The Evolution of EDI and Multi-Enterprise Collaboration: Webinar Recap

Published on 14 April 2023

edi & multi-enterprise collaboration
Generix Team
Generix Team
Supply Chain

In the face of supply chain disruptions and increased complexity, pressure to efficiently manage the supply chain has never been greater—geopolitical forces, carrier constraints, and labor shortages are just a few challenges. Digitization moves are helping but are companies ready for tomorrow’s challenges?

The Evolution of EDI and Multi-Enterprise Collaboration: Webinar Recap

Two Generix Group executives recently tackled this question in the context of the multi-enterprise collaboration that is required today to keep pace with business requirements, with EDI as a critical underlying technology.

Generix’s Mark Sutter, sales account executive[MJ1] , and Ted Hagan, pre-sales solution engineer, joined moderator David Maloney, group editorial director for DC Velocity and Supply Chain Quarterly magazines, in the webinar entitled “EDI’s Evolution & Tomorrow’s Challenges: Are You Ready?”

Sutter began by outlining the history of EDI from its roots in 1948 to exchange shipping information on relief supplies for the Berlin Air Drop on through its more modern applications with computerization in the 1960s. By the 1990s, basic EDI was advanced by the internet and data communications which led way to XML in the 2000s, and since then, SaaS models have taken hold. Now in the 2020s, EDI and its related technologies are evolving rapidly, Sutter noted.

Especially since the pandemic, enterprises are pushing toward automation, greatly driven by continued labor shortages. “Employees are asking higher demands from their employers. In fact, the labor shortage is causing executives to say that 66 percent of their primary motivation for investing in automation technology is the labor shortage, according to Gartner,” Sutter said.

“Disruption is the new normal. For many organizations, the current supply chain challenges have highlighted the pieces of the puzzle that are missing from their supply chain,” Sutter said.


Tracking the evolution of EDI with business needs

Today’s business and technical requirements require enterprise systems to do more. Generix’s Hagan noted the past 12 to 15 years has seen an accelerated pace of change involving business systems and EDI. “Organizations are struggling to reduce their number of software partners and to meet the diverse needs of their trading partners. They need a simpler integration approach,” he said.

“EDI is no longer just a file transfer from one backend system as the sending company to another backend system at another company, such as from ERP to ERP. Suddenly these EDI translators we’ve got need to do a lot more,” Hagan said. “Organizations are really struggling to figure out how do I do all this given the tools that I have?”

Hagan said: “The data can be in someone else’s system, not just your ERP system. You need to pick that data up and get it to your EDI translator.  We’re going to marketplaces, web solutions, and devices. It’s not just a flat file, it’s XML and all its versions, and a number of different file formats have all entered into the mix.”

Hagan outlined the many changes in EDI communication methods. “We’re not just going straight across from point A to point B by a VAN (value-added network) or direct connection. We’ve got APIs involved, email attachments, SWIFT financial information, etc.,” he said.

By necessity, enterprises are patching together a variety of solutions in their EDI infrastructure such as EDI translator software, middleware, communication gateways, API integration solutions and BI tools, among others, in a “system of systems” approach.


The missing piece: B2B EDI integration platforms

“We need a tool that can do things all in one place,” Hagan said. This means a tool that brings together B2B integration, including EDI, XML and other communication forms, and integrations with adaptable connections, while incorporating other technologies such as APIs and IoT.  

The call for all all-in-one-place solution that enables collaboration with trading partners  means that business and technical users can access information and communicate with their internal and external partners to a greater extent, with greater speed and accuracy, resulting in improved inventory visibility and control of their supply chains.

These B2B EDI integration platforms are replacing EDI translator software and other methods which require technical specialists for running the day-to-day EDI operation and troubleshooting.

Sutter added that rather than burdening business users with manual processes such like  data entry, business users are freed to manage the supply chain by exception, while working toward greater collaboration with trading partners, bringing supplier diversification and better engaged employees.  

He outlined the Generix Group multi-enterprise collaboration solution. Whether on-premise EDI or delivered in cloud-based EDI SaaS mode, Generix EDI, powered by the Generix B2B TradeXpress Infinity integration platform, enables multi-enterprise integration and collaboration across the supply chain.

The Generix Group multi-enterprise collaboration B2B solutions also include supplier and customer portals, E-Invoicing and AP Automation, and VMI (vendor managed inventory).

Sutter said: “There are so many different areas you may need to integrate with and we do that. Our solutions give you end-to-end visibility, alerts, alarms, reporting, audit trail, analytics, KPI tracking, and business rules management and enforcement, based on rules with specific access and permissions.”

Non-technically capable trading partners, those companies without the EDI infrastructure, can still do business with your organization via the Generix customer portal (order-to-cash) and supplier portal (procure-to-pay), with full functionality to help them do business.


About Generix Group

Our B2B EDI integration platform and EDI Services are used in more than 40 countries worldwide by many leading companies. For more on recent EDI developments and Generix EDI Services, download our product sheet.

We invite you to contact us to learn more.  For an at-a-glance look at the benefits of EDI, download our infographic here.


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