According to McKinsey Quarterly, “…companies with fewer than 500 employees account for almost two-thirds of net new jobs and generate 13 times more new patents per employee than large ones do.” Given the incredible importance of small businesses to the overall American economy, the supply chain will continue to require the exchange of orders, shipments and payments with those small businesses. EDI does that very well.
For those small business owners who might be counting EDI out because of its age and waiting for it to “go away,” there are several important factors to consider.
When speaking of business-to-business-centric solutions, maturity is a very important consideration. Platforms that haven’t matured can have significant problems in terms of reliability and their ability to provide consistent results across myriad different platforms. EDI is mature. It’s a known quantity that offers reliability and proven performance for small businesses and their customers in virtually every niche and industry.
Support for Multiple Industries
When it comes to data fields and process models, industry-specificity is important within companies. However, business-to-business EDI is not specific to any industry. While some might view that as a liability, it’s actually a tremendous advantage. The very lack of industry specificity has been an important factor for the widespread use of EDI since many companies have trading partners that cross industry lines.
Simply put, EDI is everywhere, and can be utilized by any business, regardless of size, scope, industry, or niche. Because EDI can be used across all industries without the need for drastic changes, it ensures cross-platform compatibility between companies and their many different and varied internal systems.
Small businesses don’t have massive bankrolls and the deep pockets found with Fortune 500 companies. They often operate on a limited budget with little excess. Because EDI can be very affordable with the right EDI provider, it makes a prime choice for any business owner or manager who needs to maximize their limited funds without sacrificing capabilities. In addition, a full-service outsourced EDI solution does not require costly customization to fit the different requirements of each customer.
Compatibility with Multiple Network Technologies
Network technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. However, not all companies have migrated to new platforms and protocols. Moreover, some small businesses simply cannot take advantage of specific networking options and do not have the desire to become network technology gurus. EDI solutions are available that work across all network protocols, from Value Added Networks (VANs), AS/2 (Applicability Statement 2) to File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
It’s Already in Place
One of the prime reasons that EDI continues to matter to small businesses, and will matter for a long time to come, is that it’s already in place with hundreds of thousands of companies. It’s there and in use daily and other technology is not. Most of the companies view EDI from the perspective of “if it is not broken, why try to replace it?”
EDI has been the industry standard for business-to-business document exchange for more than two decades. What that means is that small companies choosing to utilize a robust EDI solution will find that their customers with whom they do business will be able to send and receive their documents without a hitch.
EDI does matter and will continue to matter to small businesses for decades to come.Why EDI Will Continue to Matter to Small Businesses by Steve Brewer