Darryl L. DePriest is the seventh presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy.
Prior to joining the Small Business Administration Office of...
United States Small Business Administration
Office of Advocacy
Impact of Electronic Data Interchange on Small Firms
by Peter Ashton
1995. 188 p. Innovation & Information Consultants, Inc., 955 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, under contract no. SBA-8030-OA-93
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is an emerging technology that has important implications for small firms. EDI can be broadly defined as the computer-to-computer exchange of routine information, from one organization to another. Small firms' ability to compete will be affected by their use of EDI. The Office of Advocacy initiated this research to identify: (1) the benefits and any adverse effects of EDI on small firms; (2) measures that may be taken to implement a uniform EDI technical standard; (3) measures that may be taken to prevent EDI from having an adverse effect on small firms in the federal procurement process; (4) measures that may be taken to prevent EDI from becoming a competitive barrier for small firms; and (5) technical and financial assistance the U.S. Small Business Administration and other federal agencies can offer to small firms that seek to use EDI.
Scope and Methodology
A thorough search of books, reports, articles, and conference materials published by business and trade press, companies, technical standards bodies, and government agencies was conducted. In addition, interviews were conducted with small and large firm users of EDI, industry trade groups, EDI software and service vendors including Value Added Networks (a third-party service that can furnish users with services such as message storage and forwarding, transmission tracking, data translation, additional security, etc.), and other key players. The research also included a series of case studies of EDI in the retail sector, in health care networks, among firms in international trade, and in one Department of Defense installation.
EDI is a rapidly spreading technology that is quickly changing the face of marketing goods and services across many industries. Because their financial and managerial resources are usually more limited than those of large firms, small firms are typically not the first to implement new process technologies that are greatly affected by economies of scale. Small businesses' lack of information and resources to become active EDI users may present a special handicap to their ability to compete. Providing information, matching resources, setting standards, providing access and ensuring a smooth transition for small firms to this new information-based market environment should be a priority for public and private small business organizations.
The complete report is available from:
National Technical Information Service
U.S. Department of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield VA 22161
(703) 487-4639 (TDD)
Order number: PB95-271102
Cost: A09 (paper); A02 (microfiche)
*Last Modified 6-11-01