We have been writing a series of blogs on EDI which is essentially a synonym for business-to-business integrations. We never, however, asked the question that why business-to-business integrations are becoming increasingly important in the globalized world where companies operate with a massive amount of trading partners.
This blog provides a grasp of why B2B integrations cannot be neglected: connectivity and data sharing are cornerstones of modern business operations and enterprises must have the right plan of how to utilize the underlying information better for improved processes and efficiency.
B2B integrations: an increasing trend
There is no such enterprise that hasn’t been facing B2B data and system integration challenges. As networks are growing, the need for integrations is emerging too. As every organization is facing unique integration challenges, the tools and the solutions that they may use can principally vary. Most of the B2B integration challenges are becoming increasingly complex and the solutions need to be suitable for tackling convoluted scenarios.
Traditional integration software and best practices may not be the most suitable option for developing complex connections across hundreds of trading partners. Nevertheless, integrations are still often overlooked and considered as easy to execute. Planning an integration project and executing it requires an excessive amount of understanding the core business, understanding data integrations as the technology, and managing the change that integrations bring to the business.
Why do businesses need B2B data and system integrations?
Companies have been using EDI for over 50 years now to connect with their network and share messages electronically. Still, business-to-business integrations are becoming more critical for organizations. In the heavily globalized work, organizations need to be able to connect with their stakeholders and share information with them in real-time. This can only happen if the disparate networks are connected and are capable of sharing information.
It’s not only the number of trading partners that are complicating the situation, but also that systems are not homogeneous, nor the data, and besides physical systems, there are also cloud applications that need to be connected with back-end systems, often legacy technologies.
Some enterprises may have hundreds if not thousands of partners that they need to connect with. Traditional system integration approaches are not adequate for rapidly connecting trading partners. Today companies need solutions that can generate the connections rapidly and in case there is a need, new ones can be added just as quickly.
Connectivity is the enabler of data sharing
Connectivity is the basis for data sharing. Systems haven’t been designed for sharing information. Legacy systems have been designed to operate autonomously, so enterprises can maintain their ownership of the data. There needs to be a link between them that equips them with a technology layer to transmit information between one another.
Integrating more than two systems is complex: there is a mapping process phase that needs to happen in order to identify the specifications of one system and to turn it into the equivalent requirements of another system so they will be able to communicate based on the same semantic rules.
Information sharing traditionally has happened by manually entering or forwarding information or by electronic data interchange. However, the data wasn’t shared in real-time in these cases. This is something that needs to change and supply stakeholders with the information they need when they need it within their own systems.
Enterprises need to find the best integration solution that is suitable for their complex integration projects: there is a need for complete and holistic integration solutions. The solution needs to be able to connect any kind of technologies regardless of their location to enable the flow of messages and synchronize the data formats.
B2B integrations = data sharing
The complexity of integration cases can vary. Some can be as simple as a plain transmission of EDIFACT or XML messages while complex connections across multiple stakeholders within a value chain.
Nevertheless, B2B integrations’ ultimate purpose is to forward messages between trading partners once the back-end systems and applications have been connected. As EDI backlogs are growing due to increasing need for communicating between B2B partners, there is a need for state-of-the-art solutions that not only connect the systems but deal with the data management and data integrity challenges too.
As data is heterogeneous either, there is a need for translation solutions during the transmission, so all stakeholders receive information in a format that their back-end systems can understand. This is not an easy task – different industries are operating on different standards and many organizations have also developed their own message formats.
B2B integrations are constantly evolving
Modern integration technologies need to be able to serve fast-changing data and system integration needs. This means that new connections must be added rapidly to ensure the flow of information in real-time. Solutions also need to be scalable for times when the volume of the data would suddenly increase.
Developing integration solutions for several months is not an option – new solutions need to be developed and deployed in days or in just a few days
Integration technology and expertise is vital
Each integration problem is unique and the cases require a different approach to developing the right solution. To tackle the B2B integration challenges, enterprises need to find a technology provider that ticks all the boxes of their requirements and has a team of integration experts that can help from planning the data and system integrations together to comply with your data integration strategy.
Data Integration Strategy is crucial in today’s business
We have been writing several blogs on how important it is to have a data integration strategy. The more partners you need to connect with, the more you need to know your priorities and how you are going to execute the digital change.
You need to be able to assess different technologies and firms to find the best integration provider to cooperate in the strategy execution
iPaaS is the best tool for complex integrations
Using an integration platform for tackling all your integration challenges makes sense. The cloud-based perform has been designed to rapidly solve even the most challenging integration cases. It is the right tool for connecting on-premise technologies, cloud applications, or to d hybrid connections.
iPaaS has been designed more for than just EDI: it can handle data management and data integrity issues, such as validating the data and enriching if necessary.
In all cases, our integration architects help you to outline the best solution for your specs and they will develop, test, and deploy the solution on your behalf.
If you are interested in reading more, download 'The Most Common EDI Challenges' eBook: