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THE HISTORY OF EDI: FROM PAPER TO REAL-TIME ELECTRONIC EXCHANGES

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) has become a key element of modern business, enabling companies from different sectors to share information and transactions in real time.

However, this has not always been the case.

Before the advent of EDI, trade exchanges were slow and manually intensive, often involving piles of paper and high administrative costs. In this article, we'll explore the history of EDI and how it has become an indispensable tool for businesses.


The beginnings of EDI

EDI was invented in the 1960s by American Airlines. The aim was to simplify purchasing processes for companies by enabling the electronic exchange of invoices, orders and delivery notes. However, EDI was not yet accessible to many companies, due to the high cost of setting up dedicated IT systems.


The expansion of EDI

During the 1970s and 1980s, electronic data interchange began to expand to other industries including healthcare, financial services and the public sector. Computer system costs began to decrease, enabling larger companies to turn to EDI. However, despite its expansion, EDI was still limited to companies with a solid and expensive IT infrastructure.

Modern EDI

With the emergence of the Internet and e-commerce in the mid-1990s, EDI became more accessible to companies of all sizes. Data exchange was facilitated by standardized norms and protocols, enabling companies from different industries to connect seamlessly.

Today, EDI is used by companies of all sizes to exchange information and transactions in real time. The benefits of EDI include faster and more efficient work processes, greater visibility of business transactions, and reduced administrative costs.


In conclusion

The history of EDI shows a steady evolution from its early days, when it was an expensive system reserved for the largest companies, to its current position as an accessible tool for businesses of all sizes. Thanks to technology and the evolution of e-commerce, EDI has become a fast and reliable way for companies to manage their business activities. Today, EDI is widely used in many sectors, including distribution, manufacturing, healthcare and finance.


EDI continues to evolve to adapt to different business' needs and changing technology. Current developments include the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve data quality and transaction speed. The future of EDI looks bright, with new opportunities to further improve business processes.


In summary, the history of EDI shows how an original idea to simplify purchasing processes for companies evolved into an essential tool for modern business activities. EDI continues to be a key way for companies to manage their business efficiently and be more competitive in a constantly changing world.


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