We have already written a couple of blogs on EDI (electronic data interchange –which is basically a synonym for B2B integration) that you may have read if you have been following our blog for a while. (If you missed these series of EDI articles, make sure to check them out!) We have also written a blog on why iPaaS is the ideal tool for B2B data and system integration.
Nevertheless, we missed on the opportunity to point out the benefits that organizations see once they are embracing the endless possibilities of B2B integration. In this blog, we are focusing on some of the benefits that enterprises see once they start using an iPaaS vendor for fulfilling their B2B integration needs.
As we are building complex B2B integration solutions on top of an integration platform operated in Microsoft Azure cloud, our views on this topic are based on our own and on our customers’ experiences and opinions of the perks of an iPaaS.
1. Managed service
Your IT team shouldn’t use their precious time to develop B2B integrations. Whether they are coding point-to-point integrations or they would use some sort of an integration tool (like an EDI VAN for example - read more of these in one of our previous posts this year) to develop the connections that you need to keep in touch with your trading partners, using an integration platform will save their time and they can focus on other tasks.
Instead, you can describe your data and system integration challenges and find an integration platform provider. In co-operation with your integration vendor, you can map out the best way to move forward to execute your data integration strategy. The cool thing about collaborating with an integration platform vendor is that they will fully manage the service on your behalf. iPaaS vendors develop the solution, they manage the end-to-end testing together with your personnel, and your partner will deploy and maintain your solution.
2. Full configuration
Changes may happen within your trading network. In that case, it is possible that you need to be able to implement changes in your integration solutions. Whether you are building EAI integrations, connecting trading partners, or creating API interfaces, you will always ensure that your clients can securely access your applications and systems.
Regardless what message formats you and your partners use for communications, you will always receive and send information in the preferred message type.
3. Collaboration across the ecosystem
B2B ecosystems are constantly expanding. This means that you may need to be able to connect with new partners on a daily basis. Onboarding of new clients, manufacturers, suppliers, 3PLs need to happen rapidly in a matter of hours or days. Traditionally, this has been a lot longer process, especially if different systems and applications needed to communicate with each other.
This is something that an iPaaS has made a lot easier. Whether your partners use legacy systems or modern cloud-based applications, you will be able to rapidly connect with them and exchange messages. Deploying the solution can happen within a few hours or days depending on the complexity of the solution.
4. Integrate any applications and systems
One of the most frequent questions that prospects have been asking is whether they are able to integrate any two or more systems and applications with an integration platform.
An integration platform serves as the perfect tool for connecting any applications and systems whether these are legacy ones or more modern ones.
Lately, there is a lot of discussion about hybrid integrations - connecting on-premise and cloud-based systems and apps. An iPaaS is an ideal tool for executing this task. In this post, we are not going to dig deeper into hybrid integrations, but if you want to know more, we suggest you read our recent blog on hybrid integration warfare.
As many firms are still operating on top of technologies that were purchased a few decades back (and they still do the work just fine), connecting these with applications is not an easy task – but it is crucial for operating more efficiently and ensuring that the information reaches all stakeholders in an instant.
5. Real-time data
Receiving data in real-time is the core purpose of connecting two or more parties within an ecosystem. Data is the foundation of many aspects of business, therefore having it available at the right time, place, and stakeholder is crucial. It doesn’t only help to automate business processes, but ensure that you will have accurate insights that help planning and forecasting, and you will be able to adjust your operations to make more efficient. Ultimately, your customer satisfaction will skyrocket, too.
The heterogeneousness of systems and applications is not the only factor that is holding enterprises back from transferring data in real-time. Heterogeneousness of data formats and message types is also a barrier that companies need to tackle.
Many firms are still using EDIFACT and ANSI X12 for communication. At the same times, others may use XML, JSON, or proprietary formats. To make sense of the data, it’s crucial that the data format is homogenized during the transfer process.
In iPaaS, we offer tools for achieving homogeneous data instantly. Translating data formats needs to be easy and ensure that the syntax of the messages remains the same.
6. Business process integration
Automating business processes has two main benefits: saving time and money. Additionally, it will also improve stakeholder relationship, as doing business will become easier.
This allows businesses to spend more time on developing new innovative services instead of manually handling business-critical information.
Integration platforms have been breaking down barriers and made business process integration available to the masses instead of just large enterprises.
7. Improved data quality
Transmitting and translating data is rarely a fix to all the data related issues. Oftentimes, there are quality issues, such as there are errors in the data or there are missing fields.
To ensure the data integrity, solutions built on top of an integration platform can validate all the data fields against your business rules and ensure that the data that you receive does not include false or missing information.
8. Business intelligence on your processes
To complement our integration solutions, we developed a business activity monitoring tool as we received feedback from our customers that there is a need for insights on the data that is flowing through our connections.
9. Understand customers better
Utilizing data regarding business processes can help you to understand your customers better. What are their habits, how do they shop, what are their expectations, you name it. When you have intelligence on them, you will be able to improve the overall customer experience and that will have a significant impact on the customer retention as well.
Planning and forecasting also get a lot simpler when you have all vital data at one place at the right time.
Integration platform for EDI?
Compared to traditional EDI solutions, a cloud-based integration platform has so much more to offer than simply just transferring information between two systems and applications. If you want to know more of iPaaS, we suggest you grab a copy of our product sheet using the link below.