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XML is neither a lethal bullet that will doom EDI – nor a silver bullet that will save it. But calling on both for B2B and other uses can be very beneficial for businesses, according to expoQ Vice President for Strategic Services Beth Gold-Bernstein.

“It’s not an idea that’s ahead of its time,” she stressed, “it’s one that can be implemented now; and companies doing it now are realizing very large ROIs.”

Gold-Bernstein and Sterling Commerce Group Product Marketing Manager Chris Wallace detailed the EDI/XML process-centric approach to cost-effective integration in the expoQ Webinar “The ROI of Leveraging EDI for Enterprise Integration,” part of the Leveraging Your Existing EDI Solution for the Enterprise webinar series sponsored by Sterling Commerce. The presentation elaborated on a theme developed in an earlier series installment (EDI’s Role in an Increasingly XML World.

Gold-Bernstein said EDI’s coexistence with XML would be similar to the adaptation of mainframes to distributed computing: both older technologies represent significant investments for companies and remain centrally placed for revenue-cycle transactions. “Even if they’re adding new XML transactions, many organizations are not replacing EDI. Basically, they’re not going to touch or fix something that isn’t broken in the first place,” she noted.

“XML is also not a silver bullet,” Gold-Bernstein observed. “XML for B2B is not simple; it’s a verbose format and there’s no ROI in creating existing EDI documents and transactions in XML.”

Instead, she outlined how EDI and XML will co-exist amid the continued evolution of VAN services, and pointed to that likely course as a prime ROI source. Decoupling EDI from the transport mechanism by enveloping legacy EDI and new XML documents in ebXML and shipping them over the Internet would change EDI into a data-exchange message format for specific industries.

It would also allow easier outsourcing of traditional VAN services such as secure document exchange, interconnect services, data translation and transformation and management capabilities, rather than bringing them all in-house or building them only on an XML-based B2B solution.

“It’s not just all one big bundle; you’re going to pay for transactions; you’re going to pay for services, and it’s going to be a cost-benefit to outsource those services … especially if you have both EDI and XML-based B2B solutions, “ Gold-Bernstein noted.


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