APIs Rising: Understanding the Newest Integration Technology

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say the shipping ecosystem owes a huge debt of gratitude to EDI. Many decades after companies in numerous industries implemented it to enable electronic communications and change the way they did business, EDI is still alive and well.

But as APIs have ascended, I’ve seen them grow in popularity as the preferred means to integrate shippers and carriers. Why? The EDI approach positions middleware and transaction processing as a sort of middleman. That can take time and create inefficiencies in the supply chain.

In the shipping world, this has given rise to wider use of application programming interfaces (API) which allow tighter integration of shippers with carriers.

APIs allow for rapid onboarding of customers and their negotiated carrier rates into the Kuebix TMS. This can be done in the time it takes to book a flight online.

When it comes to connecting to ship, APIs eliminate the middleman, and create a direct connect that delivers critical information – such as tracking info on shipments – to both parties in the transaction. Better still, APIs are the easiest way to integrate functionality into transportation management systems (TMS).

Enter Integrations

Here’s where the payoff comes. TMS vendors such as Kuebix, have created a menu of integrations that can be added to the system to support added functionalities. Customers can add purchase order, bill of lading, and shipment status and tracking to streamline these processes.

And just like a diner-friendly restaurant, items not on the standard menu can be created or customized to the specific needs of the customer shipping freight.

TMS vendors can provide standard integrations that they have developed as well as integrations created by third parties, all so you can optimize supply chain management to meet the often-top corporate priority of cutting costs in the supply chain.

Once integrations have been added to a customer’s TMS, the time savings and streamlining can really begin. And it’s the beginning of the end for inefficiencies.

Integrations You Can Count On

Let’s take carrier invoice integration as an example. The shipper receives his or her invoices in the TMS for automatic invoice audit. If an invoice does not match the agreed upon rate for the shipment, the TMS will automatically create a rate exception claim. Sound great? It should, given that you can’t squeeze savings out of a process that you don’t directly control.

How about adding a purchase and sales order integration? Logistics managers can use their TMS to simplify the creation and tracking of true landed cost down to the SKU level and streamline shipping freight.

The hits will just keep coming in the form of additional integrations. Complex EDI, SOAP or REST integrations can be simplified with a standard or customer interface that seamlessly ties into an ERP system. That’s a big part of a supply chain management strategy.

What About EDI?

The rise of API integrations doesn’t mean an end to EDI integrations by any means. But those logistics managers looking to streamline and knock time out of common processes that are essential to their supply chain operations might want to check out the API approach and available integrations.

See how a carrier 210 integration works:

 

Enjoyed what you read? The next time Dan posts, you’ll get it first:

Overwhelmed by Data? Time to Tame the Information Overload and Use it to Your Advantage

If the amount of data flowing into, out of, and within the four walls of your company is out of control, you’re not alone. Organizations of all sizes are experiencing the impact of the Information Age, and even government agencies admit that they’re feeling overwhelmed by data fatigue right now.

The National Security Administration is no exception. The NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it’s no longer effective, says whistleblower, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

Credit that fact that the world’s data volumes have grown in astronomical leaps over the last few years with creating this level of data fatigue. And as the variety and velocity of data has grown, the usefulness of traditional data warehousing strategies has decreased exponentially.

It Keeps Going and Going and Going…

By 2025, research firm IDC believes the total amount of digital data created by the world will reach 180 zettabytes, up from 4.4 zettabytes in 2013. The astounding growth comes from both the number of devices generating data as well as the number of sensors in each device… approximately 11 billion devices connect to the Internet now. The figure is expected to nearly triple to 30 billion by 2020 and then nearly triple again to 80 billion five years later.

What many companies don’t realize is that with effective management of big data, this type of actionable information—and then using it to make informed transportation and logistics decisions—is readily available.

In fact, after accumulating terabytes of data over the years, most firms already have the foundational information right within their own four walls. The challenge lies in extracting this data, determining which of it is (and isn’t) useful, and then turning that information into actionable insights.

This is where good data management comes into play and allows companies to more efficiently and effectively orchestrate their global supply chains. The good news is that leading organizations have found ways to harness their data in creative, intelligent ways and, in return, have gained competitive advantage. They’re doing it by:

  • Connecting all of their business partners on a single, integrated, cloud-based platform. By connecting all of your business partners, suppliers, customers, and other entities via a single, cloud-based platform that’s accessible 24/7/365, all parties gain extreme efficiencies and improved data management capabilities.
  • Leveraging the data to improve global logistics planning. Look at how incoming data can be used to plan logistics movements (e.g., freight, ordering, carrier relationships, etc.), then consider how the data that’s in your central repository can make your firm more efficient using its current resources. This, in turn, leads to significant transportation and logistics efficiencies.
  • Gaining real-time supply chain visibility by breaking down information silos. By gaining real-time visibility over the information, and then sharing those insights with all stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, customers, carriers, accounting, logistics, warehousing, etc.), companies can effectively break down any traditional information “silos” that might exist within their supply chains.
  • Optimize internal processes using regular audits. Don’t just set it and forget it. Continually ask questions like, “Was there a better way we could have moved this freight?” or “Were there other, more cost-effective modes available?” The answers will help you find better ways to do things in the future.

For companies that want to break out of data fatigue mode and begin leveraging their valuable data, the best first step is to take inventory of current, available data and then decide how that information can be parlayed into actionable business intelligence. Then ask yourself what data—from a strategic perspective—will truly help your company achieve its current and future goals.

Kuebix offers a next generation transportation management system that acts as a central data repository for a company’s entire supply chain. To learn more about how Kuebix can help you better manager your company’s data as discussed in this article, contact us today at sales@kuebix.com