The Concept of Bailment and Trading Partner Rights

The taking of Bailment of an EDI Message is the mark of a Network’s consideration for trading partner rights. If there is no consideration of a client’s standing, i.e., no bailment, then there is no need to bother with equitable interconnection policies, industry leadership, or the market’s long-term health and viability.

What does this mean for end users of B2B communications?

A network operator expresses care for its clients, paired transactors in EDI trading communities, by its willingness to honor bailment of messages submitted for transmission and routing. Honoring a commitment of delivery means honoring an established culture of collegial interconnection. Taking this understanding to heart, the market should expect more of VANs and advanced communications networks, holding these providers to higher standards of service and stewardship of the indsutry.

Even the most conservative institutional accounts shall slowly become cognizant of the concept of bailment, and shall realize that they are being subtly disparaged if their EDI communications provider does not respect this high moral concept. Sophisticated EDI Veterans in the corporate B2B mills intuitively know this.  There is discontent in the EDI industry; this is plain truth. There is a need to engender higher expectations from our colleagues, communications providers, and the buyers of these services.

Since this philosophy must be evangelized as part of the EDI industry’s continuing reformation, we might as well state it quite plainly, “interconnection denial, arbitraging, and distortion, are more than mere acts of overzealous competitive leverage, they are a slap in the face of the trading partners”.

This discussion of bailment is timely due to the consolidation occurring in the EDI industry. If interconnections between EDI networks become instruments of leverage, then the standing of trading partners is placed in dire jeopardy. Focusing on the rights of trading partners facilitates getting past sticky situations that arise from consolidation. The ecommerce industry that was built on collegial interconnection policies presently seems to be struggling in the midst of disruptive technological innovations, and there are yet more advanced communications modalities poised to enter the market. And, though we all crave these innovations in theory, they need to be built upon a solid foundation of industry policy. The preservation of the interests of all trading partners, no matter what network they reside on, is the first step to laying the groundwork.

Playing cute with interconnections is a dangerous game, compromising the high standards of trust that VANs and Advanced EDI providers purport to offer. Those committed to evolving the state of the art will be distinguished by their respecting the concept of bailment.

If an EDI Communications Provider distorts interconnection policies (in order to disadvantage competitors), then such a VAN compromises a client’s (partner’s) ability to independently choose an EDI network according to their will. Compromising the choice of networks, for whatever reason, abrogates the industry’s unwritten contract of liberal interconnection which built the current market over decades of cooperation.

The converse case is not good at all – networks vying over fractional KC rates, severing interconnections according to an opaque calculus; these behaviors are confounding to end-users wishing to conduct business. If the B2B industry wants to expand the market’s potential in a post cloud era, then these issues must be addressed.

In the next article, I shall discuss the industry’s complete lack of will in addressing transparent routing policies, and Network ID portability. These two most important attributes of agnostic routing and ID portability are the hallmark of a connected market poised for its next chapter of expansion.

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