September Newsletter  
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Message from the CEO

Fifteen years ago, EDI meant hand built software, VANs, and point-to-point connections affordable to only the largest enterprises.

Ten years ago, with the advent of the Internet, EDI began the shift to an ASP model. Software suddenly lived on someone else’s servers. Connectivity was achieved via the Web. And as long as you had a connection to the Internet, you could connect from anywhere. Most importantly, small and medium sized firms could suddenly afford EDI.

Today, using Web-based EDI services like DIcentral’s, the smallest businesses compete with the big guys

It is a revolution in the way we conduct business.

Goodbye to rooms of people handling paper, re-keying data, and pushing invoices through fax machines.

Goodbye to costly chargebacks created in large part through human error.

Goodbye to proprietary networks, costly software, high maintenance charges, and multiple license fees.

Goodbye to memorizing trading partners’ business rules.

Enter a new world of business where companies can mine their business data, layering sales data over geographic data, mapping information to learn strengths and weaknesses in sales.

Enter a world where the busywork of business is handled by machines that tirelessly work in the background, allowing you to focus on what you do best – making your product and service better.

DIcentral manages Baker Hughes’ B2B Data Exchange

Three years after Baker Hughes Inc. selected DIcentral to manage data exchange between Baker Hughes and its worldwide customers – a first of its kind EDI data integration project – the software is working flawlessly.

“We’re delighted with the success of the integration project,” says Noel McCalba of Baker Hughes. “With DIcentral, we didn’t have to buy expensive software or dedicated lease lines. DIcentral helped us improve our days sales outstanding. It really helps the company’s bottom line. I’d recommend DIcentral to other oil and gas industry suppliers – especially those companies with high volume transactions or enterprise solutions like SAP.”

In 2001, Baker Hughes was required to switch data integration providers within 30 days as a part of Project Renaissance, a major company initiative to achieve significant cost savings by streamlining internal business processes and effectively implementing SAP enterprise resource planning software. Baker Hughes chose DIcentral to manage the data exchange.

DIcentral allowed Baker Hughes to achieve customer integration in 30 days, instead of the five to six months proposed by other providers. Another critical factor in the selection was DIcentral's ability to adapt easily to changing e-commerce environments in the future. Baker Hughes expects their measure of Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) to be reduced over the long term as a result.

"DIcentral's Solution drastically reduces the cost of data exchange and requires only days or weeks of set-up and operational time rather than the months required by traditional solutions," said Thuy Mai, DIcentral Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased to serve as a technology partner with Baker Hughes, and we look forward to expanding our service relationship to the entire supply chain."

Baker Hughes Incorporated is a leading supplier of reservoir-centered products, services and systems to the worldwide oil and gas industry and a leading supplier of separation technologies to the worldwide process industries.

Vitaltech Helps Businesses Learn EDI Fundamentals For Customers

More and more small and medium sized businesses are being asked to do business using EDI, but for many EDI is a mystery.

“They need help on the logistics side,” says Vitaltech Solution’s Prashant Patankar.

How to manage work flow. How to prepare bills of lading to meet the vendor logistics requirements. How to handle transportation. How to do UCC labeling.

“We help small business learn all the things they need to do to comply and avoid getting hit with chargebacks from the majors,” says Patankar.

Vitaltech also consults with businesses on everything from setting up networks to suggesting appropriate solutions.

Prashant Patankar

Vitaltech Solutions LLC
5 Almond Circle
West Windsor, NJ 08550
(732) 604-1604 

Customer Satisfaction is Job Number 1

Eric Smith smiled as he turned around in his chair.

“I just got off the phone with a customer who was having problems setting up a printer for his UCC labels,” says Smith. “It’s always satisfying when I can help a customer through that process. There are so many printer drivers and so many settings. I’m glad I can help our EDI customers.”

Smith is one of a dedicated staff of customer service representatives who focus on helping DIcentral customers.

Before he joined DIcentral in early 2004, Smith worked for three years with WebDI, a company focused on the oil and gas industry and founded by DIcentral CEO Thuy Mai in the late 90s.

“I didn’t realize how big EDI is in the retail industry,” says Smith. “EDI is central to the retail business.”

Smith, a native Houstonian and graduate of St. Thomas University, spends much of his time working with customers, developing EDI profiles, testing data, and ensuring smooth and accurate flow of information between hub and vendor.

“I enjoy helping customers have a good EDI experience,” says Smith. “It’s job number one.”

“Easier,” “Faster,” Cheaper” EDI

When Holly Harrington wrote us (see Holly’s Email textbox) about how much she liked our service, we thought we would give her a call. Here’s her story:

“DIcentral has really been great,” says Holly Harrington, who oversees operations, imports, purchasing, and warehousing for International Playthings, a toy distributor and manufacturer serving specialty and big box toy chains. “To handle EDI, we used to have two vendors, and we had special software in order to print labels. Setting up new trading partners was a nightmare.”

To get started in EDI, Harrington had to take a special course.

“I had to learn about segments and mapping and testing,” she says. “I would get my forms from one software vendor, set up the mailboxes with another vendor, do all the testing myself, and then work with the label supplier to get the 856’s and the labels. Then there was invoicing and the mapping we needed to do to get data from our software. I was constantly working on what was wrong with our maps. To set up a new trading partner would easily take me three months.”

Now, says Harrington, she leaves everything to DIcentral. New trading partners are connected in two weeks.

Saves time and money

“DIcentral saved me time and money,” she says. “Set up is inexpensive. We used to pay $500, $600, $700 for the label and 856 software alone. And that was for each trading partner! On top of that, we had to pay a yearly maintenance fee. DIcentral represents a dramatic savings for us.”

Harrington used to be “very cautious” about setting up new trading partners. In the early days of EDI, companies like Target and Toys“R”Us required its suppliers to use EDI – an expensive proposition.

“Because EDI used to be so expensive for us, I used to have second thoughts about setting up new trading partners,” she says. “Today with DIcentral, if a trading partner says EDI, I don’t even think twice. I say fine, let’s do it!”

Even the DIcentral users in the warehouse and customer service say it’s so much easier to use and to find things.

“It used to be one part was done in the warehouse, another part was done in customer service,” says Harrington. “You just couldn’t see where everything was. Now everyone can see everything at the same time.”

Integration plans

Harrington plans to integrate DIcentral with her accounting system to avoid the hassle of re-keying data.

Harrington is impressed with DIcentral’s level of customer service.

“Every time I’ve called customer service with what I consider to be a stupid question, they immediately have the answer,” says Harrington. “They’re incredibly patient. They’ve know the answer to every question I’ve had.”

Bottom line: DI central works as advertised.

“”It’s like those products that when you first hear about you say, ‘No way could it be this good.’ But it is.”

And one more thing, says Harrington:

“Because DIcentral is Internet based, for the last eight weeks I’ve been able to work from home. I just log in and see exactly what someone half way across the country is looking at. For people with multiple locations, this feature represents a huge savings.”

Holly’s Email

Dear DIcentral:

It has been a couple of months now that we have been transacting using DIcentral.  We have successfully gotten all of our customers up and in production - and even added a few new customers.  I was amazed at how quickly the process was.  The transition for us was seamless.  Even the new customers that you had not had set up prior to our switching.  I really appreciate the help of Robert, Vu and Ellie. 

I have had a few questions along the way and everyone in your customer support department has been extremely helpful and knowledgeable.  More importantly, patient and understanding.  We have several users from customer service to warehouse operations using the system (all of limited knowledge and understanding of exactly what EDI is), and they have all been able to pick up their tasks quickly and I believe understand better because they are able to see the whole process.  They have told me that it is much easier than the way we were operating before.

When I originally called some of your references prior to signing up, I did hear comments on how great the support and customer service team was.  At the time, it seemed a little too good to be true.  The service we have received was as advertised - excellent.  It is unusual to find a tech company where someone answers the support calls on the first ring and you don't have to hold for at least 20 minutes.  All of my calls were answered promptly and my questions answered within minutes. 

Prior to our switching we connected directly with IBM and GEIS using translation software from one vendor (for PO's and invoices) and software from another company for labeling and 856 generation.  With DIcentral having all of these things in one place, it has helped us to no end.  We have not had a single chargeback or claim from a customer for missing information.  For me, it is great to be able to log on and see where orders stand and monitor our operational process.

Before using DIcentral, we were very carefully selecting which customers we would be able to transact with via EDI because of the long arduous process of setting up new customers and getting all of our software vendors the mapping information that they needed.  With DIcentral, I know that we are on the latest version and the upgrades are done automatically and behind the scenes.  What a difference!

I have recommended DIcentral to other companies and will continue to recommend DIcentral in the future.  I expect that we will be using DIcentral long into the future.  Thank you so much for finding us and giving us the opportunity to use DIcentral.

Best regards,

Holly L. Harrington

International Playthings, Inc.

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