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Author's profile photo Mike Kersels

PART 3: EDI—The Platypus of B2B?

Although we may not understand the purpose of the platypus, it does its job and does it well.

90% of businesses who run EDI could (and would) likely say the same about their EDI software—it works. That’s all that matters. No, it’s not perfect but the prospect of replacing it with something better is terrifying. How could you tear out and reconfigure the plumbing of a house without disrupting the drywall, framing, and overall structural integrity? Honestly, you couldn’t. But if there was a way to improve EDI, proactively resolving disputes as they arise—if not before—and freeing-up resources to focus on driving revenue, most businesses would jump at the opportunity.

Which brings us back to blockchain. Rather than try to “fix” EDI, blockchain offers a simple, low-investment, non-invasive, way to work with the software that is already in place, by providing a single source of truth for business-to-business transactions when disparate systems are involved. Each-and-every transaction conducted between two businesses can be simultaneously recorded to a decentralized blockchain network. The content and integrity of this data cannot be refuted by either party due to the technical nature of how blockchain works. Once a disagreement arises, such as in the scenario listed in Part 2 of the blog, the blockchain network is the common record to which both parties can go to for resolution.

To take this example even further, what if disputes could be proactively avoided by monitoring this mismatch in blockchain data? EDI has long proven itself as an excellent tool for 2-way and 3-way matching, the first comparing order to invoice and the latter including actual goods received to the initial two. However, it does not necessarily serve as an alert tool where there is a discrepancy. Blockchain, on the other hand, serves as an excellent indicator to quickly expose failures of 2-way and 3-way matching since it holds data from all parties involved in the business transaction.

Blockchain is a way for EDI to finally evolve into factual transparency. It provides the single source of truth for all transactions occurring between two businesses. At the same time this data can serve to proactively inform both sides of the business to business transaction of discrepancies as they occur so they can be proactively resolved together. All data is factual since it is based on underlying EDI data transmission.

In summary, there’s nothing wrong with being a platypus. It’s an intriguing animal. Recall from Part 1 of this series, it’s one of the only mammals on earth to lays eggs. Certainly nothing needs to be “fixed” about that, much like most EDI systems. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it means helping a business to run more effectively and with fewer process pain-points.

This wraps up the EDI Platypus series but if you’d like to continue the conversation, I’d love to hear from you-

Mike Kersels is the founder of several EDI companies, Highview being the most recent. He has a proven track record of helping businesses improve process, identify productivity gaps, and implement user-focused EDI solutions, of which blockchain-powered EDI is the newest offering.

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