APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, have become an integral part of our day-to-day interactions with the software we use at work as well as when we browse the internet. APIs are the little-known yet ubiquitous driving force that makes the interactivity of modern business-to-business (B2B) software applications possible. While many in the software space are familiar with the existence of APIs, most do not realize APIs' ability to complement B2B EDI platforms and further automate and optimize their company’s digital data exchange ecosystem.
The Gartner® research report, Use APIs to Modernize EDI for B2B Ecosystem Integration, provides an insightful overview of the benefits of APIs on a modern EDI platform including their impact on data exchange. The report also offers unbiased recommendations from Gartner analysts on how to best implement APIs into your existing EDI infrastructure.
What is EDI?
Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is a concept that has been common among large companies since at least the early 1970s and is used as a standardized way to electronically transmit information that has historically been communicated through paper. Large companies that are faced with the complex task of keeping track of and transmitting substantial volumes of data have looked to EDI as the answer to their logistical problems.
From purchase orders to invoices to freight information, all the data essential to running a business is transmitted through standardized EDI messages. Although EDI for B2B has been around for close to 50 years, keeping it from obsolescence is the introduction of new technology such as API which enables entirely new ways of realizing efficiencies from EDI systems.
What is an API?
Through the use of APIs, a company is able to enhance its B2B EDI platform to support real-time patterns, mobile applications, and the internet of things (IoT). With the right APIs in place, EDI users can have the ability, for example, to receive real-time status updates on orders. APIs can also expand the use of EDI to companies that have not previously had the ability due to the high cost and complexity of implementation. APIs help integrate products and services with other products without requiring any knowledge of its implementation. They simplify development and save time.
APIs for Onboarding
According to Gartner research, "one of the most common complaints against B2B software concerns the difficulty of onboarding partners". Oftentimes partners are unresponsive or require assistance when it comes to configuring the software and performing data mapping.
The more business partners a company is onboarding to its EDI system, the longer and more difficult the onboarding process is going to be. This is where APIs come in.
Business partners being onboarded can develop their own APIs to customize the integration to their unique internal systems or third-party EDI portal. No longer will partners being onboarded need to wait for a custom connector to be created for them, now they can create an API to integrate with the EDI platform.
B2B Innovation with APIs
One challenge APIs face is a lack of universal standardization. While EDI has standards such as X12 in the United States and EDICOM in Europe, no such industry-wide standards exist for APIs. Instead, companies that use B2B APIs create their own definitions based on their unique requirements. This leads to a situation where APIs differ from project to project.
Comarch’s global team of computer engineers and technical experts means our EDI platform can be holistically implemented into any company’s existing processes with as much (or as little) technical input from the company upgrading its EDI platform. Our broad experience with different business solutions, from CRM systems to ERP software, means Comarch experts can develop the necessary APIs to seamlessly integrate a company’s data exchange suite.
If the company prefers to create the needed APIs in-house, Comarch can provide the resources needed to easily connect to the Comarch EDI portal. Comarch experts also stand ready with the experience needed to fully onboard all of a company’s business users onto their new EDI system. Of course, Comarch also provides an intuitive self-onboarding portal to allow a business to perform the onboarding itself.
With over 28 years of experience, Comarch has the global proficiency necessary to implement EDI projects for companies no matter their size or technical maturity. Over 100,000 users from 40 different countries actively utilize Comarch’s modern EDI platform to transmit more than 80 different message types.
To learn more about how you can leverage APIs to modernize your B2B EDI platform and establish better business processes, check out the Gartner® research report. Visit our website to learn more about Comarch EDI solutions or email us directly with any EDI related questions.