An emerging area for EDI is within mobile communications. However, EDI applications were not designed with the mobile user in mind.
There have been questions about whether a user would want to use a mobile device for completing a purchase order or invoice while out of the office. However, focusing on supply chain efficiencies, it is easier to see the benefits of a sales person being able to see the status of a delivery to a supplier while on the road or a business manager being able to review supplier performance while in a re-negotiation meeting.
The result is that these types of Mobile EDI applications are beginning to appear. The limitations of the mobile devices themselves have hampered development. The quality and size of the screen for most devices has been relatively poor. However, the advent of the iPad and other tablet computers is altering what can be achieved with mobile computing devices.
It is not an overstatement to say that these devices are changing the way users interact with their organisations and some companies are starting to launch applications to help ‘mobilise’ their supply chains. It has now become accepted that there are corporate ‘apps’ and it is only a matter of time before you can download a supply chain or EDI-related app from a private or corporate app store.
Recently, the Retail sector has seen the adoption of Direct Exchange (DEX) to help the flow of products and information through the supply chain. Using DEX, delivery personnel can scan the barcode of an item into a mobile device to create an electronic invoice. This data is transmitted to the receiver via an in-store docking station. The receiver opens the invoice in the receiving system and scans the delivered goods to verify quantities. After the data is reconciled, the digital invoice is closed and a finalised copy is transmitted back to the supplier system via his mobile device. One US retailer has been able to reduce the duration of each store delivery by 15 to 45 minutes using DEX.
We will continue to add information about the developments in Mobile EDI to this site as they happen.