With classic EDI, the data are processed in a fully automated fashion requiring the automatic capture of data from the ERP system. Business partners, i.e. customers, suppliers, shipping companies, etc. are directly linked electronically by all of the prevalent communication protocols (AS2, HTTPS, X.400, OFTP, etc.) and message standards (EDIFACT, VDA, ODETTE, XML, etc.). This is the standard, “classic” EDI procedure. Although initial costs for setting up the EDI communication and interfaces at the outset is somewhat higher than for other procedures (WebEDI for instance), the return-on-investment is very high with a correspondingly high message volume.
For many smaller companies, WebEDI is a fast, simple means of exchanging business data electronically via EDI. Access is provided through the WebEDI portal web interface via URL and log-in. This makes it easy for the user to take orders or generate delivery notes and invoices and send them back to the customers. WebEDI as “Software as a Service” (SaaS) can be used regardless of the location and does not require any of the partners (customers or suppliers) to make additional investments in hardware or software. Particularly for companies like trade sector chain suppliers only supplying a few large companies, using an existing WebEDI solution represents an affordable alternative to the high cost associated with EDI integration into the company’s own business processes as is the case with classic EDI. Even companies without their own enterprise resource planning can exchange electronic documents competitively.
EDI outsourcing consists of having your EDI operation executed by a professional external EDI service provider. Each business partner is connected to the EDI systems of the EDI outsourcing partner. In this kind of setup, communication with the respective EDI addressees is not conducted directly, but is instead routed through the EDI service provider’s EDI systems and communications channels. Such providers often have several thousand communications connections to linked companies and are capable of implementing all of the desired message formats and protocols.
Mobile EDI applications have increased in recent years. The introduction of the iPad and other tablet computers has enabled companies to exchange data and information via mobile computers and new communication channels. New EDI standards such as Direct Exchange (DEX) are already regularly used in the trade sector to depict simple business processes. For example, DEX can help suppliers scan an article’s barcode using a mobile device to generate an electronic invoice. This data is then sent to the recipient, who opens the invoice and scans the delivered goods in order to check the quantity. Once the data have been reconciled with one another, the invoice is closed and a copy is sent back to the supplier’s mobile device.