EDI and X12 Continues as Primary Data Exchange Protocol for Intercompany Commerce


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is one of the most resilient and productive technologies used in business-to-business (B2B) integration throughout the supply chain. When, in 1972, the American National Standards Institute chartered the Accreditate Statndards Committee X12 (ASC X12) to develop uniform standards for interindustry electronic exchange of business transactions-electronic data interchange (EDI), a vital tool in the modern business world was born. The X12 standards were designed to work between firms across various industries and the standards are constantly updated in committee using consensus procedure, to reflect the base of standards users. EDI is not dominated by a single firm or industry. Currently there are over 300,000 organizations that use one or more of the over 300 EDI transaction sets to conduct business.

Increased interconnectivity through the Internet has seen a rise in EDI as the computer-based b2b format of standardized data exchange. Simple online tutorials and web-based support have come to additional functionality to EDI, allowing firms new to electronic B2B transactions insight in how to organize their data according to a specified format set by both parties and create a “hands-off” computer transaction that is automated and reduces human error.

As EDI applications are merged with XML-based solutions, the elegance of that technology allows for process-driven implementations and managed automation that can respond to specfici business processes with respons, content, and ongoing transactional activity.

ebXML has emerged as a false competitor to EDI, based on its potential to take basic data functions one step further. ebXML has much greater capacity for data transfer than EDI, so many organizations have used it to add flexibility and legibility to their documents. EDI and ebXML are not easily converted into one another. However, what is occurring over time under market conditions is a distinction in the types of expected and productive uses in these two valuable technologies.

EDI is designed to facilitate and manage communication between machines throughout the supply chain, whereas ebXML is designed to be used in a browser-based interfaced by human personnel who will use the information as data between departments, making sales, generating a business decision and more. ebXML then should be better thought of as a modality for formatting and presenting the data from EDI. Each, when used intelligently towards greater efficiency can add value to each other, as they compensate for each other’s weaknesses on the back end.

Charlie Alsmiller

Throughout his career, Charlie Alsmiller has focused on customer problems in difficult industries such as Energy and Telecommunications. Prior to starting Appterra in 2005, Alsmiller was VP of Global Operations for Allegro Development, a leading provider of software for the energy sector. He has also served as president of OmniSpace Technologies, a leading SaaS provider that he founded in 1999. He spent over 10 years in the consulting world with Price Waterhouse and Deloitte Consulting, where he participated in a wide variety of projects for very high profile clients. Mr. Alsmiller holds a BBA from Baylor University in Management and Information Systems and a MBA from the University of Dallas in International Business. Specialties: Technology ventures, Enterprise Software, Contract Negotiation, International Operations, Private Equity, Product Management, Strategic Alliances, Software Implementation, Software Development

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