History of EDI
Many states have mandated that energy companies use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) technology to send and receive information from transmission and distribution providers, but it took many years to get to this point. Edward A. Guilbert, the father of EDI, began working on the problem during the 1948 Berlin airlift, when he expanded upon the idea of using standardized shipping manifests. The first EDI messages were sent in 1965 when the Holland-American steamship line sent trans-Atlantic shipping manifests using telex machines. By 1968, the Transportation Data Coordinating Committee (TDCC) was formed by a group of railroad companies to standardize messaging. Unfortunately, the committee failed to follow a consistent format, creating confusion and causing problems. To address this oversight, the TDCC released the first formal EDI standards, of which Guilbert was a major contributor in 1975. The point of this history is that in 2019, EDI has been around for at least 45 years and arguably 70 years.
EDI Integration for Energy Companies
Some of our customers are leveraging Jitterbit to enhance their legacy EDI connectivity. Other Jitterbit customers have abandoned the traditional approach to EDI entirely. One of those companies was Bounce Energy. In the state of Texas, ERCOT, the agency that oversees the electricity marketplace requires EDI for all transacted data. When Bounce Energy was founded, it wanted to avoid any situation in which they had to maintain custom-built integration processes. Large amounts of data are processed through Jitterbit daily, exchanging information such as new customer transfers, meter readings, and usage for current accounts, and automated service connections and disconnections. In 2013, Direct Energy acquired Bounce Energy for $46 million.
Read how Bounce Energy powered growth through EDI order and fulfillment automation.
Another of our utility customers, Apergy Corporation, a spinoff of Dover Corporation, uses Jitterbit to streamline communications in the oil and gas industry. In this business customers don’t come to you, you go to customers. Field service agents load their trucks with parts and go on what’s called a “milk run” to visit customers and evaluate their equipment needs. Until recently, Apergy field service agents were doing manual data entry for the orders they got on these milk runs. They would load up their trucks with parts, visit the customer to determine what was needed, then come back and fill out paper order forms to record the transactions.
The paper process meant that the sales cycle could take weeks to complete between the order and fulfillment. It also sometimes introduced errors, meaning that customers occasionally got the wrong parts. To help the sales process move faster and improve data accuracy, Apergy decided to move to an electronic field service order system. One Jitterbit integration reads data from QuickBase and pushes it into Oracle EBS. Another extracts data from Oracle and posts it as XML to Apergy’s EDI partners.
How Jitterbit Makes EDI Processes Easier in the Energy Industry
What our customers found was that manual paper-based systems are slow and error-prone. In some cases, not having them created a compliance issue. Digitizing field service operations using proven technology like EDI has many advantages. Streamlining the EDI process using Jitterbit as the central platform has further benefits:
- It is easier to work with than technology first developed in the sixties,
- Offers the flexibility to add new partners outside the company who might not use the same custom EDI software,
- Trading partners can be added and removed in minutes, not days or weeks.
The bottom line is, our customers have been able to accelerate payments so that their business can receive cash sooner and recognize revenue faster. This helped one of our customers become an attractive acquisition candidate, and the other a billion dollar spin off.