I have been in the IT sales industry for more years than I care to remember, selling a variety of business solutions to differing industries.

One thing they all had in common was:  that for me to make a sale there had to be win/win outcome and by that I mean a sound and provable Return On Investment!

Out of all products and services that I have sold, none have come close to the returns that a company can get by doing EDI with their Supplier base. The benefits which are spread across most company departments and are huge, resulting in savings on admin, running costs, reduced stockholdings and the provision of improved customer service and therefore increased sales/customer retention.

What baffles me is that the percentage of companies that actually take advantage of this is by far the smallest of any to whom I have had the pleasure of providing cost effective business solutions.

Why is that? The answers could be manyfold… perhaps it is because it is cross company and no single person really takes ownership… maybe it is lack of knowledge of EDI, albeit most major retailers have used it with suppliers for over 30 years… maybe companies wrongly think it is likely to be expensive… could it be that the business people wrongly think it is an IT decision?

Given that the Retailers, who mandated it, also pushed for their suppliers to do it throughout the supply chain, right back to raw material suppliers, in order to push costs out of the supply chain and not just back to their direct supplier, it makes it even more baffling that, by now, 90% of the Supply chain should be doing it instead of perhaps 10%!  Where are these Retailers now in their train of thought?  Are the policy drivers still in the business, or have they been put out to graze perhaps?

But do companies, who have not adopted EDI with their suppliers, really believe that if they find that their competitors have it that they can play catchup in just five minutes?  Do they realise that they cannot sit still when technology is and has been knocking on their door?

In the early days of my selling career, back in the 70’s, some companies used to say they weren’t interested in computers BECAUSE they were manual… IMAGINE!  Are companies apparently doing the equivalent today by denying change and being happy with the status quo and thinking that manual intervention, with its inherent errors and inefficiencies, is really an acceptable way to do business today?  It is especially baffling considering the digital age in which we are living!

If this little rant hits any chords do contact me!…I am happy to receive any comments too, whatever they may be.  I promise I will respond to everyone.  Take a look here too and see if it rings any alarm bells… it’s a GS1 article about EDI with Suppliers and is worth reading and distributing internally   

Tony Engleman

Tony Engleman

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