According the the Oxford English Dictionary, a blockchain is a “system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network”. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).
It seems like Blockchain is all the rage. In my humble opinion it may be right for some companies but not all. Let’s talk about something that’s been around for a long time and is still extremely necessary for suppliers, distribution and manufacturing companies; Data Integration. There are many reasons for integrations. Let’s take brief look into this.
Why Integrate Software, Hardware or Databases?
Multiple Software Solutions perform specific functions but rely on the same data. Simply put, your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Software may do a lot, but it does not do everything. Therefore there are software publishers with specific packaged solutions that address certain business functions. For example, some EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) Solutions offer the exchange of important business data such as shipment, purchase order, sales order, or inventory information. You don’t want to have to manually enter this information into two software packages so typically EDI is commonly integrated into your ERP or WMS (Warehouse Management System).
Redundancy is Not Productive and Can Leave Room for Error
Another example is Shipping Software. All the major carriers either offer their own software or access to API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) for companies to integrate into. Once again, if you’re using a separate shipping system or worse multiple shipping systems, you will have to key in the same data multiple times. You will also experience a lag in your “data” as time may expire before you re-key data into your ERP System. So another reason for integration is the ability to view, analyze, and communicate real-time information such as a shipment tracking number, delivery date, product information, etc.
Automation Streamlines Your Operations
Automation is another important reason for integration. For instance there are many machines that provide important functions for companies. One example is a packaging machine. The purpose of this machine is to quickly take all the manual labor out of the packaging, filling, sealing, and shipment labeling processes. Now it would be silly to have a machine like this but have to manually key in all the order or shipment information right? That’s why data integration is important.
Supply Chain Management and Data are extremely important to your businesses profitability. By sharing accurate information in real-time you can communicate better with both your customers and suppliers.
Our company developed a WMS and Shipping Solution with many built in integrations. This includes multiple shipping carriers, several EDI software solutions, packaging machines, ERP Software, eCommerce Sites, Credit Card Processors, dimensioners, SalesTax Software and more. Our clients benefit from these built in integrations and our technical expertise. Many companies may have in-house developers that write programming interfaces. Either way, integration is and will always be an important.