Focus on HUBS – One of Three Types of EDI Customers

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A HUB is just one type of EDI customer. Hubs are characterized by high volume, lots of partners, high availability and high accuracy. The concept of the “Hub” is simple. These are the companies who reach out to their trading partners and request those partners to trade electronically.
Let’s characterize the three types of EDI customers:

(1) Hubs

(2) Spokes (low turnover of trading partners but higher technical requirements)

(3) Ecommerce Service Providers (ECSB) (a “hybrid” with high turnover rate, deal with all implementation guides, and amount to a “Hub of Spokes”).  An ECSP is what we previously called VAS (value added services) such as SPS Commerce.

EDI data has historically been exchanged between business partners through value-added network services (VANS), employing a simple hub-and-spoke model, the business partners being the spokes and the VAN operators assuming the central hub role. While being quite effective in the pre-Internet era, VANS are hardly competitive anymore. However, more recent approaches to the reliable exchange of EDI data like EDIINT AS/2 create new issues: While eliminating the VANS’s high volume costs, Internet-based point-to-point approaches like AS/2 dramatically increase the one-off setup costs by requiring all participants to assume server roles, not just a single dedicated hub. While acceptable for large companies, this is bad news for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).