Loren Data Corp has always paid keen attention to platform providers. Emerging PAAS and SAAS providers who singularly target the Small and Medium business are in the sweet spot for the ECGridOS API. Lightweight inventory and logistics are examples of key market segments for EDI, and new markets are opening all the time. Platform providers can now build-in EDI, lower costs, and offer global EDI transit as a core platform service. With the entry hurdles being lowered for the SME in all things EDI, (from the creation of simpler canonical business documents, to new web services for the automatic reconciliation of trading partner data formats), businesses that were considered outliers for EDI solutions are now prime candidates for hosted solutions.
One problem faced by PAAS and SAAS providers is providing clients with connections to the greater world of EDI (X12 consumers). So, you have a few ways to approach EDI communications services:
- Offer EDI communications that are per client, per connection options – “bolted” on, if you will. This is an incongruous compromise for advanced platforms that otherwise offer transparent data access, translation, BPM, work flow, etc. Fees on top of setup calls’ which trading partners are on which VAN? Was that upload successful? This option is like treating each SAAS tenant like a self-managed client in all matters relating to EDI communications. We have gone from a slick integrated hosted solution back to the days of bi-sync. ‘You EDI connection is set, good luck!’. This is progress?
- The hosted platform provider can outsource EDI integration and communications. There will be enormous commitments in terms of per client integration services in order to make the external commerce system mesh. This option offers additional functionality for the applications – such as bar code and RFID floor inventory support, price synchronization, etc. In short, everything not connected to EDI global transit, where one may still struggle to integrate end-to-end EDI parcel status, trading partner add /drop, reports and statistics.
- Embedded EDI as a built-in function of the PAAS / SAAS platform. Using an API to fully integrate EDI communications across all tenants means that populating trading partners is a snap. Sending EDI parcels is woven in as a single-click service, or an automated function. Reporting and responding to undeliverable messages is now part of the platform services, not an external add-on. The implications for records keeping and reliability is day and night.
For the platform operator, the implications of building in EDI services are many; for potential clients for whom EDI is a critical function, a must have, the conversation changes from: “we can get that set up for you with the following fees and setup requirements”, to a more compelling, “we offer global, all routes EDI transit to any trading partner as an included platform service”.
Powerful, eh? ECGridOS API for Platform providers is a match made in heaven.