Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

*Information below is excerpted from a Wikipedia article.*

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) refers to the structured transmission of data between organizations by electronic means. It is used to transfer electronic documents from one computer system to another, i.e. from one trading partner to another trading partner. It is more than mere E-mail; for instance, organizations might replace bills of lading and even Cheques with appropriate EDI messages. It also refers specifically to a family of standards, including the X12 series. However, EDI also exhibits its pre-Internet roots, and the standards tend to focus on ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)-formatted single messages rather than the whole sequence of conditions and exchanges that make up an inter-organization business process.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in a 1996 publication [1] defines Electronic Data Interchange as "the computer-to-computer interchange of strictly formatted messages that represent documents other than monetary instruments. EDI implies a sequence of messages between two parties, either of whom may serve as originator or recipient. The formatted data representing the documents may be transmitted from originator to recipient via telecommunications or physically transported on electronic storage media.". It goes on further to say that "In EDI, the usual processing of received messages is by computer only. Human intervention in the processing of a received message is typically intended only for error conditions, for quality review, and for special situations. For example, the transmission of binary or textual data is not EDI as defined here unless the data are treated as one or more data elements of an EDI message and are not normally intended for human interpretation as part of online data processing." [1]

EDI can be formally defined as 'The transfer of structured data, by agreed message standards, from one computer system to another without human intervention'. Most other definitions used are variations on this theme. Even in this era of technologies such as XML web services, the Internet and the World Wide Web, EDI is still the data format used by the vast majority of electronic commerce transactions in the world.

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Wikipedia: Electronics Data Interchange (EDI)

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