Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
Electronic data interchange (EDI) can be defined as the electronic exchange of data in highly specified formats that takes place typically between organizations. Some of the different types of transactions that can be done
through EDl include (a) requests for quotations, (b) purchase orders. (c) acknowledgments and confirmations, (d) invoicing, and (e) payments.
While the use of EDI is very fast and efficient. it does have several shortcomings. First, companies must painstakingly link their operations to a specific ED! software and then Synchronize protocols (such as which version of the software they use) with the firms with which they want to conduct business. The format for EDI i. very inflexible and often does not adapt well to new applications. In addition, EDl moves data in belch mode and. con frequently, there i a lime delay from \\ hen the data are sent to when they are actually received Organizations also can use the Internet to reduce labor costs. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is now online, which allows motorists with speeding tickets to pay their fines over the Internet without having to appear in person, which was the previous'
norm. Increased use of the Internet in this manner also will reduce long lines at Registry locations and hopefully reduce its annual operating expenses.' A note of caution is necessary, however, when contemplating the introduction of totally automated services. First. as we have noted already, there are some segments of the market that are not totally comfortable with using automation. In addition, while automation can usually do a good job performing routine transactions, there are often complex and highly customized transactions that can be resolved only with the customer interacting directly with a knowledgeable employee.
Technology in the form of automation also can be used in service operations to perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks. The use of technology in this manner cannot only increase worker productivity, but also reduce or eliminate errors. At the same time, it ensures the delivery of a more consistent product to the customer. In some instances, technology
also can increase performance in the form of faster service. For example, in many fast-food restaurants, the timed drink dispensers do not require
servers to stand by the beverage machine holding the button. Instead, a quick push of the button begins the flow of a specific amount of beverage, permitting the server to assemble the rest of the order while the drink is being poured. Other examples of technology being used in fast-food operations include a conveyor belt broiler at Burger King restaurants that
ensures a consistently cooked hamburger, again without the worker being continuously present during the cooking operation, and deep fat fryers with timers that automatically lift the french fries out of the oil when they have finished cooking. Technology in the form of computerized order-entry devices allows waiters and waitresses to place orders in the kitchen without having to walk across the restaurant. Instead of having to make two trips to the kitchen-one to place the order and another to pick it up when it has been cooked-waitstaff are now only required to make a single trip to pick up
the food when it is ready.