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EDI Vs API: Supercharging Their Performance with Self-Service

EDI Vs API: Supercharging Their Performance with Self-Service

For quite long, EDI solutions have been leveraged by a wide variety of industries, including retail, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and more to streamline business transactions and provide strategic value in terms of revenue and brand image. 

Initially employed in the early 1970s, EDI served as the de facto standard for electronic data exchange across supply chains. Instead of having each business invent its own data layout for business documents such as invoices and purchase orders (POs), EDI offered a format that accommodated most business relationships. 

However, with data becoming more complex and advances in technology, the EDI standards increased. Business users have to handle multiple versions of the standards and not everyone could alter their EDI maps, which inhibited processing to a great extent. More so, the growth of optional fields and structures in an EDI document – loaded with all the fields, repeating loop structures, hierarchical levels, and so forth to support just about every possible business relationship on a purchase order document, complicate the process further, sabotaging customer experiences (CXs) and turning organizations easier to do business with. 


Business users relying on EDI have to map received documents into some other format and map existing data from their applications and databases into an EDI format for driving value. Honestly, it’s a difficult format to drive exchange processes as it exists as an intermediary format between businesses. 

Additionally, as a business grows, they can have more than hundreds of such internal applications that exchange data with each other. In such cases, it’s challenging for organizations to keep tabs on the EDI documents used, compromising integration processes.

In short,

  • EDI have too many standards.
  • Various standards bodies have developed ‘standard document formats’ for EDI which can cause problems with cross-compatibility.
  • These standards bodies also push standards revisions annually which could cause problems if you have a more recent version of a document than a trading partner.
  • EDI systems are costly, making it difficult for small businesses to implement.

Witnessing the roadblocks, many have organizations constructed API to enable users support complex and customized information delivery value-chains that don’t fit into defined and standard EDI documents. However, even with API, there come many challenges. The biggest challenge is, it involves a lot of technical debt, especially during API versioning, which is much more than that in EDI. Plus, it fails to provide adequate visibility into data exchange and customer data exchange processes that can trigger agility and collaboration issues. 

In short,

  • It involves a lot of technical debt, especially during API versioning, impacting companies’ ease of doing business. 
  • It offers low-visibility into the exchange processes that can cause compound data quality and collaboration issues, thereby weakening CXs and ROI generation.
  • It poses a lot of burden on IT/ developers to execute complex API coding, upgrade API transaction, and execute complex data handling, thereby impacting productivity.

So, neither EDI nor API enables a business user harness the true data potential by building customer data integrations at the speed of business. Self-service integration solutions, on the other hand, can help users do that by empowering them with automated functionalities such as AI mapping, pre-built applications connectors, shared templates, interactive dashboards, and, more. Business users can rely on these next-gen solutions to leverage customer data, extract insights faster, and use the information to deliver delightful CXs. And during all this, IT can take the governance role and focus on other high-value tasks.