Today’s antiquated EDI functionality and snail-like processes can’t keep up with the latest in eBusiness automation spawned by the rise of the Internet. According to a new Report from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), firms should replace one-dimensional EDI-based systems with automated decision chains that can instantiate business strategy, collect real-time data, and act on the results.

“Companies haven’t been able to crack the code on automated eBusiness because they are trying to address multiple levels of decision-making with one infrastructure,” said Joeseph L. Butt, Jr., senior analyst at Forrester. “To make automated eBusiness successful, firms must create an infrastructure that applies automated decision-making to various time frames, using different rules and based on different data.”

To create this new automated decision chain, firms will have to build the underlying infrastructure in three separate levels of decision support. First, firms must focus on operational decisions, which center on internal efficiencies of delivering the right product at the right cost. Automated decisions, which rely on strategy data and analysis components, must be made in real time to keep production lines moving.

Second, automated supply chain decisions need operations data and information from both partners and customers. By sharing supply chain status, automated decisions can create marketing lift within the existing customer base in a matter of hours. Companies will need fast, secure connections to their partners to gather real-time partner fulfillment, collaboration, and strategy data that define their position in the supply chain. Inventory management and collaboration form the core of the partner tier strategy, which relies on longer time-frame components than the operations tier.

Lastly, the marketplace tier drives overall competitive advantage as companies are looking to respond faster to rapidly changing market conditions in the era of dynamic trade. Success in business requires finding profitable customer segments and exploiting them. Firms can’t perform automated marketplace decisions without marketplace data, and they should tap into third-party sources to ground their marketplace strategies.

“The result of this new data infrastructure for digital business will be an explosion of data that tracks B2B online trade over the next several years,” added Butt. “To support automated decision chains even further down the road, firms will need to address massive storage arrays, secure connections to dedicated, high-speed pipes, and depend upon serious big-iron supercomputers for online analytical processing.”

For the Report “Automating eBusiness,” Forrester interviewed 35 business-to-business site infrastructure managers who trade online with other firms. Eighty percent of respondents use EDI as their primary trading method, but all interviewees believe that they would be using other solutions within a year or two.