Business users should be able to easily and quickly define, track, and manage all aspects of customer data. But with rapid data growth and complexity, that’s easier said than done. Because organizations not only need to integrate and manage data (with different protocols, formats, and standards) within few firewalls but also handle multi-enterprise data integration, the difficulty in handling complex data streams of customers dramatically increases further. These problems related to data management can be resolved using a customer data exchange solution. It presents spectacular possibilities to automate collaborative exchange processes with customers and providers, foster internal capabilities, and expand at lower costs.
It involves the exchange of data gathered from customers among multiple operational processes along with their applications, whether in one enterprise or across majority ones. A common example would be manufacturing firms and supplier ecosystems and distributors around it.
In other words, data exchange processes involve taking data from a specific data system and restructure it into another system. Ergo, the target data actually becomes a precise representation of the source data, driving successful collaboration between myriad systems. It enables enterprises share data across a network of customers and partners, allowing users rapidly tackle the challenges related to data management.
Further, it influences a lot of aspects as in universal data transformations supporting myriad formats, documents and files that have benefited in reducing operational costs with comprehensive data transformation. Additionally, it plays a central role in supporting large data transaction by scalable data integration and ensuring compliance with the data format standards.
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The techniques employed in customer data exchange processes have evolved over the years. For better understanding, it’s important for you to know the history of customer data exchange and how it has been impacting business today.
Prior to exchanging data electronically, companies traded paper documents and the keen eye of business owners to garner, process, and deliver customer orders. There were many shortcomings of that process, which may seem absolutely trivial today. Initially, EDI helped companies exchange data electronically. Surely, it had the potential to bring a revolution in the world of customer data exchange and customer data integration. However, with more and more standards coming into the picture, relying on EDI to drive data exchange didn’t reap a lot of benefits.
Over the past ten years, APIs started making headway as an alternative to EDI. Unlike EDI, API, or application programming interface, delivers greater agility and customization without as much lock-in to figuring out how to make the EDI standards accommodate more modern business data exchanges.
However, while employing APIs, companies cannot get rid of the technical debt due to the presence of API versioning that is often very specific to one trading relationship and more encompassing than just data formatting.
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Each of these techniques has their set of drawbacks. EDI becomes complex with growing standards and specifications, which, in turn, makes organizations difficult to do business with. Not to mention, companies need high-skilled IT professionals to manage and grow the EDI support system. This was a barrier to scale and digital transformation. API-based mechanisms involve technical debt as companies embody critical B2B information exchange into literal computer source code inclusive of access methods, security, workflows, data format mitigation, and so on.
Unfortunately, neither EDI nor APIs offers an effective way of customer data exchange.
Self-service data integration solution shines here. Not only has it allowed companies to handle diverse data, with different formats and protocols without compromising agility or collaboration but it has also enabled business users execute the process and manage the technical debt.
Gain a deeper understanding of how these solutions can prove to be a better solution than EDI and API and help companies streamline customer data exchange processes with ease and precision.