Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 41 seconds

Last week I spoke with Michael Davidovich, CEO of Direct EDI (www.directedi.com), a provider of Internet-based EDI services.

Image What is the current focus of your company's business?

Direct EDI Inc is focused on delivering to customers innovative, powerful and flexible web-based EDI products and services. Our web based system is our flagship product and it is expanding. The company's background is in web development. Our focus has been in creating web applications that take advantage of the web, including things such as remote accessibility, ease of use, accessibility, and intuitive functionality. Our goal is to fulfill the need for the translation and movement of EDI data. We use the latest web technologies and bring technological innovations to EDI.

Image How has this focus changed in the last 2 years?

The spread of technology and rate of adoption of new systems by SMB (small and medium businesses) has increased the demand for consolidation and interoperability of the systems. Direct EDI responded by expanding our product offerings to include products which offer companies direct connections into their back end systems.

We initially approached the very small users. We are approaching customers with applications like QuickBooks to connect to their local applications and transfer to our web service. Now these same customers are expanding and implementing more complex applications. This has forced us to expand beyond our web interface to integrate with their applications to reduce their manual processing efforts. We want to accommodate these customers.

Image What are your current initiatives?

We are working on a turn-key web-based EDI system. This includes a powerful data translator, with the ease of a web interface. A system that can be "plugged in" into existing IT infrastructure, and offer seamless data integration with existing systems and preserve the advantages of the web interface to end user.

We wanted to have our own translator rather than using one developed and controlled by another company. We are now offering a turn-key translator that can integrate to the existing infrastructure but keep the ease of the web-based interface as a front end. Initially this was developed for our own internal use, but now we are offering it as part of our turn-key offering.

Our system is geared to the smaller companies that are not particularly prospects for products like Sterling's Gentran product.

Image How has the market for EDI changed with the impact of the Internet?

We have always been a web based company but our customers have seen a change by the technology making EDI more accessible. The reach of the internet created opportunities for companies to do business in real time and offer each other depth of visibility into data which was not possible before. Small and medium sized companies find them self struggling to meet these technological challenges. This is where Direct EDI is most effective. We take advantage of the ease and accessibility of the internet to bring to these companies powerful EDI applications and expertise.

Image What are the greatest challenges for your customers?

Our customers don't want to be the EDI experts. The better they are at what they do, the more demand for EDI they experience. Dealing with the requirements of 20 retail chains, keeping up with their updates, new initiatives, new documents, continually accommodate for 20 individual EDI specifications of a single business document is painful. Customers frustrations are loud and clear.

Image How are you helping your customers address these challenges?

Direct EDI strives to solve its customers' issues. Our customers use our simple, uniform, web-based system to do business with all their various trading partners. Direct EDI maintains and accommodates for a multitude of various EDI standards while users are looking at the intuitive and familiar web interface.

Image Who should pay for testing?

Because the errors in data communication and accuracy can carry significant financial consequences, testing such communications is a must. However, the technological expertise of companies varies, therefore we believe that each company should pay for their costs of testing.

When we set up a new relationship with a trading partner we do extensive testing with them. We go through extensive testing before we go live. Not all companies have that ability. When we add vendors to a customer we don't see the point of testing every vendor. The retailer may simply be following their policy. If there were more intelligence applied to these testing policies there would be less expense involved. In reality there is no advantage to the retailer since all transactions are going through the same test.

Retailers who increase the costs are only shooting themselves in the foot. They should be making things easier for themselves and their suppliers.

Image How do you categorize 'good' testing versus 'bad' or useless testing?

Today's popular implementation of EDI testing and high testing fees are more of a roadblock in spread of EDI use than assistance.

Bad testing: High testing fees which drive the costs of initiation of an EDI relationship, create the unnecessary barriers to entry. A blind testing process does not account for a company's technological abilities. Test data does not resemble the real live data. Test errors are not clearly explained and communicated.

Good testing: The testing process is cost effective, mutually beneficial, clear and takes into account a company's abilities.

Image What is your stance on the eC-BP organization and tenets?

The effort is much needed in the industry. In my opinion eC-BP can play a large role in being the voice which spreads the knowledge of good e-commerce practices and identifies poor ones. Companies who exchange ideas and learn from each other can excel fester, adopt ideas across industries and mutually benefit from such exchange.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 May 2007
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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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