Blockchain, edi, immutability

Data Masons is pleased to present our blog series on Blockchain and EDI. Blockchain is quickly becoming less of a buzzword and more of an inevitability in the B2B world as more companies utilize it in their business practices, including in EDI processes. In this post, we'll discuss immutability in Blockchain, and what impact that feature will have on EDI.

With Blockchain, immutability is basically the concept that once data is entered as a block onto the chain, it cannot be changed or altered. In simplest terms, that means no more data fixing. But that doesn’t mean that errors won’t occur. 

Crash Course: What Exactly Makes the Data Unchangeable?

When we say the data is “unchangeable,” it doesn’t mean that the data is set in stone and sealed, but rather, there is no way to change the data without it being shutterstock_715107325_blockchainlocksnoticed and having a significant impact on the entire chain.

The unchangeable nature of the Block is due to a function called hashes. Hashes are mathematical functions which turn the data into an output of characters which represents the data on the Block. The hash acts as the fingerprint for the data, and blocks are ordered according to the previous block’s hash. If a hash has been altered, it will break the chain and be easily discovered. If there is an error in the data entered, in order to preserve the integrity of the chain, the user will need to create a new block with the corrected data, rather than changing the already-entered information.

 

EDI, Business Transactions, and the Error-Prone Nature of the “Throw it Over the Wall” Approach

One big reason this will have a significant impact on the EDI world in general, is that by their nature, business transactions between companies and trading partners are prone to frustrations and errors.

Historically, business transactions which are now covered by EDI, such as purchase orders, invoices, and payments, were exchanged by mail, fax, phone, and computer. In these exchanges, documents were registered in ledgers and replicated in many different forms of storage- from file cabinets to digital media. Each party had their own copies of the transactions.

Think of this model as “throwing it over the wall,” because there’s no immediate feedback when transactions with errors are tendered. This is still the typical manner by which business is conducted today, and there are inherent challenges. If you’ve ever encountered disagreements between transactions, you know it’s a time-consuming headache to fix. For example, if you show an invoice as paid, but your trading partner claims it’s still open, you’ll need to do research, revision, and reconciliation, to name just a few steps.

But why do these errors occur in the first place? Why are transactions between trading partners more prone to them? If you’re working with EDI or your company’s business transactions, you probably already know the answer. Every trading partner has their own requirements, and the more humans are involved in these transactions, the more likely there are to be mistakes. EDI helps, but advances in technology, if they’re leveraged by EDI solutions, will eliminate some of the remaining pains.

If an EDI system utilizes Blockchain, “throwing it over the wall” will not only no longer be an option; it will be obsolete. With Smart Contracts, transactions will be automatically validated before they’re entered. There will be a clear ledger of the transaction that has been approved by multiple nodes, and which shows the history of every step in the transaction and business relationship.

 

Get Prepared for Blockchain

Blockchain technology is poised to make a large impact on how companies integrate their business interactions today via EDI and API’s. To learn more about how you can make sure your EDI system is ready for the challenges of Blockchain, download our brief or read the other posts in our series on Blockchain and EDI.

Download the Blockchain for EDI Brief

Also in This Series:

Blockchain for EDI: How Secure is It?

Blockchain, edi, security

Data Masons is pleased to present our blog series on Blockchain and EDI. Blockchain is quickly becoming less of a buzzword and more of an inevitability in the B2B world as more companies utilize it in their business practices, including in EDI processes. We're starting our series by addressing the most important question that accompanies any new technology. How secure is it? Sometimes it seems like technological advances face a constant battle between ease of use and security.

While no technology can be completely risk-free, Blockchain does have some advantages due to the way information is added and stored, and security protocols which are unique to Blockchain. Read on to learn more about how security works, and what it means for you as an EDI user.

 

What, Exactly, is on that Chain?

Whenever a transaction is processed using Blockchain (also known as “the Block), it is added to a limitless chain of linked transactions, or blocks. This distributes a copy of the chain and transaction throughout the Blockchain network, which results in a decentralized, distributed ledger.handshakeblockchain

 

The Security of Immutability

The blocks in the chain are immutable, which means that they can’t be modified once they’re added. If changes need to be made, this requires a separate correcting transaction, rather than a change to the transaction itself.

Even though shifting from correcting ledgers to creating new ledgers for corrections could be a pain, it has a couple of advantages. First, it will force companies to adjust their business practices to minimize the chance of mistakes and the need for corrective transactions. Second, it makes it extremely difficult for the data to be attacked because of security protocols such as Proof of Work.

 

Smart Contracts to the Rescue

But the need for corrections will be minimized, thanks to Smart Contracts. We'll cover them more in depth in a future blog post, but simply put, Smart Contracts will do the work to make sure that each transaction is correct BEFORE it takes place, without the need for human intervention. Today’s method often relies on validation from disparate and disconnected systems, but a Smart Contract provides another type of security for Blockchain users: assurance that transactions are correct before and after they take place.

We'll also go over immutability in the future, including, why exactly a block is unchangeable, but here’s what it means in terms of security: if a hacker or other malicious party wants to alter any data on the Block, it would mean altering the entire chain, and they would not be able to achieve a consensus. The definition of consensus in terms of a Blockchain principle is outlined in further detail in Blockgeek’s awesome post, but suffice it to say, it’s a necessity of any Blockchain transaction, and makes Blockchain a much more secure way of doing business than today’s standards.

 

Is Your EDI System Ready?

The bottom line, though, is that the Block is only as secure as the software interacting with it. It’s an exciting buzzword and you want to make sure that your EDI system is not only eager to use it, but prepared to keep it secure and give you the peace of mind that you need. Download our brief or read the upcoming posts in our Blockchain and EDI series to learn more about how to evaluate your EDI system for this emerging innovation.

Download the Blockchain for EDI Brief

Webinars, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics

EDI has the potential to optimize business processes beyond just orders, invoices and ASNs. Depending on the type of EDI solution, an organization can enjoy a range of benefits by automating processes related to their customers, suppliers, 3PLs, carriers and other key business partners. 
We invite you to join us on July 18, 10am AEST (July 17, 8pm US ET), in conjunction with MSDynamicsWorld.com, as we review the different business processes that can be automated and cover the benefits of an EDI solution including management by exception processing. The webinar will finish with a quick demonstration Vantage Point EDI, a fully Certified EDI solution for Dynamics.
Don't think you'll be able to make it? Register and you will be sent a link to the on-demand recording to view at your convenience.
Register for the "Deploying EDI  with Dynamics ERP" Webinar

 

Dynamics GP, Dynamics 365, dynamics ax, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018, Dynamics 365 BC, Webinars, AXUG, D365UG

We've had a few weeks of EDI for Dynamics educational and product webinars on the calendars! You can now watch the on-demand webinars to learn EDI best practices, ERP - specific information and Vantage Point EDI product demos. 

Watch the Dynamics GP Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines with these sponsors:

  • Data Masons (EDI)
  • Dynamic Budgets (Budgeting)
  • ImageTag (AP Automation)
  • MineralTree (AP Automation)

Watch the MSDW GP Partner Showcase here.

Watch the Dynamics 365/AX Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines with these sponsors: 

  • Data Masons (EDI)
  • eBridge Connections (EDI and E-commerce)
  • K-ecommerce (E-commerce)
  • Metafile (Paperless Automation)
  • PowerObjects (multiple AX/365 add-ons)

Watch the MSDW D365/AX Partner Showcase here.

EDI Integration Best Practices for Dynamics 365/AX - Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations customers have options when it comes to selecting and deploying EDI or XML integration solutions. But the effort can be riddled with avoidable errors. Understand the right questions to ask to make sure you're heading down the right integration path for your company. Watch the On-Demand webinar for EMEA D365/AX here.

Build vs Buy – What’s your EDI strategy for D365 - Many organizations have built their own EDI solution by modifying their ERP system to import and export data from/to Translators and ETL solutions. If your company is now moving to Dynamics 365 for Operations or Business Central, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of leveraging tools such as Logic Apps and Boomi to tackle the unique challenges of integrated EDI with D365.

In this session you will learn the effort required to create EDI capabilities in D365 and how those embedded changes can pose obstacles to future platform updates. The session will include a presentation of a cloud based EDI platform that delivers broad and deep integration to D365 without embedded customizations. Watch the On-Demand "Build vs Buy" webinar here.

Watch the Dynamics NAV/365 Business Central Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines. Watch the On-Demand NAV Partner Showcase webinar here.

June 27, 2018 @11am ET:  
Join AXUG/D365UG and Data Masons as we share EDI Made Simple for D365/AX: Integration Without Customization. Dynamics 365/AX customers have options when it comes to EDI or XML integration solutions, but without the right preparation and expertise, the effort can be expensive and complicated.

Knowing the right questions to ask and best practices of successful implementations can help you decide on the right integration path for your company. Register for the EDI Made Simple for D365/AX webinar here.

Summit EMEA, certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365, dynamics 365 for operations, Dynamics AX EDI, dynamics ax

On the 24-26 April, over 1,300 people attended the annual Dynamics Communities user summit in Dublin, Ireland.

This was the first time the Microsoft Dynamics AX, D365, and CRM user community came together to network and partake in over 260 keynotes and sessions. Data Masons was a silver sponsor at the event with a stand and presented 2 sessions. (You can watch on-demand versions of the sessions here.)

The keynote sessions emphasized how Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM software accelerates digital transformation.  Several customer examples were provided, and the recent spring release of D365 is full of new features and functionality to enrich the transformation journey.  Microsoft announced that major software releases will occur in the spring of every year, followed by a minor release in the summer. A very popular demo was Power Apps, which allows companies to develop custom apps for mobile devices without any software development.

We really appreciate the ‘no software development’ statement because it’s what we do for EDI. This message seemed to resonate very well with nearly over 100 visitors to our sessions and sponsor stand at the event.

In our conversations, we learned about companies putting a lot of time and energy into planning, and execution of the AX to D365 migration. These companies are also aware that they need to rebuild the EDI interfaces because the solution used with AX will not work with D365. This is because Microsoft changed the interface to get data in and out of D365, and the ability to develop EDI functions in D365 are slim to none.

Companies from retail, chemical, food and agriculture, and various types of manufacturing were enquiring about a simpler and fast approach to EDI.  A great majority of the conversations were in the automotive sector that require planning and forecasting, and other logic that is not standard in AX or D365.  For example, a DELFOR planning forecast could be arrive daily, and from this forecast you need to decide what to ship, update the internal materials plan, and ensure the quantities shipped on either end is the same.  We also learned that Audi is asking companies to replace VD4905 to VDA4984 by the end of 2018.

It was a great experience to meet with so many like-minded people, and share with them our EDI Made Simple approach.  We’re looking forward to ongoing conversations with our new community contacts, and we hope that Irish Luck continues for the community with successful ERP and EDI implementations.

Finally, we’d like to invite the D365/AX community to join us for a live webinar held with MSDynamicsWorld.com on EDI Integration Best Practices for Dynamics 365/AX on 5 June, 2018 at 12:30 GMT/14:30 CET.  Register here.

certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365, Certified EDI for AppSource, Dynamics 365, Dynamics AX 2012, Microsoft Dynamics Community

If you're considering a move to Dynamics 365 for Operations, are you prepared for the impact on your EDI integration strategy? 

Most organizations that process EDI in Dynamics AX utilize embedded code to handle EDI. Changes like the elimination of the AIF and the introduction of the public cloud option will raise critical new challenges for Dynamics 365 customers.

Watch this on-demand webcast, hosted by MSDynamicsWorld.com, as the experts at Data Masons share experiences successfully integrating EDI data into Dynamics 365 for Operations while streamlining related processes. Companies that do not yet have integrated EDI for Dynamics AX but are considering it for Dynamics 365 can also learn about best practices that have improved other companies’ deployments.

Glenn McPeak, Principal at Data Masons, discussed:

    • The expanded integration opportunities introduced in the Dynamics 365 for Operations platform can improve efficiency and open up new integration opportunities.
    • How the Dynamics 365 cloud-based, entity driven integration model perfectly fits the Data Masons integration framework.
    • How to manage the upgrade process including planning and budgeting for Dynamics AX Users running Vantage Point EDI.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar  "Upgrading from Dynamics AX to D365"  

Blockchain, edi and ecommerce, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Expert Insights, EDI Articles

Blockchain technology is poised to have a revolutionary impact on the way we transact business, particularly the exchange of business document transactions commonly referred to as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

Traditional accounts receivable processes result in vendors and customers having their own set of truths about the transactions that occurred. Reconciling those transactions from two independent ledgers does not always lead both parties to the same conclusion.

This is where blockchain technology, also referred to as "the block," comes in. Mistakes, misunderstandings and other problems that commonly require weeks and months to unwind are detected during the insertion of the transaction into the Block. Sounds great, doesn't it?

There are nuances to the technology but understanding its strengths, weaknesses and interoperability with EDI and ERP solutions is key.

Read "Blockchain Technology Impact on EDI and ERP Systems" to better understand this groundbreaking technology, why its the future of error-free transaction processing and how you may be able to leverage it.

Download the Blockchain for EDI Brief

Careers

When you love where you work, life seems more balanced.

It's not drudgery and it's not painful. Working at a company with a great culture allows you to put your skill set to work and know that you're making a difference, building strong relationships with colleagues, enjoying work-life-balance and in general, being professionally and personally fulfilled. Work should be more than just a place to earn a paycheck.

And Data Masons is just that.

Data Masons has built a culture where people want to work; a culture focused on professional and personal growth; an environment that is exciting and fun.

And with our new office in Amsterdam, an expanded support team in the Philippines, and sales and support in Australia, we are well poised for continued global growth. We expect 2018 to be a very healthy year for our business.

Watch this video and learn why joining our company would be a great investment in yourself. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Session Focused on Simplifying EDI Integration Without Embedded Customization

Amsterdam, Netherlands -Data Masons Software, LLC., a leading provider of integrated EDI and XML solutions for Microsoft Dynamics customers, is pleased to announce its sponsorship of eXtreme365, a forward-thinking event that brings end-users, partners, subject matter experts, and technologists together to network and explore trends and opportunities around the Microsoft Intelligent Business Cloud platform including Microsoft Dynamics 365. The event is 19-22 March 2018 in Dubvronik, Croatia.

Data Masons’ Vantage Point is an all-in-one EDI software solution for Microsoft Dynamics ERP software including Microsoft Dynamics 365. Vantage Point, the first of its kind to be listed on AppSource and is the only EDI solution Certified for Dynamics 365 (August 2017).

Data Masons will present “EDI Made Simple for Dynamics 365: Integration Without Embedded Customization”, and be available in the Exhibit Hall in Booth #15 where attendees can learn about their fully-automated, Microsoft Certified, Vantage Point EDI for Microsoft Dynamics 365. Read the full release here.

edI for dynamics 365, Dynamics ERP Integration, Dynamics AX EDI, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics

Partnership to Benefit Microsoft Dynamics Customers in Automotive, Manufacturing, Food, Distribution and Retail Industries.

Chesterfield, United Kingdom; Amsterdam, Netherlands

eBECS, a Microsoft Gold Partner in Delivering and Managing Microsoft Total Business Solutions and Data Masons, a Microsoft Gold Partner providing Microsoft Certified EDI solutions for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365, are pleased to announce their strategic partnership for B2B business.

“We share a common goal to address the rapidly changing supply chain needs of our B2B customers. By combining Data Mason’s cutting-edge EDI solution with our skills and industry expertise in ERP, we enable ourselves to offer an all up service to customers in this space. We are very excited about the opportunity this partnership offers.” said Sam Dharmasiri, UK Sales Director, eBECS.

Read the complete press release here.