Evolution of EDI Technology


One of the first use of EDI technology was in 1948. A standard manifest system was designed to transmit data by telex, radio-teletype, or telephone by the US army to track cargo during the German war. Since then, EDI technology continued to evolve and became a standardized communication channel for businesses across the world to exchange data electronically.

Definition of EDI

Electronic Data Interchange is the transfer of large amounts of information electronically in a specified format/standard between business partners.

Any type of business that deals with large amounts of identical paperwork/form data can directly benefit from adopting an EDI solution. The benefits of using a automated EDI system are clear:

  • immense savings in time
  • significant cost savings
  • reduced drain on resources overall
  • reduced error rates in data transfer (we almost want to say ‘eliminate’ here!)
  • improved security of data being transferred
  • reliability – you can have confidence that data is reaching its destination
EDI WORKFLOW - Commport Communications

History of EDI

How EDI Used Across Various Industries

The adoption of EDI has seen rapid growth in the last several years. Sectors such as Retail, Finance, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Government, Utility & Construction, Logistics, and Foodservice have fully embraced and encouraged the use of EDI within their supplier networks.

Here is the list of EDI use cases in various industries,

Supply Chain (Retail, Manufacturing, Automotive)
  • Purchasing
  • Order fulfillment
  • Shipping confirmations
  • International orders
  • Parts order fulfillments
  • Exchanging patient health information
  • Health insurance processing
  • Prescription information exchanges
  • Scheduling shipments
  • Tracking goods
  • Generating invoices
  • Providing audit trails
  • Flight information exchanges
  • Passenger name records (PNRs)
  • International compliance and standardization
How EDI Used Across Various Industries

Different Types of EDI Solutions

Types of EDI - Commport Communications

There are 8 Types of EDI solutions which include:

1. Integrated EDI Solution

An integrated EDI solution translates your inbound documents like purchase orders from your trading partners’ EDI files into a format that can be imported directly into your ERP, accounting, or another business system. The translation is fast and reliable so you can focus on your business

2. Internet EDI (Web EDI/Cloud EDI)

Communication of EDI messages via the Internet. Internet EDI is an economical solution that is easy to use. Even smaller or mid-sized vendors need to be compliant with their large retail customers. As a low-cost option, Internet EDI enables you to get up and running with very little. All you need is a computer/laptop and an internet connection to begin exchanging EDI documents.

3. EDI Outsourcing / Managed EDI services

EDI outsourcing is the process of having a third to manage a part or the entire process of using EDI to exchange data with trading partners

4. Direct EDI/Point-to-Point

Direct EDI, sometimes referred to as point-to-point EDI, establishes a single connection between two business partners. In this approach, a business would connect with each of its business partners individually. 

5. EDI via AS2 

AS2 stands for Applicability Statement 2. AS2 is one of the most popular methods for transporting EDI data securely and reliably

6. EDI via sFTP

sFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol it provides organizations with a higher level of file transfer protection which allows businesses to securely transfer billing data, funds, and data recovery files

7. EDI via FTPS

FTPS stands for File Transfer Protocol Secure which is an extension to the commonly used File Transfer Protocol. In FTPS, FTP data travels through the network using either Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols.

8. EDI VAN (EDI via Value Added Network)

The majority of EDI exchanged today occurs through EDI Value-Added Network (VAN). As long as two organizations are using the same VAN, communication is possible regardless of which EDI protocol is used to transfer information. Unlike Direct EDI this means organizations can manage one connection with the EDI VAN instead of separate lines of communication with each potential partner. Many businesses prefer this model to save them from the ongoing complexities of supporting the varying communication protocols required by different business partners.

Benefits of EDI

  1. Eliminate manual data entry errors
  2. Automating paper-based tasks frees up your staff for higher-value tasks and provides them the tools to be more productive
  3. Shortening order processing and delivery helps organizations reduce inventory
  4. EDI enhances transactional security
  5. Improve business relationships
  6. EDI promotes sustainability and reduces CO2 emissions by replacing paper-based processes with electronic alternatives
Benefits of EDI - Commport Communications

The Future of EDI

EDI will be the core document exchange capability to support innovations such as the

  1. Internet of Things (IoT),
  2. Blockchain technology
  3. Artificial intelligence
  4. Cloud technology
  5. Application program interface
1. Internet of Things (IOT)

IoT sensors are incorporated into a shipment’s packaging and tied to periodic EDI 214 messages to improve package condition visibility in near real-time. 

2. Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology underpinning EDI information flows for shipments to offer a shared version of the truth that can quickly resolve and even avoid chargeback disputes. 

Blockchain is a ledger-based technology that records changes relating to anything of value (e.g. goods or currency). Once created, each block is essentially a read-only record of a change. This created, blocks then can’t be tampered with. Thus system ensures data accuracy whilst enabling maximum visibility for all parties.

3. Artificial Intelligence 

An AI agent that monitors all relevant events and information connected to a shipment and can identify a non-compliant event. AI agents can also determine if a reshipment is required, analyze the most efficient source of replacement, initiate a new shipment and accept an authorized return

4. Cloud Technology

Cloud technologies are another big trend in EDI, as many companies are adopting to cloud-based applications because of ease of access, use, and affordability. No need to install additional software and no prior EDI knowledge is required to use the cloud-based EDI system.

5. EDI and API

EDI and API Integration to support partners by adding APIs to your EDI setup which allows your business partners more opportunities to validate information through APIs, you can help them avoid common EDI transaction errors


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology stands as a cornerstone in modern business communication, offering a transformative approach to data exchange. By providing a standardized and automated means of transmitting business documents, EDI enhances efficiency, reduces errors, and fosters seamless collaboration among trading partners.

As businesses continue to evolve, EDI technology remains a crucial tool for staying competitive, improving operational workflows, and navigating the complexities of a digitalized global economy.

Ready to find out more about Commport EDI Solutions?

Commport offers affordable EDI solutions in the market. Contact us today for a free quote!

Need Help? Download: EDI Buyers Guide

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Frequently Asked Questions

EDI technology involves the use of computer systems and standardized protocols to electronically exchange business documents such as invoices, purchase orders, and shipping notices between trading partners.

EDI technology differs by automating data exchange. Unlike traditional paper-based processes, EDI enables the electronic transmission of documents in a standardized format, reducing manual errors and accelerating communication.

Yes, businesses of all sizes can benefit from adopting EDI technology. It offers scalability, allowing both small and large enterprises to streamline processes, improve accuracy, and enhance collaboration with trading partners.

The key components of EDI technology include data mapping, translation software, communication protocols, and standardized formats such as EDIFACT or ANSI X12. These components work together to ensure the accurate and standardized exchange of electronic documents.

EDI technology can be highly secure. It employs encryption, secure communication protocols, and compliance with industry standards to safeguard the transmission of sensitive business data, ensuring confidentiality and integrity.

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