Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can be formally defined as 'The transfer of structureddata, by agreed message standards, from one computer system to another without humanintervention'. It is simply a set of data definitions that permit business forms that wouldhave been exchanged using paper in the past, to be exchanged electronically. This hasresulted, in some cases, in the establishment of an EDI environment, which arguablyrepresents the most advanced state of electronic commerce today. As such, EDI providesan excellent example of a working electronic commerce environment and is a goodstarting point for examining electronic commerce. Since transfer of data takes placebetween different companies using networks, such as VANs or the Internet, with theincreasing number of more and more companies get connected to the Internet, EDI isbecoming increasingly important as an easy mechanism for companies to buy, sell, andtrade information.
History of EDI
The early applications of EDI were undertaken in the United States, being traceable back to the 1948 Berlin Airlift, where the task of co-ordinating air freighted consignments of food and consumables (which arrived with differing manifests, languages and numbers of copies) was addressed by devising a standard manifest. Electronic transmissioncommenced during the 1960s, initially in the rail and road transport industries. Thestandardization of documents was a necessary concomitant to that change. In 1968 theUnited States Transportation Data Coordinating Committee (TDCC) was formed, tocoordinate the development of translation rules among four existing sets of industry-specific standards. A further significant move towards standardization came with the X12standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which graduallyextended and replaced those created by the TDCC.At about the same time, the U.K. Department of Customs and Excise, with the assistanceof SITPRO (the British Simplification of Trade Procedures Board), was developing itsown standards for documents used in international trade, called Tradacoms. These were