In modern business reality, no company can operate in a vacuum. Every business revolves around communications and strategic partnerships, which increase the demand for a reliable and efficient way of B2B communications.
For many years, to exchange data, companies have been using EDI (electronic data interchange) - a combination of electronic processes, exchange protocols and established, internationally valid business document standards. In essence, EDI provides the connectivity between two or multiple systems or applications (endpoints) for enabling seamless data connectivity and improves cooperation between trading partners and enterprise systems.
Although today EDI is the most common way to exchange business data, it requires a modernized approach to be efficient.
EDI solutions today
EDI has been around for around 5 decades, and it is still relevant today. In the world of logistics, to some extent, almost all companies use it for business communications that are vital for the exchange of goods and services. The most common examples of EDI transactions are shipment status messages, routing and transportation instructions, invoices, payment orders, inventory inquiries, purchase orders, and warehouse shipping orders.
When it comes to EDI communications, companies often choose solutions such as point-to-point integrations via on-premises homegrown systems or legacy EDI infrastructure such as Value-Added Networks (VANs). As a result, when their network of business partners is growing, or business requirements evolve, companies encounter challenges such as lack of scalability and limited functionality of the chosen solution, slow and inefficient onboarding of new partners, and high cost of maintenance and management of the solution in case of having connected three and more parties.
Relying on such a complex and expensive to manage and use legacy EDI solutions, sooner or later, companies find themselves in a position when they cannot meet the requirements of their trading partners or the business environment they operate in.
Modern EDI solutions
To keep up with the constantly changing requirements and data integration needs, companies often choose modern cloud-based EDI solutions that have emerged in the past years as suitable alternatives to restrictive legacy EDI tools.
Due to technological advances, such solutions have significantly evolved from what EDI was 10 to 15 years ago. They are much more diversified and enable companies to integrate with a wide range of trading partners, regardless of protocols, formats, applications, or systems in use.
As a rule, such solutions are built on top of cloud platforms and allow using pre-built adapters, connectors, and integration templates to onboard new partners way faster than with EDI VAN or point-to-point integrations.
Such solutions can often be provided as a fully managed data integration service, which means you do not need to have an IT team to manage and maintain your integrations. Instead, a vendor will take care of all your integration tasks on your behalf. As a rule, such vendors have integration teams possessing all the required skills and expertise to help you with your integrations.
Although managed EDI solutions are ideal for any company regardless of its size or type of integrations, some prefer to go in-house. To understand what option works the best for your case, you should analyze your EDI transactions' current volume and try to anticipate if it changes dramatically in two years. Also, you need to consider how many connections you have now and if the number will increase over time, and of course, you should understand how challenging the integrations might be. Having these numbers in mind, you can gauge if you have enough skills and resources to do integrations yourself or not.
Why choose a managed EDI solution?
Although every business has its own set of reasons to choose a managed solution for EDI and B2B integrations, the most common reasons today are the following:
- The total cost of ownership of the current EDI solution is high and keeps growing with each update or onboarding of a new partner.
- Resource management issues and the burden of having an IT team.
- The onboarding of new business partners is time-consuming.
- A need to have data validation and data enrichment solutions that are often not a part of traditional EDI tools.
- Lack of experience and skills to do EDI and complex B2B integrations in-house.
- Unwillingness to invest in EDI software and inefficient legacy infrastructure.
- A need to work with modern applications/interfaces and systems that have not been designed to work with EDI by default.
Whatever the reason you have to go with the managed EDI, you will get a solution built according to your needs and ensure scalability and flexibility of business communications imperative for your business's constant growth.
Benefits of managed EDI
- Connect with any system and application.
Managed EDI services built on an integration platform ensure that you can connect with any systems and applications, whether located on-premise or in the cloud.
- Receive data in real-time or batches.
Modern EDI solutions ensure that you receive all your data when you need it. You can decide whether you want to accept it in real-time or in batches.
- Have all the data in the right place.
EDI integration can help you have the data in a single place so that all the right stakeholders can access it whenever they need it.
- Receive the data in your preferred format.
Your EDI solution needs to translate the data format so you receive all information in the format that your system can understand.
- Onboard new parties faster.
Rapid onboarding of new stakeholders is vital. It will not only improve your relationship with them, but you can start receiving information from them as quickly as possible.
- Completely remove manual work.
A well-working EDI solution will ensure that you do not need to send any information or validate the messages manually.
- Improve data quality.
Depending on the solution and on your needs, some EDI providers will validate your data and enrich it if you find it necessary.
- Reduce EDI overhead costs.
When you use managed EDI, you don’t need to pay for software or hardware, eliminating personnel costs. You will be able to predict your EDI costs better.
Should you use a cloud-based integration service to manage your EDI and B2B integrations?
If you still question whether you should go with modern cloud-based EDI for your integration needs, do not hesitate to contact vendors providing such services.
Youredi is the leading provider of integration solutions for the Maritime, Supply Chain, and Logistics industries. We work with companies of any size and help them overcome the data integration challenges they encounter in their daily business operations. Contact us, and our experts will be more than happy to help you to make the decision.