However, we (as most of the industry) are certain that adopting new standards will improve interoperability in a way that is on a long run beneficial to all parties involved and serves the industry better than any of the small-scale, local optimization initiatives. But as this adoption is time-consuming and potentially quite expensive, how should we ensure that new standards will get a good start and help the industry from day one – while still giving time for individual organizations to change their own internal implementations and processes according to schedules and timeframes that fit best the individual company?

Back to the universal power adapter I found from my laptop case. I believe it is natural for any international traveler to use these small gadgets instead of purchasing and carrying around native power sources for all the different socket types that can be found across the world. Quite similarly, for any organization exchanging information in the global logistics network, it is not required to be able to communicate natively with all the existing standards – legacy, modern, or in-house – used by different counterparties, if the similar idea of “universal adapters” is applied.

Modern managed iPaaS is the universal adapter in the global B2B communications. You can connect to an iPaaS solution, communicating with the standards and protocols that you are familiar with, and iPaaS solution will manage all the required protocol, message format, and business process adaptations between you and your trading partners. As there are much more variations in the messaging in global industry than there are different electricity socket types, letting an integration partner to cope with all these adaptations gives you much better possibilities to focus on your core competencies than creating all the adaptations by yourself.

Considering the adaptation of the new standards in the global logistics industry, we need the network effect ensuring that the critical mass of new standard implementations will be reached as quickly as possible; only after this is reached, new standards will be able to carry themselves and feed the innovation and performance of the global supply chain – benefiting everyone. To speed up the adoption, managed integration providers are in a key position – enabling existing technologies and implementations to interact with the modern, growing network of truly interoperable systems worldwide.

Youredi is one of those innovative data integration providers who fully supports standardization initiatives and helps companies operating within the Supply chain and Maritime Logistics industry to adopt the changes and avoid the risks of migration towards new opportunities.

Would you like to know more about Youredi and how we help industry-leading companies with modernizing their data connectivity? - schedule a meeting with our team of integration experts.

Also, you can participate in our webinar to learn more about the recent development of the DCSA standards and how quickly deploy DCSA compliant data connectivity with any business partner, regardless of technology and formats they use.

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Sami Tähtinen

Chief Architect, Youredi