On the surface it looks like a common showdown between characters. EDI vs API. Old reliable against the new kid on the block. Some hail for an end to EDI integrations, while for others it’s a time-tested valuable tool for B2B businesses.
More often than not people don’t discuss the full picture when it comes to EDI vs API comparisons. You can cherry pick whatever data you want to validate an opinion, but the truth is that these two tools aren’t necessarily rivals.
Let’s break it down and figure this out.
What is EDI?
EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange and it’s been the well-worn friend of B2B transactions for decades.
EDI has been around since the 1970’s and despite tweaks and optimisations along the way, the general process hasn’t undergone any massive changes during that time. Hence why many people believe that it’s an archaic, outdated old-timer that refuses to give up.
But that’s not the case. You know what else has been around since the 1970s? TCP/IP, the protocol that runs the internet.
It’s solid, reliable and time-tested. It hasn’t needed to alter its basic premise because it works so well at what it does. For decades it has reduced manual processing of bulk data such as Purchase Orders, ASNs, invoices and much more. This streamlines business processes because data transfer uses established messaging standards.
It keeps B2B companies talking to each other without miscommunication – a priceless luxury for large scale companies who would otherwise waste time on manual processing and reviewing of documents.
What is API?
API stands for Application Programming Interfaces and it is a different process than EDI.
It was created in the 2000s and has flourished ever since, perhaps because of its differences from EDI. The new kid on the block showed off its speed, power and variety.
It flourishes in SaaS software because, unlike EDI where data is effectively stored and transmitted, API enables real-time data exchange.
But that doesn’t mean it’s flawless.
EDI vs API – A Comparison Chart
So far, both options have great upsides, and they both work very differently.
But let’s break down the differences in a comparison chart.
|Asynchronous for batch exchange
|Synchronised real-time exchange
|Suitable for mass data
|Not suitable for mass data
|Industry standards and region-specific options
|No established standards
|Data layers must be built
|Fulfils compliance regulations
|Not always regulation-compliant
|System to system batch data conversion
|Real-time single request for information
What Are The Results?
As you can see from the table, EDI is far from past its prime. It provides secure exchanges in standard formats that work well for business partners. It handles volumes which are well suited for today’s supply chains and it does so in a secure and reliable way.
On the other hand, APIs do excel at real-time data transfer. They can make a direct connection between systems. APIs have grown so popular that it’s actually causing an issue for companies who work solely with APIs. One API provider saw its API collection skyrocket from less than half a million to over 46 million in 5 years.
Businesses working solely with APIs must build data layers for each API implementation – with so many around it’s becoming a problem.
So while it picks up where EDI is weak, APIs can also be their worst enemy.
EDI vs API – Better Together
When Marvel introduced Tom Holland as Spiderman in 2017, the effect on fans was polarising. Some adored this new web-slinging version of the classic hero, while others were strict adherents of the classic Tobey Maguire version.
But everything changed when they brought them together in Spiderman: No Way Home.
Die-hard supporters of both old and new loved it. They supported each others weak points and became part of an ultimate crime-fighting team. EDI and API are Tobey and Tom. Classic versus modern. Experienced versus intuitive. It’s not about replacement, it’s about integration.
EDI is far from near its end. Between 59% and 85% of companies still use EDI for its benefits and uses. As 65% of companies use APIs, we can infer that there is definitely a crossover for businesses.
Successful businesses in the years to come will be companies that use APIs, but still make full use of the security and batch size that can only come from EDI solutions.
The next question of course is which EDI solution is right for you? Where can you get an EDI integration that is right for your company?
You need an EDI solution that is scalable. One that is cost-friendly for smaller businesses but that can handle size of information exchange for larger supply chains.
You need our EDI Solution.
Our solution has an easy on-boarding process, is fully scalable and data secure. Your business can save on costs, exchange data more accurately, and improve your business productivity!