Keith Richards isn’t dead, and neither is EDI

"If they see opportunities for improvement, Octolan’s always quick to help us work through them.​"

EDI and Data Automation Within the Supply Chain Continues to Grow

Even when considering X12 and EDIFACT data structures and offshoots of these standards, the use of EDI continues to grow. 

Add to this momentum the volume of data exchanged via CSVs, structured fixed length files, XML and JSON, and the truth that real growth exists within this field comes to light. An increasing percentage of business documents are exchanged via automated means. 

Historically, EDI did require the implementation of a translation tool on a desktop or server within a company’s firewall.  Specialized modems and software helped with communication between a company and a Value Added Network (VAN).  While some companies continue supporting these systems, varying levels of digital transformation have pulled this responsibility into the cloud, where SaaS providers replace the functionality of the traditional translator. 

Why use EDI?  Several reasons exist to support the use of EDI. The use of EDI is often mandated within a field.  HIPAA within healthcare, automotive supply chain schedules and releases, retail supply chain and transportation all operate largely on EDI.  Why does EDI still exist?  In short, interoperability.  The standardized format and syntax allow for interpretation and loosely-coupled connections between systems.  This value becomes more apparent when a component in this thread changes.  For instance, when a company changes their WMS provider in their warehouse, the warehouse transactions between the shipping organization and receiving party do not change.  Automation tools allow for the efficient migration from one tool to another.  


How Does Octolan Differ​

Octolan takes a holistic approach to EDI, where we consider the entire end to end context of a document lifecycle when appropriate to ensure complete visibility and transparency. 

Our innovative platform allows for global scalability while providing granular access and visibility.  Octolan customers own their data. Octolan simply services their transformation, visibility and integration needs. We refuse to put up barriers to access to your own data. 

Unlike other providers, Octolan leads with an integrated solution but allow for manual processing as required by our customers.  Integration and efficiency cannot exist by exception only.  Small companies need efficiencies just as much if not more than larger organizations.

Most importantly, Octolan views this relationship as a collaborative one.  The level of support and autonomy exist on a sliding scale, allowing one company to maximize their control of data transformation, while another wants a lights-out solution where they might interrogate the data within the Octolan platform, but not necessarily influence the behavior of the system.

What does Octolan do?

EDI Mythology

A company must either outsource all aspects of EDI and automation or maintain EDI expertise in house

  • Although it’s not yet common, hosted solutions that balance control with EDI management services are beginning to make their way into the market.  Supply chain has grown tired of expensive EDI SaaS providers and lack of responsiveness and ability to control their own fate. 

EDI is too expensive

  • The right EDI provider must balance value with service level and cost.  For smaller operations with only a handful of documents per month, EDI can still provide value over manual processes. 
  • With modern SaaS applications, keeping an order to cash flow simple allows your organization to use out of the box automation tools with little to no customization 

EDI is outdated

  • It’s true, if looking at X12 data, the format and syntax dates back a few decades.  That said, the concept of Electronic Data Interchange does not necessarily mean X12 data.  More and more companies have opted for structured flat files, XML and JSON payloads.  These more modern formats do not require the specialized knowledge of X12. 

EDI implementations take months, even years

  • Some implementations of over 500 trading partners may take 8-12 months with extensive user testing with the implementation of a new ERP.  That said, tooling exists to help with data validation and modeling that allow for excellent efficiency in implementations. 

I can't change EDI providers because they own my data

  • This myth has particularly sticky legal implications.  Just because an EDI provider processes data on your behalf, the supplier has clear intention and ownership.  An EDI provider CANNOT restrict access to the legal copy of the data sent and received with your partner community. 
Question circle

What is EDI?

We consider EDI to include any structured exchange of data between business entities. This not only includes ANSI X12, EDIFACT and subsidiaries, but also JSON, XML, API data.

Purposeful Structure

The lines between the classification of integration data and EDI align with the intent of the data. 

An industry may have a specific standardized format such as a CLM record for rail status or the OPICAL format for the optical industry.  These originated as an integration but became the defacto standard for a subset of companies within these industries 

While a provider-specific format might exist as a proprietary XML-based interpretation of X12 data, other providers can work with the format as well. 

Scalability & Efficiency

The traditional flow of an on-prem translator connecting your ERP to a network of buyers through a VAN has yielded to a model of SaaS vendors that remove visibility and control while sustaining higher costs. 

SaaS EDI platforms often take advantage of the need small suppliers have to connect with their buying community.  The larger the company the less they pay per transaction. 

Modern providers start to change the traditional methods of implementing and supporting EDI transaction automation, giving control back to the operations and giving visibility throughout the exchange of data between partners. 

Some of these disruptors have managed to eliminate barriers to entry, providing a lower cost solution while maintaining.

EDI Visibility & Extensibility Tool

Not all companies are ready to re-implement EDI, but need to provide the business with better visibility to transactions.  With our EDI Visibility component, we can display ASC X12 and EDIFACT data in a business-centric way.  With the ability to search for key document values such as purchase order and invoice number and the ability to show related documents, the business will have access and visibility to the transactions they need to see. 

Reduce the need for users to interrogate the raw EDI data to find transactions the organization needs to keep the business going.  We collect the raw data files sent and received with your partner community and within minutes, provide your users visibility, searchable by key business data components.


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