“Will API totally replace EDI?” is a question we encounter often on LinkedIn and at trade shows. Given our unique position of unrivaled expertise in both EDI and API connections, we thought it was time to weigh in on the issue. Many people assume that there is an impending technological battle of supremacy coming down the pipe between EDI and API, but our analysis indicates a much different and more nuanced future relationship between the two methods of connectivity.
The Rise of APIs
The future of our global supply chain is one where older legacy systems will need to operate in tandem with a multitude of emerging cloud-based technologies. API connections have risen in popularity with the development of these new cloud-based tools, mainly as a mechanism to gain insight and visibility into internal systems. It is worth noting however that there is currently no standardized, universally recognized format for exchanging data externally via API. API connections generally function on a one-to-one basis per trading partner. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used to exchange data externally, but EDI has years of standards work and adoption behind it, remaining very entrenched in the current supply chain. This is particularly true in legacy systems which many organizations have little interest in or resources to replace.
Supply Chain Symbiosis
EDI and API technologies are destined to work together to create a more efficient, resilient supply chain rather than competing to serve the same function. An example of this relationship would be an organization that utilizes API connections to glean a real-time look at their internal system data, automatically pulls that data, and uses it to generate EDI/JSON documents. APIs could provide a real-time lens into things like load availability, payment status, inventory, and delivery status, while EDI documents would be utilized to exchange data with trading partners. When the practicalities of EDI and API are objectively analyzed, it becomes evident that both technologies will play key but different roles in the future supply chain.
In addition to each technology’s unique roles in the coming decades, capability in both EDI and API connectivity allows manufacturers, retail entities, carriers, brokers, and shippers to cast a wider net and reach more trading partners. There are many use cases in which attaining full EDI/API interoperability makes the most sense for an organization. Kleinschmidt recently assisted the supply chain team at Tesla by designing a secure interface between Kleinschmidt’s platform and Tesla’s RESTful API. This EDI-to-API integration allows carriers who only have traditional EDI capabilities to feed EDI data to Kleinschmidt which is then turned into Tesla-specific JSON schemas. The JSON schemas are then sent to Tesla via RESTful API. By utilizing a partner like Kleinschmidt to expand their technical capabilities to include API connections, these motor carriers unlocked new business opportunities and expanded their trading partner network. Tesla was also able to expand its carrier pool without devoting internal resources towards onboarding or having to support multiple integration technology stacks.
In the coming decades, there will be continual unique individual use cases for both EDI and API connectivity. We also predict that there are a great number of ways the two will work together in a complementary fashion. Kleinschmidt has been the foremost expert in both EDI and API technology for decades and we aren’t slowing down. If you want to leverage EDI and API connections that work in tandem to help your organization achieve supply chain harmony, click the link below or email us at email@example.com
About the Author
Jeff Korengold is an Inside Sales and Marketing Representative at Kleinschmidt. He prides himself on his commitment to helping companies of all sizes achieve supply chain excellence. To learn more about Jeff and the Sales team, visit the Sales team page here. To learn more about Kleinschmidt’s innovative data integration solutions, please fill out the form here.