webMethods Touts Collaborative EDI

Says new solutions allow companies to extend EDI to automate business processes

Fairfax, VA  August 20, 2002  Enterprise integration specialist webMethods today rolled out two new solution suites designed to help global organizations upgrade and expand current electronic data interchange (EDI)-based operations by leveraging webMethods' integration platform to automate business processes.

The integration company is staking a claim to "collaborative EDI," which the provider defines as the ability to extend and accelerate traditional EDI processes by incorporating EDI operations as part of a business flow, not as a single execution of document exchange. webMethods said that meaningful operational efficiency can only be achieved when EDI is incorporated as part of a company's information technology infrastructure and integrated with enterprise applications on a single integration backbone.

webMethods' Solution Suite for Collaborative EDI includes the provider's integration platform bundled with fixed-price professional services to help company move from traditional EDI to collaborative EDI. The potential benefits include providing real-time integration with back-end systems for collaborative EDI; replacing tightly coupled EDI architecture with a plug and play architecture to speed development; enabling partners to make rapid and relatively inexpensive connections to critical EDI processes; and moving business strategy from EDI to XML-based industry standards such as CIDX, ebXML, and RosettaNet.

The provider's Solution Suite for Collaborative EDI with Workflow includes the integration platform combined with workflow, with the goals of reducing latency and error by incorporating human intervention to automated processes; provide advanced support for rip and read processes to truly automate EDI operations; accelerating integration with e-mail and Web-based systems for approvals, manual processing, reporting and special handling; and improving processing rates of transactions and Web-enabling EDI processes to give trading partners visibility into processed EDI transactions.

The webMethods solution allows companies to integrate traditional EDI processes with their back-office applications for real-time collaboration with their customers and partners, according to the provider. Traditionally, EDI processes operate in batch mode, with extensive manual handling upon receipt of EDI documents. webMethods said its collaborative EDI solutions eliminate the need for batch processing by enabling real-time business transactions with enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. This should afford companies the opportunity to engage in new strategic activities such as collaborative planning and to have essential business questions, such as availability to promise, answered in real-time.

Dave Couch, vice president of information technology at webMethods customer Spartan Stores, said his company is using the webMethods integration platform's EDI integration capabilities to transition away from traditional EDI processes that have higher maintenance costs and restrictions. "By using the Internet to process EDI transactions, Spartan Stores will achieve the flexible and real-time exchange of business documents with our partners and suppliers, something we could not do previously on our traditional EDI platform," Couch said.

webMethods said its collaborative EDI solutions drive out the cost of traditional EDI operations by giving companies the ability to replace their traditional VAN services by leveraging the flexibility of Internet-based business integration technologies.