Defining EDI p. 27

By: Dorothy Giobbe AS IMPLEMENTATION AND utilization of electronic data interchange gains ground in various areas of newspaper operations, indiscriminate and over usage of the term partially has obscured the definition and function of EDI and its role for newspapers.
A more accurate name for EDI is "electronic commerce," said David Lindsay, vice president at the Apalachicola (Fla.) Times.
Lindsay gave an "EDI Overview" at the recent Newspaper Association of America EDI/Prepress symposium in Orlando.
He said EDI is "one of those techno-speak terms . . . 'electronic commerce' raises thoughts of new ways of doing business . . . . "
Because new ways of conducting business require a new set of tools, both a solid technical base and grasp of organizational issues are needed for successful implementation of EDI. Lindsay said newspapers "seem to spend a good deal of time talking about tools and not much about organization."
To clarify EDI's role in the newspaper industry, Lindsay outlined functions that EDI can perform, or make possible, and those that aren't possible with EDI.
He said EDI is "a convention describing the identification and structure of transaction data exchanged between the computers of trading partners."
He added that EDI is by no means a "complete electronic commerce system."
Rather, "it is only one of several tools needed to make a functional system." EDI only covers the "containers for the data items its developers thought users might need to communicate."
EDI, Lindsay noted, is not a one order/one bill system.
"As a tool, [EDI] enables the automation which makes a system economic, but one order/one bill systems can and do exist without EDI," he said. The NAA one order/one bill system, for example, likely will use EDI but also can operate without it.
For successful models, newspapers should look to other industries, such as retail, grocery and transportation, all of which successfully have implemented EDI on a wide scale for ordering, sending paperwork, invoicing and payment, Lindsay said.
In the United States, the EDI standard is ANSI.12, governed by the Digital Interchange Standards Association. Most industries operate from a "subset" of that standard, Lindsay said.
For the newspaper industry, the NAA's EDI for Advertising Implementation Guide defines standards for the EDI transactions used in a basic advertising purchase, including a request for quotation (and a response), a purchase order, an insertion order (and a response), an invoice, and a remittance advice and payment order.
Among the many benefits of EDI, Lindsay said, are improved efficiency, accuracy, speed and simplicity.
EDI transactions result in lower make-goods or reruns, and EDI allows for a later deadline to sell more ads.
EDI also reduces overhead for advertisers, agencies and newspapers, and while publishers will want to add savings to the bottom line, Lindsay said, advertisers will argue that any savings should translate into lower ad rates.


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