July 16, 2013 | Written by: Arpit Tayal
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The tracking ability of shipping delivery systems is brilliant. They let you check the status of delivery of your shipment from the start to the end of the delivery. You can even view the proof of delivery or the signature of the recipient. This provides a great peace of mind.
When such a robust tracking system can be designed for tracking of physical files (shipments), why can’t we have it for digital files in the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) or business to business (B2B) scenarios?
I work for many customers in hosted environments on cloud. We have many different components in the cloud, like the translation engine, connectivity components from customer to translation engine and connectivity components from translation engine to the trading partners. Why can’t we give a single tracking number to the customers to track their data?
We have to track the file on different components separately, using a different tracking number on the translation engine, using different reference numbers on the connectivity platforms such as VAN or OFTP. Very often we have to involve multiple teams like VAN and a communication team to get the information. Ideally, we could make these components talk to each other and have a single tracking number that a system can pass on to another system.
When customers ask about a file, we have to trace the file separately on each component. As a customer, I’m not interested in the internal tracking of data. All I would want is the overall view of the file delivery. They want to track and make sure the data is delivered and perhaps have proof of that delivery.
Customers often have to wait for a long time for support team to get involved and help them in tracking data. They find it very frustrating when they sometimes have to wait an entire day to know the status of a file. By the time they trace the file or data it sometimes loses its whole purpose like ASN (Advance Shipment Notice).
However efficient and great our hosted system may be, it is not efficient for customers if they cannot track their files efficiently. The cloud may have endless capacity, but tracking, searching and retrieval are the key elements. I understand that it may not be practical for all the data to be traceable that quickly but in my opinion it should not be very tough to trace a day-old file end to end.
In the utopian EDI world, I would like to see the progress of my file with just a single tracking number. If such a system is designed it will be really helpful to customers and save lot of time for support teams. Customers then can directly liaise with their trading partner without the intervention from support. It would be a real win-win scenario for clients and support teams to offer a self-service module where they can track their documents end-to-end.