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What is EDI?

EDI is Electronic Data Interchange. It’s a dated, pre-internet method of exchanging transaction information between companies directly between their systems, rather than manually. EDI provides a standard format for documents such that the information can be exchanged between computers. It is typically used for the communication of transactional data for high-volume, high-frequency industries like supply chain, banking and finance, etc.

EDI provides a structure to standardise the various documents that a supply chain requires - a purchase order, advance shipping notice, etc. EDI exists in a number of different “standards” (and versions within each standard) that catalogue all the possible documents and prescribe the set of possible fields for each document. To exchange documents, the businesses must agree on the standard and version they will both use.

So, what’s wrong with it?

Many things. The age, complexity, and large combination of different variations means it can be difficult and expensive to manage. It is not as simple as working with a modern API and requires specialised technology and experienced developers.

The cost and complexity of implementing an EDI connection often means that many businesses either have to bridge with a manual process, driving up cost and errors, or pay a third party IT consultant to build them an expensive integration.

For many businesses, given the number of orders and documents they send or receive, and the criticality of being able to quickly and accurately ingest and act on the information in these documents, this can become expensive (and a major bottleneck) quickly.

Switchboard provides a simpler way for companies to manage their integrations. We connect with all systems and manage all your EDI (and API, and any other) transactions for you, through our supply chain integration platform. A partnership with us is all you need to access your whole supply chain.

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