Supply chain topics around latest gen tech have been plentiful during the past several years, many of which are related to blockchain technology use cases in trade services. We recently covered this as well in a Viewpoint released in April. The article from TechCrunch referenced here is about a new funding round for a 2016 startup called Orderful, based in San Francisco.
While we are aware of EDI as a ubiquitous means for direct document exchange with business partners, the solution set in this case provides a cloud service with API enablement that creates EDI as a service. Not having communicated with the principals involved, reading the piece would describe something that resembles an EDI ‘hub’ and de-facto network for the ease of communication with all expected participants in a trading network.
‘To understand the problem that Orderful is trying to fix, a little rundown on how supply chain management works today is helpful. In the old, pre-computer days, all information exchange happened by way of phone, fax, post, and documents that often were delivered along with goods, which all required manual assessment and recording….The rise of computers and the internet did push that system into the digital world, but only just: electronic data interchange (EDI), as this general area is known, is a loosely organised set of technical standards to use computers to communicate this data between businesses to enable purchases, make accounting reconciliations, and transfer shipping details. It’s a business that has boomed with the growth of globalization and companies trading with each other at an increasing pace.’
The article goes on the describe some of the EDI pain points that Orderful can resolve, which are numerous. One can even find a link to an ‘EDI basics’ site, and if one has more ambition, can then go to the company website and retrieve a white paper that describes eight separate pain points in a typical EDI development effort.
These include things like gathering requirements and mapping data, due to the numerous standards in an EDI exchange. The article indicates that the company believes they have no direct competitor. We know there are numerous EDI translation and various integration firms out there, but in any event, they have an interesting approach. With VC wanting to invest, there is likely some broader avenue to revenue, but we’ll keep in touch with developments.
“I don’t think companies not doing business with Amazon will be inclined to use its platform for trading,” Kiser said. “But they do have a lot of information about their network.”…Indeed, he pointed out that it’s been said there are some 30 economists at the company looking at its B2B supply chain data, and considering how it can be parsed for example to predict inflation. “They are already using the data. With Orderful we have the opportunity to be the most influential software company if we can be the plumbing that connects companies. There are a ton of services that we can add on the platform and that’s where we are going even if right now we are focused on the plumbing and simply making it easy to trade data.”
Overview by Steve Murphy, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group