New Commerce – Old Commerce – Modern EDI

This post is going to cover two classic EDI issues that have no current resolution nor conclusive remedies: (see supplemental materials here)

1) EDI communications. The transmission of commerce documents via private networks, walled-off QIDs, a lack of global directories, and an interoperability track record that would have killed off the emergence of the Internet, if EDI veterans had their way at ARPA in the 1960’s. That’s one issue. and 2) EDI fixed format data, where, for the sake of preserving a reseller industry and an aging tools market, the entire “brain trust” of EDI data interchange standards has sat on its collective hands – so much so, that entirely new young businesses, within a few years, have cooperatively brought to market flexible data and communications alternatives that will take away 50% or more of the SME and classic EDI sectors, probably within a year or two.

Is it my job to take the EDI industry by the hand, and with an analyst’s perspective, conduct a tour of every technology the Enterprise 2.0 crowd is blending? There are alternatives brewing to EDI, both in the data interchange side of the industry, and in regards to alternative ways for commerce partners to communicate.

The EDI industry has stagnated. Web 2.0 start-ups with some seriously superior tech and solution’s are gaining increasing market share.Recall me fondly when the first major deals are yanked out from under the EDI industry’s most august corporate bottoms. Right now, the Enterprise 2.0 movement is almost at the “No EDI” inflection point- this has not quite solidified, yet,  and many new, venture backed commerce businesses (on-line accounting and mid range purchasing management) are often required to make nice with VANs, AS2, and the odd X12 segment. There is great value in the VAN and EDI industry, a rich set of solutions and experience, a reliable, spam-free network of managed message pathways, etc. So, why is our industry so intent on messing this up?

There is a steamroller coming down the tracks, and ignoring what is happening would be, as us analysts call it, sector suicide.

My job is to educate EDI systems users, particularly those mid range software vendors for whom embedded EDI is a big win. We want you to build EDI into the fabric of your applications. All of these issues affect us. Here we go:

Issue  Number One) While new industry sectors create open messaging standards and forge ahead with spectacular progress, connecting all types of variegated systems, the EDI business is mired in private and walled off Qualifier ID’s that are parsimoniously brokered amongst a few networks. When will EDI achieve routing ubiquity? Who, exactly is being served by these outmoded policies?


Issue Number Two) Cutting edge research into data transparency science gallops ahead, and is now delivering real tools, while the EDI industry is almost willingly shackled to systems of mapping and manual translation.

Innovative on-line accounting and logistics vendors are creating a world where the source and destination table ordering is hardly an afterthought, where data is reconciled automatically or on-the-fly, the EDI industry is blogged down in tests and tools to manually massage commerce documents.

My L-rd people, have we not supported this system long enough? Proprietary routing and Fixed data formats are so yesterday.

I want you all to think about this, and then I am going to conduct a late winter symposium in the Tampa FL area, with Todd, and Loren Data, where we will cover the latest issues in data and communications transparency. We will also cover strategic issues of what a new, invigorated EDI communications industry, based on open routing, open API’s, and agile services, might look like.

We will talk about a new way to structure partnerships between mid-range solutions providers, where the best of each can be contributed, and cooperatively built upon. A new, vast, Grand Horizon of API’s that would allow new data interchange commerce applications to be built using common tools, remote methods, and with data standards that mostly obviate the need to map and translate (manually).

There will be no big fees, and we will help all get cost effective rates. This will be an un-conference – peers talking to peers, and anyone can speak. I will just create a set of topics that can be rallied on or disposed of at the will of the assembly. I will also invite other thought leaders from the Enterprise 2.0 and data transparency sector, too see if they will show and speak on some issues.

March in Tampa, anyone?

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