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Electronic data interchange (EDI) may not be dominating the tech press pages like cloud computing or the much-fangled ‘digital transformation’ but it’s a technology that is at the core of all B2B organisations.

EDI in its most basic form is used for the exchange of orders and invoices and enables companies to simplify and streamline their business processes.  By enabling computer systems to “talk” directly to supplier systems using the same standard format, vital documents can be seamlessly transferred electronically.

EDI helps organisations to reduce costs and human errors, while improving processing speed and partner relationships (more on that in a second).

EDI is at the heart of most business operations, and yet it’s undergoing a transformation of its own in this digital era. The ascent of cloud computing and a new-found appetite from CIOs to outsource IT services (in a bid to free up resources for more strategic tasks) means that the age of managed EDI has arrived.

Why CIOs must consider managed EDI

So, what are the benefits of going to a managed service provider (MSP) for EDI, especially when you could have your own in-house team? Well, managed EDI is proving to be more cost-effective than in-house systems, whilst also reducing errors and improving supplier relationships.

Indeed, with many CIOs actively pursuing the vision of ‘cloud-first’ – with half an eye on the possibility of ‘cloud-only’, in-house EDI goes against the grain of companies looking to become more agile and responsive.

For example, an internal EDI team can be costly, processes can be time-consuming and team members constantly need to be kept up-to-date as far as skills are concerned and if they leave, the organisation can be left exposed. In short, it requires a lot of management and care.

Furthermore, with human errors still common, under-resourced in-house EDI teams can ultimately have a detrimental impact on your business. If orders are delayed, or worse aren’t fulfilled, you risk losing business and competitive advantage – and that is simply unacceptable in 2017 when Amazon guarantees the delivery of goods to your doorstep within the hour.

Poor EDI is bad for business – and that can be bad news for CIOs too. With CIOs increasingly being asked by the CEO to step up and away from the day-to-day “firefighting” to carry out more strategic tasks, CEOs expect IT to drive business transformation. Indeed, a recent PwC report found that close to 70% of CEOs are investing in IT to reduce costs and become more efficient, whilst 54% are also pushing funds to IT for initiatives that will result in business growth.

Today’s CEOs expect IT to drive business transformation in the digital world – and clearly failures resulting in reduced efficiency or poor performance will not be tolerated.

Managed EDI: Case studies

Increasing numbers of businesses are moving to a fully-managed EDI service in order to drive new business benefits, such as improved efficiency and the development of better products.

Take UK-based dairy company Yeo Valley, for example, who adopted MSP TrueCommerce’s fully managed EDI service.

“As a supplier of perishable items our supply chain processes are planned to ensure that our products are delivered on time and in prime condition and EDI plays a crucial part in this process,” said Ian Govier, head of IT and business systems.

“[A] lack of 24/7 support for our EDI solution had been an issue for us in the past and was, therefore, a key factor in the decision to move to TrueCommerce.”

Yet the benefits of EDI, when working with an MSP, can extend beyond simply improving product delivery or other internal processes. Managed EDI  also improves relationships in a company’s own supply chain, and some say this enhanced communication is essential. After all, supply chains globally are undergoing huge transformation, from the digitisation of services to the deployment of new technologies and processes.

Ensuring the supply chain works for your organisation is vital in the face of this change, and this is where managed EDI can help, making trading configuration easy and delivering a robust and scalable infrastructure which all partners can leverage.

This is the experience of retailer Booths, whose IT and supply director Andrew Rafferty, said: “Having a good relationship with our suppliers is a main priority and one we strive to improve upon every day.

“Moving to EDI and TrueCommerce’s managed service enables both Booths and our suppliers to benefit from improved visibility and traceability of transactions, ultimately leading to well-stocked shelves and a first-class shopping experience for our customers.”

In today’s highly-competitive digital marketplace, CIOs are now looking at next-generation EDI managed services; not simply a cloud-based hosted solution, but a fully-managed one that enables them to focus on other strategic initiatives. TrueCommerce’s Managed EDI service can help you stay ahead.