Importance of EDI

Electronic Data Interchange, commonly known as "EDI" is the process by which information is transferred between two computer systems so that the two parties are sharing the same data. Usually the data is converted to EDI format and sent in an email to the recipient whose systems will automatically convert it to information in their own computer systems. For instance, if a customer service person from a freight forwarding company finds out the new ETA of a ship, she can upload this information from her system to that of her customer's through EDI. This way both parties have the same information. This is a simplistic example of course however this is the type of information that can be continuously shared through EDI. EDI has changed the speed of international container shipping and international business as a whole. The process becomes instant instead of waiting for paperwork or phone calls. Not only does it allow for customers and service providers to have information automatically uploaded to their customers' systems, but it also allows for information to be sent within their own systems. This is especially great from the steamship lines. In the past, a shipment manifest would be needed to process all of the information on a shipment. This would require a hard copy to be couriered to the ship as well as all of the discharge ports. This means any changes that were made would need to be corrected with several copies and the needed information could easily be delayed. Now the manifests are uploaded through EDI and everyone has the information on each ship immediately. EDI has become an important part of international business because it can speed up the processes for any data exchange. In the information age that we live in, these small portions of time saved can mean millions of dollars saved as well.