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Cloud Technologies Driving Businesses to Re-think their B2B

Core Facts
Organisations today deem business-to-business (B2B) integration strategies critical to business growth, and recognise that cloud-based integration can drive business agility and cut costs. However, nearly half of survey respondents are making a costly mistake by taking a tactical approach to automating these processes, according to a recent Vanson Bourne survey

The primary technology driver making companies re-think their B2B integration strategy is the ability to deploy more cloud-based B2B integration. In fact, over the next 12 months:

– 86 percent are planning to adopt a more diversified set of deployment models than in the past, including cloud, in-house and hybrid in-house-and-cloud approaches

– 29 percent will consume more B2B integration from the cloud than they used to

Most of the businesses surveyed are considering alternative deployment options, such as taking a hybrid approach or adopting cloud technologies, which provide a flexible approach to their integration needs. On average:

– 46 percent say that they want ‘to consolidate legacy point B2B integration infrastructure solutions to a single, shared B2B integration platform able to meet all [their] business requirements’

– 42 percent want to deploy more cloud-based B2B integration solutions

– 32 percent say they will use a hybrid model more than they used to

Cost reduction is the foremost business driver influencing organisations to take a strategic approach to B2B integration.

When asked what business drivers were making respondents re-think their B2B integration strategy, on average:

– 52 percent of companies interviewed cited the ‘need to reduce the cost of the way [they] do B2B integration today’

– 51 percent of companies cited savings to be made through ‘greater awareness of the business impact (proven ROI) of automating B2B document exchange’

Businesses need agile B2B infrastructures to succeed in the current, fragile economic recovery

As economies recover from the financial downturn, businesses face increased demand for B2B services from a complex and diverse global network of business partners, as they seek new customers in new markets. To deal with this rising complexity, companies need to rethink their B2B strategies. The survey found that:

– 92 percent of businesses are expecting the same or higher revenues than last year

– 42 percent of businesses expect to exchange an increased number of documents with their trading partners compared to last year

– 86 percent of businesses say B2B integration is important to the success of their organisation, calling it ‘important’, ‘critical’ or a ‘core competency’

Because B2B Integration is so important, companies are re-thinking their B2B integration strategies — but almost half are still taking a tactical approach

Businesses are recognising the benefits of taking a strategic, holistic approach to B2B integration. Maintaining multiple point solutions is costly as each technology point requires its own management resource. However, many are still taking a tactical approach.

– 58 percent take a strategic view and say they ‘formulated a strategy and implemented a comprehensive B2B integration solution to meet [their] business requirements’

– However, the remaining respondents (42 percent) are taking a tactical approach and say they ”add technology point solutions as customers need” or “as required by the business”

Quotes
“If companies adopt a tactical approach to implementing B2B integration solutions, they will end up with multiple point solutions that add cost and will forego a solution that will provide the organisational agility required to stay ahead in today’s competitive climate. The companies still taking a tactical approach will be left behind, while their more innovative competitors reap the benefits of flexible, more agile and faster business.”

“The technology driver—the ability to deploy more cloud-based B2B integration (either stand-alone or as part of a hybrid solution) – will enable companies engaged in rethinking their B2B Integration strategically, to incorporate the flexibility and agility they need to succeed in the current climate of economic recovery.”

“B2B integration isn’t new, so why rethink your B2B integration strategy now when companies have been doing eCommerce projects involving EDI the same way for over 30 years? it’s needed because new B2B projects involve SOA and cloud technologies. And, the new drivers for these projects range from supporting the extension of a global value chain into emerging markets to meeting cross border e-Invoicing requirements that those 30-year old systems can’t handle. Rethinking your B2B integration strategy to create an agile B2B Integration infrastructure is more critical than ever before.” Dave Carmichael, manager, B2B integration at Sterling Commerce an IBM Company

“Manufacturing suppliers’ business survival will depend on their ability to provide B2B integration as part of their customer service. Our customers are looking to keep stocks low and inventory moving. Every day we deal with order, inventory, delivery and supply chain issues that can only work effectively through automation.” Eric Lafarge, chief information officer at Albéa

“Sterling Commerce B2B integration solutions ensure that HZMO is fully compliant with data integration standards required by the multiple financial institutions with which we deal, but more importantly, enables our partner agencies to use whatever protocol they want. This is important for us in this difficult economic climate – we can’t expect our partners to invest in new software to be compatible with us. With Sterling Commerce B2B integration solutions, they can receive the data we send them without any upgrades to their systems.” Sanja Grković-Hrabar, IT Systems & Communications Department, HZMO