Can EDI be replaced by APIs?
In Gartner’s recent report – “Use APIs to Modernize EDI for B2B Ecosystem Integration (June 2019)”– the strategic assumption for B2B integration planning purposes was stated as:
“By 2023, over 50% of B2B transactions will be performed through real-time APIs versus traditional approaches.”
APIs, therefore, are seen as the growth-enabler for closer integration with trading partners and a mechanism by which information can be shared in real-time, opening up additional integration scenarios. Forward-thinking manufacturers continue to invest in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies and continue to explore the use of APIs to extend data sharing, both internally and externally.
APIs are often considered to be more applicable in application-to-application oriented integration scenarios and have some initial benefits over the use of EDI, including:
- APIs are considered a more modern integration method than EDI, despite EDI having a proven track record in enabling B2B supply chain integration
- As almost a complete opposite to EDI, API skills are readily accessible within IT circles with almost all IT graduates having the skills to understand and exploit available APIs
- APIs are typically easy to understand leading to a much faster time to implement and gain value
- Real-time integration using APIs ensures that systems can be updated immediately, whereas individual EDI transactions are often scheduled for specific times or batched up together
- APIs can be scaled to millions of transactions with little increase in complexity
But it’s not all plain sailing, however. Like many technology solutions, APIs also have some drawbacks in comparison to EDI:
- With little in the way of standards, APIs vary in structure so it can be difficult to manage the variability of structures and capabilities for different APIs
- Older, legacy applications are rarely compatible with newer API technologies meaning it can be difficult or impossible to use APIs
- APIs can require more maintenance in the long term in order to deal with new versions and data structures
- As a more modern integration technique, APIs are not in widespread use for B2B integration in comparison to EDI
- Security concerns are paramount for the use of APIs, with vulnerabilities being able to be exploited without additional technology to protect the application
With no clear winner, either way, a hybrid EDI/API solution would appear to be the favoured way in which to harness the proven capabilities of EDI while enjoying the accessibility of API technologies. A solution in which some of the complexities of EDI could be simplified using a more modern approach to integration. A solution where the variations of EDI standards and protocols could be reduced to only a single defined set of APIs that could be used to send and receive files between customers and their trusted suppliers?
Introducing DiNet Partner Edition
DiNet Partner Edition, from Data Interchange, embraces both EDI and APIs within a single EDI-as-a-Service cloud platform, enabling greater flexibility in B2B integration scenarios, for technology service providers, managed service organisations, direct manufacturers, and their extended supply chains.
DiNet Partner Edition is a scalable, self-service cloud-based EDI platform, built to support partner integration initiatives. It is a comprehensive EDI integration platform delivering complex connectivity, translation, and data conversion with the simplicity of an API, allowing direct EDI connections but leveraging Data Interchange’s connected trading partners, VAN inter-connects, and other monitored connections.
As part of Data Interchange’s scalable DiNet platform, DiNet Partner Edition features native support for direct connections using common EDI protocols such as FTP, SFTP, OFTP/2, AS2, or sending via DiNet’s extended trading network of shared connections to the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers. DiNet Partner Edition provides additional connectivity options to common EDI functions via a modern, easy-to-learn API, including allowing partners to submit files for processing, as well as get updates on file transmission details.
With its sophisticated support for standard and custom file formats, customisable workflows, and flexible file routing, DiNet Partner Edition is capable of processing millions of variations of files, transforming them from one format to another, and doing so in an efficient, secure, and scalable manner. With its flexible error handling and alerting you’ll always be one step ahead of any file processing issues or failed connections.
DiNet Partner Edition also comes with comprehensive visibility over each and every file interaction with a full audit trail maintained for each, including low-level details of session information relating to the receipt and transmission of each file. With all configuration changes fully audited and restricted via detailed security controls, DiNet Partner Edition is a secure platform for delivering modern EDI services to your customers.
What’s more, customers themselves are able to monitor the progress of their files using an easy-to-use web portal, providing 24*7 access from a range of devices and from any location.