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EDI World Magazine: A Blast from the Past

I’ve been around the EDI industry for so long that I’ve become nostalgic about it. You probably think I need to “get a life” or maybe I’m just a geek at heart.

I remember the days when EDI trade shows were the place to be to learn what’s going on in the industry. EDI World magazine was also a good source of information and the best way to communicate trends, plus it provided a captive audience for advertisers. The premier issue of EDI World came out in October 1990 and the publisher was Richard D’Alessandro from Hollywood, Florida. It was a monthly publication that evolved and adapted to changes in the industry over the next 12 years.

In October 2009 I obtained the near complete catalogue of EDI World back issues from 1990-2002 with the exception of some later issues. They were donated to me by Jayne Gillette from EDI Partners in Virginia. She posted a message on Yahoo’s EDI-L forum offering these back issues for free to the first person that responded. I was quick to reply and all I had to do was pay for the shipping and they were mine.

You must be asking yourself, “Why on earth would you want old copies of an EDI trade magazine?” The answer is that I’m very nostalgic about things that I’ve been involved with for a good part of my life whether it’s personal or work related. I still make a living from EDI some 25+ years later and these copies of EDI World are like a journal of my work life for 12 of those years in the industry.

As I flip through the issues it’s interesting to see how EDI has evolved. For the first three years EDI World only reported on electronic data interchange trends. Starting in February 1993 the magazine added a tag line to its cover: “A monthly magazine of Electronic Commerce”. This was meant to be more inclusive of other forms of doing business electronically such as electronic forms, proprietary order entry systems and even email. In September 1994 the tag line was changed to “Electronic Commerce Management and Technology Integration”. It made sense to expand the magazine’s reach as more companies were taking steps to integrate e-commerce with their legacy business applications.

In 1994 EDI World started publishing supplements once or twice a year to promote software and services that were available from vendors. These supplements were very helpful considering the Internet wasn’t as resourceful back then as it is today. They produced the Software Directory Supplement, EC/EDI Software Directory, Healthcare EDI Directory, Financial EDI Directory, VAN/VAB Directory and EC Over the Internet Directory. Looking back, I discovered my name in the directory when I was working at Bell Global Solutions in 1996.

In January 1997 the name of the magazine changed to Electronic Commerce World and the tag line changed to “Business Solutions through Technology Integration”. Again, this reflected the expanding nature of the industry and appealed to a broader audience. At this point the size of magazine almost doubled to 80 pages which is an indication of how much the industry was growing. That’s not huge in the scheme of things in publishing but it was very significant for a specific technology like EDI and e-commerce.

Electronic Commerce World was sold to Thomson EC Resources in early 1998 and Mr. D’Alessandro remained as publisher. Thomson EC Resources was a division of the Thomson family empire from Canada that we know as Thomson Reuters today. Over its final four years, Electronic Commerce World bounced around various Thomson divisions looking for a permanent home.

As the year 2000 approached EDI was losing its “sex appeal”. Companies were adopting EDI at a slow and steady pace, but it wasn’t fast enough for the naysayers. On the other hand the Internet was moving into high gear and there was so much more hype and potential around emerging technologies. It probably made sense for Thomson to stop publishing a magazine like Electronic Commerce World that was so narrowly focused with declining readership. The last issue came out in February 2002.

I will probably hold on to these back issues of EDI World until I retire. When the time comes I’ll offer them to someone else who might be interested. In the meantime I’ll sift through the back issues every once in a while and look for something nostalgic to write about.

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