We are considering Business Connector to exchange invoices, orders and payments with partners. Do we still need EDI or could we bypass this technology completely using Web-based applications interacting with BC? And how do you see Business Connector merging into the new Exchange Infrastructure in the long run?
In a general sense, the answer to your question is: No! BC cannot emulate traditional EDI protocols and thus BC can replace EDI converters if and only if the partner accepts XML.
EDI is not a technology but a convention to electronically exchange documents between external partners. The SAP Business Connector (BC) will suffice if your external EDI partners are satisfied by receiving the data in plain XML format with reference to the DTD provided by the SAP Interface Repository (ifr.sap.com).
Usually in today's industry many companies have already adapted a fixed EDI standard e.g. ANSI/X.12, ODETTE, EDIFACT/UN or VDA. These companies will probably not accept EDI data send in BC-XML, because that would require them to adapt their internal processing routine. Especially in industries that vastly rely on EDI transmission like automotive, there is no realistic chance that they will be prepared to accept XML data within the next two or three years. If you are new to EDI and have to set up communication with established EDI partners, have a look at seeburger.de for converter tools.
This was first published in March 2003