As we approach 2022, it is vital to understand what trends are taking place within the industry in the upcoming year. We must also consider how those trends will affect the data integration approaches and strategies of the global supply chain and logistics stakeholders.
In this article, we are listing five industry trends that, in our opinion, will affect b2b data integration the most. Perhaps some of those will be essential not only in 2022 but in the next few years to come. Let's look at these now.
1. Supply chain digitalization
Supply chain digitalization is not new, and it has appeared on our lists of industry trends before. However, with a demand for higher efficiency of any business operation caused by COVID-19, it continues to be the main focus for many companies in 2022.
The main goal of supply chain digitization is to eliminate the risks of information silos and ensure data vital for more accurate forecasting and planning. Achieving this goal implies the complete elimination of manual tasks, process automation, and ensuring flawless data sharing with all stakeholders (both internal and external) involved in a supply chain. Consequently, all parties and systems involved in a supply chain should be properly integrated and capable of exchanging necessary data in real-time.
A constantly growing number of stakeholders, the immense variety of different systems (including on-premise legacy systems built decades ago), coupled with an endless list of data formats and protocols the stakeholders might use, makes the integration process time-consuming and risky. This is especially true for those with no adequate integration skills, knowledge, or tools.
To overcome this digitalization challenge and not to get into an endless integration project, companies may leverage fully managed data integration solutions provided as a service. The concept of fully managed solutions implies that an integration vendor takes care of the whole integration cycle on behalf of a customer (from design to implementation and further maintenance of connections), which often guarantees seamless connectivity with all stakeholders, scalability of integrations, and rapid onboarding of new customers and trading partners.
This way, you can quickly nail supply chain digitalization, ensuring improved supply chain operations planning and efficiency.
To learn more about the benefits fully managed services provide, please read these articles from our blog:
- What to expect from fully managed data integration solutions.
- Managed vs. fully managed data integration solution -explained!
2. Logtech software, data aggregation platforms, and ecosystems ensuring supply chain analytics and visibility
Another trend not entirely new but critical for the industry is the use of Logtech software, platforms, and ecosystems ensuring supply chain analytics and visibility for the stakeholders.
Such platforms are not a new concept. They have been around for a while, providing the industry with critical data aggregated from various systems, sources, and actors. However, for the last few years, due to a bum of digitalization and demand for reliable real-time data, the number of players on this market has increased significantly. We can see various offers from industry-established brands to market newcomers and startups. Each promise a unique set of features that ensures new business opportunities and competitive advantages for a platform's stakeholders.
Since such platforms aim to satisfy the different integration needs of various actors operating in a range of transportation modes, it would be impossible to list all the benefits and perks stakeholders can get from those as a part of this blog. However, relying on such platforms, enterprises can often get data vital for process optimization, ensure end-to-end visibility throughout the whole supply chain, and reduce the need to build direct integration with each external party involved in a supply chain. Regardless of your integration needs, most likely, one of those platforms can provide you with the data you need to quickly make informed decisions.
However, it is essential to note that some vendors, to gain better market competitivity, might overpromise the benefits or even mislead you regarding the data quality or data sources they work with. A good example of such a case is when vendors provide unreliable data gathered helped by web scraping instead of promised real-time data received directly from a source of a client's interest.
To avoid this trap, we advise you to learn as much as possible about a vendor's know-how and integration capabilities before signing any contract. Typically, the uniqueness of the offer correlates with the uniqueness of the technology and approaches a company relies on. If it is the same as for the rest of the market, you should not expect a miracle. Conversely, if a vendor has expertise in managing real-time data flows between multiple sources and stakeholders, or relies on an integration partner who does this work on its behalf, often it is a guarantee you will get the top-quality data delivered directly to your IT system.
If you are not looking for a platform or software with a fancy GUI (Graphic User Interface) but a solution to get seamless connectivity with multiple sources and ensure a reliable data flow, a fully managed integration solution might be a good alternative for you.
Youredi, being a leading provider of fully managed solutions for logistics and the global supply chain, can help you with any data integration challenge you have. From this link, you can book a free meeting with our integration architects to learn how Youredi can help your business stay ahead of its competitors.
3. A hybrid integration platform (HIP) should be a part of your integration strategy
In the last few years, cloud-based software, services, and apps have become an integral part of IT infrastructures for many logistics and global supply chain stakeholders. By leveraging those, companies can consistently offer a high-quality service for their customers and clients, while ensuring better collaboration with trading partners and achieving lower operational costs and accelerating revenue.
As the industry continues to digitalize, we will see even more industry stakeholders relying on different cloud-based solutions to enjoy the above benefits. Nevertheless, systems that companies have depended on for ages (often on-premise legacy systems) are still crucial and often remain a key element of their business.
To seamlessly collaborate the legacy infrastructure with a modern cloud-based one, companies need a reliable integration solution to connect the two worlds.
Such a solution is often called - Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP). In essence, it is just a combination of an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service), an API (Application Programming Interface) management platform, and a team of experts experienced in different types of integrations.
Gartner defines these dimensions as the main determinants of a proper HIP:
- Personas (constituents): Integration specialists, ad hoc integrators, citizen integrators and digital integrators
- Integration domains: Application, data, b2b and process
- Endpoints: On-premises devices, the cloud, mobile devices and IoT devices
- Deployment models: Cloud (potentially across multiple environments), on-premises, hybrid (cloud and on-premises), and embedded in IoT devices
Today, you can find a long list of vendors providing an integration platform that your IT team can utilize for building, deploying, and maintaining your integrations. If you cannot afford to have and manage integration in-house, you can opt for a fully managed solution. Here, a vendor will provide you not with an iPaaS (as a tool) but rather a fully managed service that implies all the integrations will be developed, deployed, and maintained by the vendor's team of integration experts on your behalf.
Whatever option works for you the best, the most critical factor is the integration team's experience—whether your team's or a vendor's. Also, since integration platforms are often versatile and designed to satisfy the needs of actors from a range of sectors, a vendor's industry focus is critical.
Youredi is one of those vendors offering fully managed solutions developed specifically for supply chain and logistics. So, if you are looking for a reliable iPaaS, HIP, or API management platform, please contact us. You can find more information about Youredi iPaaS and our solutions here.
4. APIfying EDI is getting critical for many stakeholders
Although EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is common for b2b data exchange in supply chain and logistics, its glory days are long gone. In a modern business reality, where everything is moving to the cloud, and b2b integrations are not an exception, the API-first approach is growing its popularity daily. So, replacing EDI, or better to say, enhancing it with API capabilities, will be massive for the industry in 2022.
If your company solely relies on EDI, you need to be prepared that sooner or later, your clients will start asking you for an API to connect.
Companies prefer API over EDI because the technology help to accelerate the way businesses can manage connectivity across application and services. Or better yet, it simplifies and speeds up how integrations can be developed and deployed, which is vital for time and resource-saving and developing new business opportunities. So, ignoring such requests from customers or business partners might be a costly mistake.
On the other hand, even though many see EDI as a dead end, a big chunk of b2b data exchange still depends on EDI infrastructure. Companies have been investing heavily in it for the last several decades and are not ready to give up on EDI any time soon.
The best scenario to succeed in the modern world of business integrations is not replacing EDI per se but weaving it with API. This way, you are guaranteed a peaceful coexistence of two worlds enhancing each other. Besides that, you get happy trading partners and customers who will have no issues connecting with your system, whatever technology they prefer.
Modern cloud-based integration platforms can be the savior for many companies facing API/EDI connectivity issues. However, building integrations or developing API in-house might be tricky.
To overcome this issue, you better have a data integration partner to help you develop and manage your API or EDI integrations.
Suppose you feel that your company is in a situation as described above. If so, we have good news for you - Youredi provides agile and versatile solutions equally good for establishing different types of integrations as well as for API management (the process of creating, promoting, and overseeing APIs). To learn more about our solutions, please visit:
5. Automation and robotization
Although the logistics and supply chain sector are still old-fashioned, and improvements and innovations are sparse, there has been significant demand for process automation and robotization.
Minimizing manual work and automating equipment and vehicles playing a vital role in a logistics or warehouse function is seen by many as the best way to increase operational efficiency and be prepared for unexpected threads and challenges (e.g., labor shortages or lockdowns caused by the COVID-19). Usage of delivery drones, robots, self-driving trucks, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to automate storage & retrieval, trucking, and delivery processes has already shown positive results for many companies in 2021. So this trend will likely continue to gain popularity as we move into 2022 and beyond.
Ultimately, utilizing robots and machines will lead companies to a situation where to analyze and improve processes, they have to collect, aggregate, and harmonize data flows from countless sources. Meaning a lot of new software intended to process such data should be seamlessly integrated with the central IT system. Given that some companies still rely on systems built decades ago, this might be a challenging task.
To succeed in this endeavor, make sure to have in place an integration strategy that considers integration solutions capable of working with multiple endpoints as well as connecting together technology from the old and new worlds.
Looking at the trends listed above, we definitely can say that 2022 will be another year when digitalization will play a critical role in business success for all industry stakeholders.
We hope this article will help you develop an integration strategy to keep pace with industry digitalization and prepare for the challenges and surprises the market might throw up in 2022.
If you have any integration challenges, need advice from our integration experts, or just want to share your thoughts and observations with us, you can contact us via this form.