EDI, abbr. for Electronic Data Interchange, general term for industry standards regarding the electronic exchange of business documents. Using EDI, companies can automatically exchange data without having to use the instable method of intermediately storing the data and reintroducing it into the other system. You can for instance send orders to a suppliers system fully automated using EDI. The exchange of data calls for a uniform data structure. A supplier must be able to assign the material number sent by the purchaser in his system. As different suppliers use different systems with different data structures, data exchange is often problematic, encouraging the establishment of uniform standards. Yet the data structure doesn’t only vary between enterprises, but also between industries and countries. As different industries operate with different business processes even different industry standards have developed; VDA in the automotive industry, for instance. The most widely applied standard world-wide is the UN/EDIFACT standard established by the united nations.