January 3, 2017

IDEA Dictionary: What is a VAN?

When dealing with data, and all related terminology, you may feel like you’re trying to speak a foreign language. In the interest of keeping things clear and simple, we will introduce commonly-used terms in our IDEA Dictionary series to help you navigate the data shorthand and learn the lingo. This week, we bring you: Value-Added Network (VAN). 

What is a VAN? 

A ValueAdded Network (VAN) is a mechanism used to facilitate electronic data interchange (EDI) between business partners. It is an outsourced network that automates B2B interactions, and guarantees a smooth and secure EDI document exchange. 

How does a VAN work? 

A VAN acts as a virtual mailbox where your trading partners pick up your data, and you retrieve their data from them. More specifically, when a company sends a transaction to a VAN, the VAN examines the “from” and the “to” information, and then places the transaction in the receiver’s mailbox. The receiver contacts the VAN to pick up the transaction. The “valueadded” part of the VAN system comes from services such as message validation and inspection, mail notifications, backup and recovery, mapping, compliance, and others. 

How does a VAN help with my company’s business-to-business (B2B) interactions? 

By serving as an intermediary between you and your trading partners, the VAN reduces the number of parties with which your company needs to communicate to conduct business. The VAN simplifies your B2B communications process, thereby reducing the number of paper transfers needed, cutting costs, and speeding up a wide range of tasks and processes. 

Does IDEA’s EDI service use a VAN? 

At IDEA, we recognize that remaining at the cutting edge of technology and ensuring a superior customer experience for our customers requires continuous improvement and technical upgrades. As part of this commitment, IDEA chose to move the Industry Data Exchange (IDX) – our EDI service – to a Tier 1-level VAN to offer an enhanced platform and provide our customers with a competitive edge utilizing the latest EDI technology. In November 2016, IDEA announced that we had selected Liaison Technologies’ Exchange Network platform to power the next-generation IDX. Liaison’s Exchange Network is a VAN that enables a fast and secure transfer of any EDI document volume, and offers a multitude of impressive advanced capabilities. Using this VAN will allow IDEA to take our EDI service to a new level, providing a reliable and cost-effective solution for all of our customers’ trading needs. Learn more about IDEA’s EDI service upgrade here. 

For any further questions about VANs or inquiries about IDEA’s EDI solution, please contact IDEA’s B2B EDI Solutions Manager, Tom Guzik at tguzik@idea4industry.com.