EDI-INT Opens e-Business Avenues

As a concept, "e-business" has a lot of potential. In reality, however, the IT world is only beginning to establish the protocol necessary for companies to conduct business without limitations. One big step to lowering e-business boundaries is the implementation of the Internet EDI (EDI-INT), a standard designed to expand upon the traditional point-to-point electronic commerce paradigm.

E-commerce software developer Harbinger Corp. (Atlanta) keeps in stride with the progress made by EDI-INT through the combination of the Harbinger Network and the company’s TrustedLink Templar solution. In addition to the company’s Harbinger Network achieving compatibility with CommerceNet’s EDI-INT standards, Harbinger’s TrustedLink Templar software has been approved for use with the Harbinger Network, providing Harbinger’s customers with the software to go along with the service.

CommerceNet, a California-based industry consortium dedicated to accelerating the growth of Internet commerce and creating business opportunities for its members, developed EDI-INT to ensure secure EDI over the public Internet. TrustedLink Templar is designed to enable users to route e-commerce data and objects through the Harbinger Network, and on to other networks, regardless of the software installed at the other trading partner’s site.

The combination of Harbinger Network’s EDI-INT compliance and TrustedLink Templar’s approval help open Internet EDI to a larger number of e-businesses. Using EDI-INT, trading partners are not required to have the same software, which expands upon the number of Internet trading partners with which a company can exchange documents.

Harbinger places its TrustedLink Templar in front of the Harbinger Network, according to John Wernke, the company’s VP of enterprise product marketing. "This enables the Network to act as a third party that trading partners can access." Trading partners essentially use the Network to take or leave information. Harbinger also offers a variety of payment options for access to the Harbinger Network, including a monthly mailbox fee and transaction-based charges.

Although the EDI applications existing today are an adequate means of conducting e-commerce, they typically require all trading partners to be on the same Value-Added Network (VAN). There is, however, a significant expense associated with the coordination necessary to make this happen, as applications must still be built for both ends of the transaction, according to research conducted by James C. Brancheau, an IS faculty member within the Accounting and Information Systems (AIS) Division of the University of Colorado’s College of Business (Boulder).

The Internet enhances e-commerce by opening a communications channel between trading partners. Internet communications in EDI will allow smaller trading partners to reap the benefits that EDI has to offer, explains Brancheau. In addition, larger companies who already have EDI capabilities will have a larger pool of potential trading partners.

Potential drawbacks to using the Internet for EDI include security and acknowledgment issues. Security involves many areas including encryption, authentication, and public and private keys, he says. Although these are still issues in paper-based and VAN-based e-commerce, the Internet increases the availability of data to a larger group of users.

Brancheau also points out that in order for EDI to succeed on the Internet it must become "feasible to send EDI messages securely" and it must be easy for businesses to get set up with EDI applications.

In other Harbinger news, the company announces the availability of its TrustedLink EDI/400 V.3, which features an enhanced visual data-mapping facility that greatly accelerates implementation and deployment of enterprise e-commerce solutions. This latest release of TrustedLink EDI/400 is designed to help automate the flow of trading information with business applications. Enhanced data mapping simplifies trading partner configuration while providing rapid enterprise resource planning (ERP) application integration.