EDI IS DEAD – OR IS IT?

Guest post by Gregg Lanni, EDI SME

As I celebrate my 35th year in EDI, I thought I would pass this along to remind everyone that no matter how hard everyone tries, EDI is still here.

EDI is dead; I first heard these words a few years after I started my EDI career, in the early 90’s. Seems everyone wanted this technology to die quickly but no one had any idea to what to replace it with. The fate of EDI would be short-lived, they said.

EDI is dead; this came up again in the late 90s; everyone thought XML would be the great replacer for EDI, forgetting that VAN costs and the size of XML files would kill most little users of this technology, and EDI marched on.

EDI is dead came up again in the early 2000s, this time by my new CEO of the VAN I was working at. I thought that it was interesting that he would say that to a room full of EDI professionals, but he was gone soon after, and EDI still ran on. The thinking was JSON or CXML would replace EDI, but the standards kept coming, and companies kept using EDI.

EDI is dead; now it’s 2015, and everyone is still looking for the next big thing and they think they finally found it – API – that was going to replace EDI, and yes, some very large retailers and manufacturers are using API technology in certain aspects of the supply chain, but in the end, EDI continues to grow.

EDI is dead, and here we are today, 2024 and now AI is going to be the great replacement of EDI, it will run supply chain on its own, learning and growing and…..well, I have now been doing EDI for 35 years, and every time they claim EDI is dead, well, guess what? It’s still here, we still keep using it, and it continues to grow.

Now, you should ask the big question: why?

Because so many have spent so much in developing EDI to run their businesses that ripping it out and replacing it with anything else would cost trillions of dollars worldwide and take years to adopt. Given today’s markets and supply chain frailty, no one is willing to risk making a move that big, no matter what technology comes our way. EDI is here, used by just about everyone in every aspect of retail, manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, transportation, finance, and warehousing. Does anyone really think this can be ripped out and replaced that easily? New software will come, new communications maybe, but in the end, EDI is still here, still being used, and still chugging along.

Sorry to say, I will be dead and long forgotten before EDI dies, and I can feel great knowing I was a part of this from almost the very beginning. 35 years and counting, what a hell of a ride it has been.

EDI is dead; long live EDI.

Gregg Lanni, EDI SME

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