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A Short Definition Of EDI - Electronic Data Interchange


The exchange of business documents is among the oldest forms of human communication.  Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the electronic equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. The famed Rosetta Stone, the key to Egyptian hieroglyphics, is written in three separate languages, all detailing the same document--the same information. The author of the tablet translated his document, written in his own language, to a standard language (Greek) to expedite the exchange of information. Although the Rosetta Stone records a document that was completed thousands of years ago, the basic method the author used is still what many businesses use today - EDI.


EDI provides businesses with the ability to exchange business documents easily between trading partners without the laborious, time consuming, and error prone movement and handling of paper. The phrase "untouched by human hands" holds special meaning for modern business. It means that a transaction that took between 5 and 8 days, one way, now takes only minutes, or can be scheduled to suit the needs of the recipient.


Translation of data and business documents is essential to the smooth communication of information between businesses. Today's documents can be stored electronically, translated to standard data formats, transmitted (via Internet, value added network or point to point)  in seconds, and processed by the trading partner's computer applications.


EDI has revolutionized business communications around the globe. In our changing business environment, the only way to accurately and quickly transfer information is from computer to computer. This method lets us send data around the world as easily as we send it down the hall.


EDI makes processes like Just-In-Time (JIT)  delivery and Flow Management electronic transactions possible. It ensures business goals such as quick response times and reduced errors. EDI has become a fundamental part of information management in many organizations. But, EDI is more than just a new technology, something you "plug-in" and watch work. EDI is a new way of thinking about an old business function.  It's a belief in the ability to modernize and streamline business practices.


EDI by itself is nothing more than a simple exchange of electronic information.   Intended to replace paper and improve accuracy and timeliness of business document flow and has become the basis for all electronic commerce.


The complexities of EDI are centered on the definition of the trading partner relationships and the data integration with supporting business application systems.   This is the point where most EDI initiatives fail!  The control and management of both the inbound and outbound information flow through an EDI mechanism is crucial to the business enterprise embracing the concept of EDI.


The current business climate is giving rise to cheaper and more efficient EDI methodologies.  Some of these embrace traditional use of Value Added Networks (VAN) while others are embarking on IP Internet communications as a means to support the transaction communication interface.


The following pages are intended to cover a plethora of topics relating to the discussion of EDI.  Please browse and follow the links below to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of EDI as it exists today and flows into the next Millennium.


Enjoy the challenge and opportunity that EDI offers!