Today, those who use or provide EDI solutions seem to run from the term. Yet, a huge percent of the world's financial transactions run through these formats. A new generation of approaches that leverage the internet and cloud methods, as well as those that incorporate more types of media, file, documents and messaging formats have arrived. These tightly integrate with bar-coding and RFID standards and systems. Many firms are looking to update what they have; and there is cutthroat competition of user dollars in the market as they seek new and more inclusive approaches.
Here is the range of offerings you can expect to encounter:
EDI Mapping - takes information from a source file (can be the sender or receivers) and converts or translates it to the output file. This is done in accordance with the prescribed format - the map. Each company has its own maps; for example, General Motors, Citibank, Wal-Mart expect a certain format and specific data in a transaction.
EDI Translating - translation software is the converter from one file format to another. This includes a variety of capabilities, such as taking the data/file from a back-end system (purchasing, payment or status output from a software system or spreadsheet) and turning it into an EDI formatted file. This can also convert from one format to another such as EDIFACT to XML.
Managed File Transfer or Secure File Transfer - an exploding market of solutions from freeware for ad hoc transfers to secure scalable multi-protocol offering. MFT is the conduit today to transport the AS2 protocol used by big retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, etc., and is growing in popularity since it leverages the internet and is cheaper to operate vs. using the EDI VAN. MFT is software and/or service supporting multiple message protocols. These solutions have more management and security than FTP and features like encryption, non-repudiation, auditability, global visibility, and provide shared areas or "move" media and transaction across the internet to recipients.
Shareware or Workgroup Sharing - the bane or boon to the IT and security team! What are your employees sharing? Many IT departments do not allow access from the enterprise to these technologies. But their growth is explosive. Fortunately the major MFT players are now offering these, and freeware offers are upgradable to enterprise level management tools. But they have to be acquired and paid for like any modern tech product (on-demand or subscription).
EDI today is a standard - not necessarily just a technology.
Our research for 2013 shows that B2B Integration is the biggest focus area for supply chain. Many of the providers of the above capability wrap themselves in B2B market messages. Continued outsourcing and globalization on the manufacturing side - as well as concentration of consumer dollars in the largest, most powerful retailers who demand compliance - will continue to be a catalyzing factor in EDI market growth.
Keywords: RFID, collaboration & integration, EDIFACT, EDI VAN, EDI Mapping, XML, EDI Translating
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