Do APIs Truly Measure Up to EDI?


The newest way to integrate systems, the Application Programming Interface or API, has a lot going for it indeed. But how does it measure up against the proven efficiency of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)?

Depending on the needs of your business, using EDI may actually be more beneficial when it comes to B2B communication than the API.

As global business continues to develop and enter into the Cloud era, communications systems are also evolving. The API was developed to support system connectivity and program interaction in the new Cloud era.

Architected to keep up with market speeds and today’s continuously changing interface requirements, the API has garnered quite a buzz. But while APIs may appear to offer the same support for B2B integration, they unfortunately still fall a bit short when it comes to EDI led partner connections and integration capabilities.

Why exactly can’t APIs deliver all of the B2B benefits of EDI? For a few reasons:

  • Mainly due to the fact that APIs are more static than EDIs and require developers or consultants to make changes. With APIs tending to be built to spec from implementation, this means a break in functionality is much more common when attempting to change any communication pathways between two given organizations. Modifying APIs can become costly and time consuming.
  • The API is also insufficient in its ability to quickly and efficiently onboard, scale and govern your business’s trading partner networks in comparison to EDI. With so much custom development an API-led infrastructure becomes difficult to maintain for B2B processes with large volumes of trading partners.
  • Because APIs are less compatible with legacy systems than other B2B technologies, it is very unlikely that a business could operate with APIs alone. When an EDI needs to be used for communication purposes anyways the API is made redundant.
  • Security also becomes a concern when one or more APIs are implemented. Every new API makes your organization that much more vulnerable to data breaches or attacks. One EDI can be much more easily secured.

But APIs are still delivering Cloud innovations that EDIs cannot, yet.

For now it seems the only solution to the EDI or API dilemma is to work on a system that can incorporate the best of both worlds.

It’s the business processes and orchestrations that enable companies to exchange EDI documents with partners in a well-governed, secured, and managed way that are extremely valuable. The nature of EDI and APIs technologies means that one likely won’t replace the other anytime soon.

They can however work in tandem to facilitate a better business experience until EDI becomes more Cloud-era friendly. By continuing to enhance solutions that are already handling the heavy lifting of B2B and EDI into more Cloud integrated and big data focused entities, EDI will continue to be a leader in B2B communications.