I had the good fortune to be able to spend time with SAP Lab's VP, Line of Business Solutions, Carter Johnson yesterday discussing SAP's strategy around EDI and B2B E-Commerce. I actually attempted to record a podcast of our conversation that did not record (^^*&%#@$%^^)!!!! So, I will try again and post it here.
One of the questions that I asked Carter was, "Why is SAP getting involved in EDI now with the SAP Information Interchange by Crossgate, since EDI/B2B e-commerce has been around for three or four decades." Carter responded, "It is about time SAP got involved in EDI." Carter makes a good point. Until SAP's recent involvement in EDI, SAP customers were each left to their own devices to figure out how to independently support EDI/B2B and connect with their trading partners. This was an incredibility inefficient way for SAP customers to support EDI. There is no way to leverage the work of the SAP community, and no re-use of trading partner maps in this model.
Carter says that SAP learned a lot from companies like Linkedin. Linkedin created an online community for individuals to upload their work and contact information. Each person connects once and sets up their account and personal information. If a person changes jobs, contact information or positions, all parties that are connected to this individual receives the update. Wouldn't it be cumbersome, if we all individually, had to manually update our address books each time someone in our network updated their data? Carter added that SAP EDI should work the same way and it does with SAP Information Interchange. SAP customers should be able to connect their EDI business processes to the SAP Information Interchange once, and then conn
ect with all the other companies that make up the community. This is smart EDI and smart B2B e-commerce.
I asked Carter if SAP customers should rip out legacy EDI systems and replace with EDI in the cloud via SAP's Information Interchange? He said that is an unlikely scenario, but when companies are consolidating ERPs, merging businesses, or need to renew their maintenance agreements with legacy EDI vendors, then these are the times companies want to look for a smarter way to do EDI.
Carter shared that recently a large SAP customer called him and said that had employed 200 people to just keep the maps to their EDI trading partners updated. This represents millions of dollars in expense every year to support and keep updated their existing trading partner community. They were very interested to learn how the SAP Information Interchange could reduce this costs and make the entire EDI support system smarter and more efficient.
It is fascinating to me to think about an online community of SAP customers all connecting to an online community for business-to-business e-commerce, finding each other and exchanging business transactions in the cloud.
Click here to read more about SAP Information Interchange.
I will try again to record a podcast with Carter and share it with you.
Kevin R Benedict Independent e-Invoicing/EDI Consultant, Analyst and Blogger
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*Full Disclosure: I am an independent consultant that has worked with and for many of the companies