Electronic data interchange (EDI) has long played a critical role in the integration of external B2B systems and platforms. Application programming interfaces (APIs), meanwhile, have grown as a means to deliver select functions in real-time, which can be leveraged by other applications.
In conversations around these two data intermediaries, the focus tends to be on EDI to API migration: many predicted that EDI and the integrations used to move these document exchanges between businesses would be dead by now. So why is it that they are still thriving? Here’s why the better bet is to find a way to let EDI and API work together.
EDI isn’t going away anytime soon
Business-to-business electronic data interchange, otherwise known as B2B/EDI, refers to the use of EDI for the purposes of exchanging documents or communications. For instance, a vendor could use B2B/EDI to deliver invoices or purchase orders versus the more cumbersome process of sending paper invoices.
Even in today’s era of advanced technology, electronic data interchanges continue to enable connections — and with those connections intact, EDI remains a viable option. In fact, there are even markets where EDI is expected to grow in the coming years. Case in point: the EDI market in healthcare is expected to reach over $9 billion by 2030.
From a sustained presence to new growth, two main factors support the use of B2B EDI:
- Fundamentally, EDI works and once you get past the initial setup, it is easy to keep running
- EDI industry processes – such as order-to-cash, procure to pay, and others – are standardized, globally-known, and well documented.
An alternative to EDI to API migration: the B2B integration platform
The good news is you don’t need to undertake a wholesale EDI to API migration. With so many existing connections, either direct point-to-point or via a VAN, migrating would be time consuming, expensive, and unreasonable – with a significant impact on operations. This is poured concrete in the active runway. You don’t have to get rid of all your old processes — in fact, the better way is to bring together EDI and API in one central place.
That’s where a modern B2B integration platform comes into the picture. Low risk and high reward, a B2B platform serves as a bridge between legacy systems and new SaaS systems, without any impact to operations. With more connection options, businesses have more agility to meet new industry protocols and formats as well as support innovation and new integrations.
To put this into perspective, EDI accounts for 76.5% of all B2B digital sales. But, by 2023, it’s projected that APIs will facilitate 50% of B2B transactions. These statistics lend themselves to the idea of a hybrid model where both EDI and APIs play an integral role in the modern enterprise and its success.
Overcoming IT silos with EDI & API integration
Knocking down silos is a critical ingredient for collaborative success. While embracing a culture that actively searches for and seeks out the individual talents of your IT team, API integration can help break down communication barriers, too.
Many companies have separate IT groups that head up these different integration patterns — each of which have their own specialists, service levels, and onboarding processes. While many businesses are making it work with separate B2B/EDI and API silos, an integration platform is the more ideal route.
With an integration platform, different integration patterns like EDI and API can be brought to one place where they can be modified or combined into new solutions.
Why an integration platform makes the most sense
A B2B Integration platform can ease the struggles and delays caused by day-to-day activities — and as a provider of this type of platform, we’ve seen the benefits first-hand.
OneHealthPort, which operates Washington State’s Health Information Exchange (HIE), is achieving its goal of seamlessly connecting healthcare organizations of all sizes in the Pacific Northwest. Using Axway’s EDI and API solutions together, the organization processes some 50 million transactions per year, solving problems around workflow and information exchange that cross enterprise boundaries.
While this speaks to the impact of a B2B integration platform, it’s worth noting some of the overarching benefits tied to this investment:
- DevOps-friendly, low-code/no-code integrations help cut onboarding time to minutes.
- There is access to a large number of tools and experts with existing skills that relate to specific patterns and platforms.
- You can track all data and apps across your enterprise and B2B ecosystem to meet SLAs and optimize operations.
And when your teams start to dive more fully into APIs, make sure they have the integration platform they need to seamlessly bring together all these different integration patterns and build new solutions.
EDI and API work better together. Discover 6 FAQs (and answers) you need to know about today’s API-enabled B2B integration.