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GM Changes EDI Standard

October 27, 1999

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General Motors has changed its EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) standard, which could create new demands on U.S. carriers doing business with GM.

GM has changed from X12, popular in North America, to EDIFACT, an international standard supported by the United Nations among others. Other suppliers and companies might follow suit. Carriers doing business with these companies may have to become EDIFACT compatible.
X12 is the name of Accredited Standards Committee that has developed and maintained North American EDI standards since 1979. EDIFACT stands for Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport, a standard that began in the European community and has since been endorsed by the International Organization for Standardization and nurtured by an trade arm of the U.N.
GM, with revenues of more than $161 billion in 1998, is the largest industrial corporation in the U.S. The impact of its decision could penetrate deeply through the automotive supply chain and the many carriers that support it.
Both X12 and EDIFACT are traditional EDI standards used by major corporations and their trading partners mostly over dedicated telephone lines and frequently through third-party service companies called VANS (Value-Added Networks). As of now neither takes particular advantage of the Internet, which is cultivating data interchange standards of its own based on languages such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and XML (Extensible Markup Language) widely used on the World Wide Web.

Smaller businesses, which comprise a large portion of the U.S. economy, have flocked to the Internet standards, which can be translated into traditional EDI through various means if necessary. While X12 and EDIFACT battle it out for world supremacy, use of Internet data exchange is growing exponentially right behind them.

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