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Mobile EDI solutions are in the nascent stage and have potential to become a key instrument in the prevalent usage of Electronic Data Interchange in full power. Mobile EDI can be picturized as an era that is emerging and constantly developing to enable a successful exchange of EDI documents via mobile devices. There had been arguments and discussions on the fact that whether or not a user would like to use his/her mobile device for completion of a purchase order or invoice while not being physically present at office. The limitations of the mobile devices like the quality and size of the screen are overcome with iPad and tablet computers and these devices are changing the way users interact within their organization and across a business.

Considering the fact that EDI is still a mandated compliance factor for many industries and with the steady development of EDI as a standard, the need for comfortable control instruments has become mandatory and urgent. It has now become accepted that there are corporate “apps” and it is just a matter of time before users would be able to download a supply chain or any EDI-related app from a corporate or private app store. 

EDI, without any doubt, is still seen as the foundation of B2B e-commerce. So it is very obvious that a combination of EDI and mobile devices would be a winning solution that many companies would definitely look forward to embrace. The moment key business documents fall in exchange process via EDI, the new mobile applications get built for more improvement in process productivity. Common use cases where Mobile EDI adds value to the entire process are mentioned below.

  1. In one scenario we can see a retailer indulged in leveraging tablets in its warehouse for enhancement in efficiency of warehouse personnel in dealing with documentation and tracking of damaged shipments received, shipments having imprecise ASNs and not matching with their purchase orders, and the creation of deductions that should be applied to subsequent invoices as a result of those errors. 
  2. Delivery personnel can scan an item’s barcode to a mobile device for the creation of an electronic invoice. The data is transmitted via EDI and the receiver opens the invoice in the receiving system and gets the delivered goods scanned after verifying quantities. After resolving the data, the digital invoice is closed and a settled copy is sent to the supplier system using his/her mobile device.

Transaction status inquiries

For business people who are on the move or not physically present in the office require updates on transaction status like:

  1. Buyers who receive a call from his supplier for enquiring about any missing payment can use tablet or smartphone to access a portal and decide if and or when a remittance advice has been directed.
  2. The sales executive who is traveling would need the latest transaction status of product delivery to a customer. He/ She can do it using the smartphone or tablet just by signing in and getting a solution of the query at any convenient time instead of following the old way of calling the office to check the status.

Real-time event notifications

Employees who receive text messages or emails on either smartphones or tablets can react proactively to the ever-changing business scenario not depending anymore on their physical location. This ultimately helps in reduction of bottleneck processing, stability maintenance and also the growth of the customer satisfaction graph resulting in revenue safeguarding and growth.

Visibility to analytics

Using tablet or smartphone, both buyers and suppliers who are engaged in the new contract negotiation process, are able to access a portal for displaying a dashboard showing buyer’s payment details or supplier’s on-time delivery performance over the last year. The metrics of the same are based on factors like order and invoices exchanged and ASNs. 

Mobile EDI enables round the clock information on all EDI activity that takes places between a company and its trading partners. Shipping documents, electronic transactions for invoicing, purchase orders and other documents can be viewed as soon as they arrive, directly on mobile devices. This visibility adds value to executives like CFOs wanting to have real-time information on invoice related information, CEOs monitoring the business activity of their companies or CIOs who want updates about the timely functioning of their companies. Also, warehouse and logistics managers would be facilitated as they would be able to track the movement of their urgent consignments and henceforth planning of their inventory, reordering and follow-ups becomes quite easy. 

To summarize, we are past the period when we had doubts of controlling entire supply process on the move. With more mobile devices on the market with enough screen space and compact take-with-you nature, companies are investing to develop their own corporate mobile apps allowing trading partners to facilitate easy transaction processing. Mobile EDI implementations are proving to reduce the time for business documents exchange from 1 hr to 15 mins thereby accelerating supply process and make them more effective.  

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