DI, or Electronic Data Interchange to give it its full title, has been around as a “standard” since the 1970s, facilitating data transfer between businesses ever since. The idea of providing a strict data structure which would facilitate data transfer between computer systems without involving human intervention, thus reducing the space for human error, was immediately attractive.
Skip forward 30 years and the attraction of automation and reduced intervention remains very attractive. In fact, so attractive that there are currently more than 50 different EDI standards in active use across the European Union.
The advent of the flexible data interchange markup language XML in the 1990s, immediately allowed business sectors who believed that their market vertical was significantly different to others to create their own EDI standards. The ease of use meant that just about anyone could define and implement their own standard to meet their needs, whether or not something suitable already existed.
Even the European Union got in on the act, creating an EDI standard specifically for short distance sea trips, such as ferry crossings between England and France, as a distinctly separate standard to that in place for long haul shipping.
This proliferation of standards is not such a problem for businesses operating solely within a particular sector, but any who supply to multiple industries or sectors will need to implement several different systems to cope with the EDI demands of each customer. Not only is such a system hugely complex to implement and manage, it is seldom cost effective either.
Clearly, pulling out of the market altogether is not an option, but a system which interacts transparently with all required formats without intervention is preferable. A system which requires no on-going maintenance and is hosted externally is even more desirable because of the potential cost savings available.
The UN and EU have both tasked committees with finding a way to condense their own plethora of competing standards; despite their best efforts they were only able to rationalise 12 different e-invoicing standards into two. Neither committee was able to find a way of bending the standards to meet every need.
The solution clearly lies in finding a system which allows industries, sectors and sub-sectors to continue with their current EDI formats, but which translates electronic invoicing and payment data automatically and transparently into the correct format for both supplier and purchaser. Such a system immediately reduces the burden on businesses looking to trade across industries, reducing their own EDI implementations to just one, externally hosted solution.
To find out how Celtrino’s Smart Admin platform could help reduce your EDI implementation complexities, please contact us at +353 1 873 99 02.