EDI CONSIDERED POSSIBLE PATH TO WORLD PEACE

EDI CONSIDERED POSSIBLE PATH TO WORLD PEACE

Electronic communications could bring world peace, Jack Shaw, president, EDI Strategies Inc., Marietta, Ga., said.

Mr. Shaw was a keynote speaker at the American National Standards Institute's X12 group's technical here last week. His hope: that money will speak louder than guns.Electronic data interchange was the specific tool he was refering to. Global introduction of EDI to international trade will make international trade more profitable, he said.

Profits are only part of the picture, he said. Use of EDI gives companies intimate knowledge of each other's operations. High-tech distribution systems leave little room for error.

Comfortable cushions of inventory are stripped away. EDI brings companies closer together, he said. It makes all companies more interdependent, he said.

An attitude of cooperation is crucial to achieving success with EDI, Mr. Shaw said. Most of the people directly involved with the technology have this attitude, he claimed. The job is to communicate it to their bosses.

Success of EDI implementation is directly proportional to the level of management backing in that organization, Mr. Shaw said.

Lack of knowledge of the true potential of EDI by management is the greatest enemy of the technology, he said.

EDI is not a technical issue. It is a business issue, he said. EDI is too important to leave to the data processing department, he said.

Companies that underestimate the impact of EDI will not be able to use the technology efficiently, Mr. Shaw claimed. Basic business strategies and behavior at all levels, from manufacturing to marketing to accounting, must be changed, he said.

Those who do not understand this will be left in the backwaters of industry, he warned. Gaining as much knowledge as quickly as possible is crucial, he said.

This is the most important business management conference taking place this year, he said.

Even those involved in EDI itself underestimate the importance of the technology, Mr. Shaw claimed. He pointed to the name of the conference and the jargon of the industry as examples.

Officially, the title of the meeting was the American National Standards Institute's Accredited Standards Committee X12 Group's Seminar and Technical Exhibit.

Future events should be less of a mouthful, he said, commenting, let's not intimidate managers with an excess of high-tech verbiage.

Conferences aren't the only places where EDI's jargon understates its reality, Mr. Shaw said. Computer programs that change EDI messages from one standard format to another are called translation software.

Let's eliminate the phrase translation software from our vocabulary, Mr. Shaw said. Such computer programs should be called EDI management systems, he said.

History describes a pattern EDI may follow, he said. Five years ago computers were a business curiousity. Now 70 percent of businesses use personal computers, he said. That number will rise to 90 percent by 1990, he said.

Reflecting that reality, growth projections for EDI are all too low, he said.

At least 70 percent of all business in the United States will make significant use of EDI by 1993, he said.

They'll only be part of the picture, however. In five years we will have a single, worldwide EDI network, using a single, worldwide EDI standard: EDI For Administration, Commerce and Trade (EDIFACT).