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EDI alternatives bring business productivity, revenue boost

Posted: 02 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EDI? API? electronic data interchange? supply chain? productivity?

The present state of operations involving the supply chain is becoming more and more complex. This is the reason why supply chain professionals are on the lookout for a technology revolution that can replace EDI systems with modern web services to standardise intricate data and facilitate real-time communications.

For years, web service application programming interfaces (APIs) have transformed other industries. From the ability to shop online to mobile banking, APIs are the connections that make it possible for data to be transmitted from one system to another, increasing productivity and revenue for businesses. Yet, most freight and transportation systems have yet to ride this wave.

Why replace an incumbent, entrenched product like EDI?

In the 1970s, businesses started using electronic data interchange (EDI) to replace postal mail and fax communication. It allowed for information to be processed and read more easily by multiple systems. Moving to electronic document sharing from paper-based communication helped reduce cost, limit human errors and improve relationships between partners and customers.

Over the past 45 years, technology has gotten significantly more sophisticated. Unfortunately, EDI has not been refined or modernised as the Internet's capabilities have grown. On the flip side, web service APIs are the building blocks for the most dynamic and innovative software and web applications of today: Google Maps, YouTube, Kayak, etc.

If your supply chain is using a communication tool based off of the Internet from 1970 rather than modern APIs, it's going to be at a significant disadvantage. Here are a few reasons why.

1. EDI 204's slow speed leads to more missed pickups

EDI may be the current industry default, but it's old technology that runs data transmission over timers. Latency of EDI 204 (used when tendering a load) often leads to shipments taking between 30 and 120 minutes to be received by a carrier. That means information is not being transmitted in real-time, increasing the likelihood of missed pickups and triggering more phone calls and emails to manage dispatching processes that should be automated.

APIs transmit your supply chain information to capacity in nanoseconds, resulting in real-time freight transportation management. They allow you to automatically add your pickup requests into a carrier's system to maximise on-time performance while eliminating time spent manually communicating requests.

2. EDI 214 creates a reactive supply chain

Limited EDI connections require manual processes to retrieve pro numbers and tracking details. Furthermore, large gaps in information resulting from EDI 214 constrain your ability to generate standard, 360-degree reports. That means your team is not only wasting productivity on administrative tasks, but also acting on stale information with no way of identifying potential red flags or bypassing an issue before it leads to unnecessary costs and increased customer frustration.

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