Monday, February 23, 2009

EDI Standards Persist in the Face of XML and Web Services

I was asked this question today:

Why is EDI still the standard way companies transact between each other even as the internet has been adopted by most people? Technologies like the internet, XML and WWW have now been around for a while, and yet companies still are transacting via EDI. EDI is not cheap, and smaller companies are reluctant to participate. Does that mean the internet has not really penetrated the corporate world in terms of its back office functions? Is it because of cost of changing technologies? A worry about security? What is holding the embrace of technology in this area?

My Answer:

EDI is not just a technology and format. EDI is the accumulated intellectual assets of 30 years worth of thinking through very difficult business issues. I remember sitting in an EDI standards committee meeting as they debated how to identify the different kinds of sun roofs on a rental car for EDI purposes. Each segment, element and code in the EDI standards represents years of thinking and debating by business experts around the world. EDI is a library of the world's best business data semantics and syntax thinking. Technologies and formats will change every few years, but this intellectual asset will be worth more each year.

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