It is not a secret that in today's fast-paced business world, data exchange between trading partners is essential for any industry, and maritime logistics, of course, is not an exception.
Being a part of the industry, you cannot afford to work in silos anymore. Lack of system interoperability and real-time information shared with stakeholders might get you out of business easily. In contrast, providing data of a superior quality to your business partners timely will give you an additional competitive advantage and significantly increase your chances for business success. The only question here is how to jump on the data integration bandwagon with minimum investments and risks?
In essence, there are two main strategies to data integration in the world of B2B communications - the development of own integration solutions (in-house integration) or partnering with a company that provides fully managed integration service on its own platform (managed integration solution). Let's look at each option and try to understand what is the difference between the two and which one will work the best precisely for your case.
In-house data integration, what is it?
In brief, in-house data integrations imply the usage of only own "in-house" resources to develop and maintain integration solutions that would satisfy in full a company's existing B2B data exchange and communication needs.
For quite a while, the in-house approach was the only option to establish B2B communications between business partners. To make the communication process possible, apart from having well-trained IT teams, companies were forced to invest tons of money into on-premises hardware.
Nowadays, thanks to a wave of technological advancements that happened in the recent two decades, enterprises have a chance to shift from on-premises solutions to cloud ones. However, the need to have a team of integration experts is still paramount, and here is why.
Generally, going with the cloud, enterprises have two options - to use out-of-the-box integration scenarios offered by a number of iPaaS vendors (integration Platform as a Service) or to use an integration cloud platform as a tool to build own integration solution explicitly adjusted to a company's integration needs.
As the world of business communications is quite complex, which is especially true for maritime logistics, out-of-the-box solutions are not always applicable. And even if they are, there is still a need for a team that will be responsible for maintenance and future adjustments to constantly changing integration needs.
As a rule, such changes do not happen that often, therefore, instead of having a specifically devoted integration resource/unit, companies delegate this burden to their IT departments. As integrations are not the core competence of already existing personnel, these people should be continuously trained for each new integration scenario, which for sure is equal to additional investments. Not to mention that integration duties might distract IT experts from the department's daily tasks.
In reality, most companies go with the second option and use integration platforms as a tool. This choice makes them have a team of experts devoted solely to the in-house integrations. In this case, apart from training of the personnel, company must invest in HR-related activities such as hiring or retaining skilled labor.
As seen from above, both scenarios of in-house b2b integrations go hand in hand with having a team of experts that would be capable of handling all the integrations. Additionally, due to a lack of experience, it is not always clear how much time is needed to execute an integration project. All these issues make in-house integrations not only expensive but time-consuming as well. So, going in-house will work for enterprises that already have an experienced integration team and can afford to take expenses and risks associated with the approach.
For the industry's newcomers that can not afford to waste budget or for companies that are in a rush to establish communications with trading partners, in-house integration projects might become a real nightmare.
Why does in-house strategy still exist, and why do enterprises stick to it?
At this point, you might have a question like - if going in-house is expensive, risky, and time-consuming, why does the approach still exist?
There are a number of reasons. One of those is that some companies started their integration journey a few decades ago. At that time, there were no alternatives existing today and in-house was only the option. As a result, now they have well-trained integration teams and solutions that most likely satisfy existing B2B communication needs and can be fine-tuned as needed in case of any change in the business environment. So, many of those still do in-house merely by inertia utilizing the existing workforce and solutions.
Also, some companies are afraid of the risks of migration, so they are pursuing the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" strategy, which is not always the most efficient or cost-effective.
Others have concerns about losing control over the integration process or even have fears regarding data privacy issues. As to newcomers, they often overlook the complexity of upcoming projects and consider integrations as easy to execute. Simply put, when it comes to the complex world of business integrations, each company might have its own "well justified" list of reasons why in-house is only the option.
In our experience, whatever the reasons are, most likely in 2020 they are merely excuses to stay in the past and use outdated integration approach. In today's business reality, when companies of all types and sizes try to keep costs down and increase the efficiency of business processes, the in-house model is not viable at all. So many believe that the burden of handling resource-intensive in-house integration should be outsourced to companies that execute integrations as a service on a daily basis. That is precisely where managed integration solutions came into place.
Managed integration solutions and their benefits for your business
In essence, managed integration solutions are a combination of managed integration service provided by a vendor and the vendor's cloud platform where the magic happens.
In other words, while you are focusing on your core competencies and doing what you do best, vendors will take care of the whole integration process from development and design to deployment and maintenance on their cloud platform.
As integrations are not core competence for many companies, in order to avoid unnecessary budget spending and inefficient resource management, they are choosing to outsource this work to a partner who has industry-specific knowledge and unique expertise. Such an integration strategy helps to achieve not only fast and seamless data integration but also efficient and effective resource allocation, which is quite essential in our turbulent time.
As a rule, since an integration partner possesses industry-required knowledge and experience, development and execution happen rapidly. Moreover, the connections are easy to scale when the volume of the data or the number of business partners increases.
The benefits of managed integration solutions
In brief, you can expect the following benefits in case of going with managed integrations:
- High efficiency and cost-effectiveness (You get better return on investments compared to in-house integrations)
- Better resource management (Your human resources will be focused entirely on your core business and day-to-day operations)
- Scalability and fast onboarding of new stakeholders (Easy to scale if the volume of the data suddenly increases or a new partner needs be connected)
- Predictable and transparent pricing (Subscription-based model provides a clear structure of future costs)
- Quick deployment (Since your integration partner has extensive experience and industry-specific knowledge there is no need for learning new concepts or formats)
- No hiring or training associated costs (Fast expansion of network and onboarding of business partners happen without a need to hire new or train existing employees)
- No burden from owning and maintaining integration hardware or software (All integrations happen on partner's cloud platform with no need to invest anything in it)
- No "key man" risk (Your integration project does not depend on an indispensable person that may suddenly leave your company due to retirement age, new career opportunities, holidays, or sick leave. Instead, the solution runs 24/7, and your partner's team of integration experts will do the fork for you).
In the new post-COVID reality, the pressure to do more with less is higher than ever before. By leveraging modern managed integration solutions, companies get a chance not only to save money on not having unnecessary spending but also to gain a competitive advantage by pushing the performance of B2B communications to the highest level.
How Can Managed Integrations Help Your business?
Successful planning and execution of an integration project require not only an understanding of data integrations as a technology, but an excessive amount of industry knowledge, substantial experience in integrations, and an understanding of the core business of your clients.
For the past decade, Youredi has been developing integration services for a number of industries. Today Youredi is the leading provider of fully managed integration solutions for the Supply Chain and Maritime Logistics industries. Leading shippers, carriers, and data providers have trusted Youredi to deliver their most valuable data flow through Youredi's cloud platform.
To understand how Youredi's managed solution can help companies working in the Supply Chain and Maritime Logistics, we have prepared a list of use cases:
- Outsourcing the integrations - In any industry, cloud-based systems integration leads to operational efficiencies.
- Full visibility to your logistics flow - A shipper or a BCO needs to know where the goods are traveling.
- Understand your business processes - In a modern networked world, you need to be able to fetch information from multiple sources in order to understand your own processes.
- Data quality - You cannot work correctly with incorrect data. An integration solution has a critical role in validating the incoming data.
- Information Enrichment - Integration is not only message transformation but a critical asset when combining data from multiple sources.
- Automate your routines - The most fundamental use case of integration is to enable automation when transferring information between different applications.
- Peaceful co-existence - If you are already using an integration solution (or solutions), you don't need to change everything at once.
- Focus on your Core Competency - A cloud-based integration solution can be easily integrated into your existing solution, and expand its functionality.
Youredi's solutions are versatile, reliable, and fully managed. Our teams develop, deploy and maintain all your integrations, whether you need simple API connectivity or complex B2B integration solution across a number of trading partners. We can transfer and transform information between different business applications, systems, and organizations. When it comes to the connection of on-premise technologies to cloud applications, or even establishing hybrid integrations, our managed integration solutions are indispensable as well.
To better understand the benefits your company can enjoy partnering with Youredi and to learn more about how companies from your business niche leveraged their integration strategies with our solutions, sign up for a quick call with our experts here.