|Moving EDI data around the globe is old hat to most of the folks reading this ec-bp newsletter. Managing the connections and translations can get complex and picky when it comes to the details of the files and the changes that need to be incorporated into translators to make processes flow properly. For most EDI practitioners, their roles are fairly well defined and fit well with established concepts. But as computing devices become more pervasive and processing power more available, I think the line between what is EDI and what is associated with end user interaction is changing.Our survey about using portable devices from a couple months ago indicated some interesting trends. Like the rest of the population, the majority (76%) of respondents indicated that they carried some kind of smart phone or tablet with them when they were away from their work location. That means that those folks have at least the capacity to access their data and applications if it were important to do so.
At the same time, 88% indicated that they did not connect to their supply chain systems using these devices. It could be that they never found it necessary to do so, or that they didn’t want to be bothered with work issues while they were away. But I believe the issue has more to do with having the proper applications in place to easily and quickly connect to their systems.
In fact, the survey asked respondents if they thought their mobile devices would be good tools to connect to their EDI systems, and 51% indicated that if a appropriate application were available, they would make use of it. Interestingly, an additional 28% said that if their EDI systems were Internet-based, they would access them via their portable devices. Taken together, 79% would consider accessing their supply chain systems if they had access to the proper tools.
But is there really a reason to extend access beyond the company firewall? If every transaction processes correctly, and all systems work as they should, there is little reason to access these systems. But the reality is that there are always issues to be managed. 68% of respondents to his survey said yes to the question, “Do you believe there are advantages to accessing EDI/supply chain information when you’re away from your desk?”
As mobile apps become more commonplace, forward thinking EDI providers and the companies that use them will see the demand for these apps from their users. Even if the apps deliver low levels of functionality for status checking and minor management tasks, not having these extensions to their systems will eventually be seen as missing features.
Source: Scott Koegler, ec-bp eCommerce Best Practices