In recent blogs, we’ve covered B2B integration and the essential role it plays in the digital transformation programs of the vast majority of organizations. In this blog, we’re going to look at B2B Managed Services and why an increasing number of large enterprises are turning to an outsourced approach to meet their B2B integration and digital transformation goals.
OpenText and IDC recently surveyed senior executives from large companies worldwide and found that 66 percent were considering using an outsourced approach to B2B integration so that they can focus their internal resources on new digital transformation initiatives. In fact, 31 percent of respondents said that a lack of internal resources – often diverted to manage B2B integration infrastructure – was limiting their execution of new digital transformation projects. The fact is that the complexity of a modern B2B integration solution makes internal management costly and resource hungry.
Every year there are billions of B2B transactions passing between companies, their customers, suppliers and partners – the OpenText™ B2B integration platform alone handles over 24 billion transactions annually. You have to support different document types, communication protocols, industry regulations and trading mandate from your customers. And, the business and technology requirements of B2B integration are constantly changing.
Let’s look at a single B2B transaction by way of example. Analyst firm EY surveyed the state of eInvoicing globally in 2018 and found that, of the 82 countries they surveyed, 10 mandated the use of eInvoicing and a further 47 had regulations governing its use. A large company with global reach has to be able to meet all these separate regulatory requirements. Outsourcing to a B2B Managed Services provider – with the technical and business skills required – becomes an attractive prospect.
What’s the difference between B2B Managed Services and B2B Integration?
Put simply, B2B integration is the techniques and technologies that enable a company to digitally trade with its partners. B2B Managed Services is the process of outsourcing the daily management of your B2B integration infrastructure to a trusted third party provider. The best B2B Managed Services providers deliver a range of technical, business and consultancy services to ensure that you maximize your investment in B2B integration.
What are the drivers for B2B Managed Services?
As with any other area of IT, moving from an internal to outsourced model for your B2B integration requirements is a major strategic move. There are eight key drivers that often motivate companies to transition to B2B Managed Services:
Digital transformation and business modernization
For digital transformation to be successful, you need the resources in place to manage your B2B integration platform and network of trading partners, while introducing new digital technologies to your organization. This frequently requires modernizing your B2B capabilities. A B2B Managed Services environment provides a highly available, state-of-the-art cloud-based B2B infrastructure, and the necessary resources and personnel to support your digital transformation initiatives.
All IT departments are being pressured to do more with diminishing budgets. Moving to B2B Managed Services offers cost reductions in two main areas: technology and infrastructure costs and internal staffing costs. Ovum research suggests that companies can save up to 40 percent annually compared to running B2B operations internally.
Customer and supplier integration
The goal today has to be the 100% digital enablement of your trading community. This requires that you support the incredibly complex environment of customer mandates, document types, standards, communications protocols and regulations that are involved in the effective B2B operations of any trading partner network. B2B Managed Services gives you access to the skilled resources and technology platform that can help you connect and trade effectively with partners anywhere in the world.
New markets and channels
Your company needs the flexibility and agility to seize new market opportunities as they arise. B2B Managed Services is very often the ideal route to entering new markets as the B2B provider already has an established trading network within your target location or market. It can provide an immediate footprint in the regions where you’re expanding – with B2B specialists who understand the technical, business, and regulatory requirements.
Mergers & acquisitions/Divestitures
The sale of a company or business unit raises issues in terms of customer and community management, and IT services for both the seller and the purchaser. You must achieve business continuity while transitioning business processes, data, people and IT systems. B2B Managed Services can play two key roles: It is an interim solution through the transition period to ensure business continuity. Secondly, it allows the acquiring organization to upgrade to the latest B2B integration infrastructure and systems without significant investment or increasing internal headcount.
ERP upgrade and consolidation
Whether upgrading to the latest version of your chosen system or consolidating multiple instances into a single, central deployment, ERP programs are amongst the biggest and most complex projects that IT departments undertake. B2B Managed Services allows you to free internal resources for this strategic initiative while the service provider can use its B2B environment to ’quarantine’ external data to ensure the quality of data entering your new ERP systems.
A B2B Managed Services provider gives you immediate access to all the skills required while removing the concerns over global support and maintenance issues. It allows you to re-assign your own IT staff onto higher value activities while ensuring that you have the right level of B2B skills available when you need them.
Companies are looking toward increased centralization and consolidation in areas such as B2B integration to drive business agility. It enables rapid growth without the expense of re-inventing or extending back-office functions. By consolidating onto a single B2B infrastructure, managed by a single global B2B Managed Service provider, you can ensure you receive the highest level of service. What is more, the provider’s service always operates on the latest B2B technologies so you benefit from the latest developments without significant investment.
What are the features of B2B Managed Services?
To better understand the key capabilities of B2B Managed Services, we will examine how the best B2B Managed Services providers deliver all of the key capabilities outlines in our earlier blog on B2B integration. To meet your business requirements, B2B Managed Services delivers the following components:
Global system management
You outsource all the day-to-day management of your B2B infrastructure. The B2B Managed Services provider hosts your B2B operation on its data centers. The provider delivers all the services needed to ensure you have the highest levels of availability and system performance. You can select from full cloud-based B2B Managed Services, an on-premise deployment or a hybrid approach to best meet your business requirements.
Mapping and translation
You have access to a team with highly specialist skills to manage all the data mapping and translation tasks, perform change management and resolve any implementation issues. With experience of the widest range of document format, standards and protocols, the time taken to trade with partners is significantly reduced.
Visibility, alerting and analytics
As all you B2B transactions pass over the service provider’s B2B Integration platform, you gain far greater visibility across your B2B processes. Advanced analytics ensures that you can optimize you key processes, better predict customer demand and drive supplier performance. Real time alerting and reporting allows for proactive issue resolution to minimize system downtime and business disruption.
Your B2B Managed Services provider can rapidly onboard new partners. It can create, implement and test maps and web forms, as well as communicate with and educate your partners on the new B2B integration platform.
Data & Process intelligence
The service provider improves data quality and business process integrity by automatically monitoring inflight data and identifying errors within individual transactions and across long running business processes.
Enterprise application integration
You can access a range of services for enterprise application integration–from complex document mapping to managing business partner relationships to ensuring end-to-end implementation testing. The most common type of enterprise integration is for ERP systems. However, leading service providers can deliver native integration into EIM, CRM, WMS and a range of supply chain applications.
Global program management
You have access to a pool of talent whose sole responsibility is managing B2B programs. Your service delivery managers will work closely with you to ensure implementation success. Dedicated and customized support is delivered by B2B experts throughout the full lifecycle of your B2B program.
24×7 Monitoring and support
With B2B Managed Services, you will receive a dedicated helpdesk and support team to proactively monitor all processes and transactions that flow through your B2B integration operations. Leading providers deliver advanced services such as translation monitoring, exception management and incident management.
By combining these operational capabilities, you are able to achieve end-to-end management of all your B2B activities. So, what benefits should you expect when transitioning to B2B Managed Services?
What are the benefits of B2B Managed Services?
There is a wide range of cost, business and operational benefits from moving to B2B Managed Services. These include:
Lower your investment risk
By moving from Capital Expenditure (Capex) to Operational Expenditure (Opex). B2B Managed Services ensures that the cost of your B2B operations become a predictable expense, through monthly subscription fees that are usually clearly linked to the volume of transactions being processed or network capacity used.
Minimize infrastructure costs
B2B Managed Services lets you leverage the existing infrastructure of your chosen provider. This means there’s minimal capital investment in technology or new staff and skills when developing or expanding your B2B capability. Leveraging the provider’s infrastructure also delivers the bottom-line benefits of your B2B integration program—such as savings on transaction handling costs and fewer errors in transactions—within months rather than years.
Get paid faster
B2B Managed Services help replace paper-based documents with digital business process and increase visibility across your supply chain. By reducing the errors and accelerating the exchange of key business documents, you can speed up your order-to-cash and procure-to-pay processes to get paid faster and boost revenues.
Improve customer satisfaction
By reducing errors, ensuring on-time and accurate orders, improving inventory management, B2B Managed Services helps you to enhance your customer experience. It allows you to better serve your customers and build lasting, profitable relationships.
Shield yourself from B2B complexity
B2B integration standards constantly evolve, business partners refresh their technology according to their own schedules, your business wins new customers, and you work with new suppliers. B2B Managed Services insulates you from this ongoing technical complexity of connecting and working with your trading partners.
Deliver rapid implementation
B2B Managed Services enables rapid rollout of your B2B integration solutions, whether you want to extend digital trading to more of your existing business partners, take on new customers or suppliers, or expand into new geographies.
Accelerate your business growth
To take advantage of new market opportunities or quickly respond to business disruptions requires a highly available, flexible, and global B2B integration infrastructure that can support end-to-end B2B operations. B2B Managed Services offers dedicated community management services to help onboard and manage your business partners quickly and effectively.
Future-proof your B2B operations
B2B Managed Services providers are committed to continually improving the B2B capabilities and service levels they offer. The result is that you always have access to the latest and most advanced B2B capabilities – without the cost or delay often experienced when updating internal systems.
Boost compliance, minimize risk
B2B Managed Services gives you access to knowledge and experience of handling and supporting country and industry-specific documents such as customs or hazardous materials declarations. Your provider ensures compliance with industry standard and regulations globally in a way that would be virtually impossible for your company.
Selecting a B2B Managed Services provider
There are a number of elements to consider when selecting your B2B Managed Services provider. In addition to offering the technical infrastructure needed to handle high volumes of B2B transactions securely and the ability to meet your business requirements, you must ensure that the provider is a good cultural fit for your organization. Here are some questions you could ask:
- Does the provider have a global infrastructure that lets you connect to customers and suppliers anywhere in the world?
- Do they support the broadest range of B2B translation and communication standards as well as integration mechanisms for enterprise applications?
- Will their solution protect your existing B2B investments while letting you outsource as little or as much as is correct for your business?
- Do they support the correct range of community management activities such as new partner ramping, synchronizing of inventory data or access to up-to-date product catalogues?
- Do they have the program and technical capabilities for initial implementation, change management and on-going support in all the regions that you operate?
- Is their support available in the native languages of your customers and trading partners?
- Does their B2B integration platform facilitate local trading law and regulation compliance?
- Can you scale your service upwards and downwards quickly?
- Can they supply cloud-based, on-premise and hybrid deployments?
- Is every part of their service covered by Service Level Agreement?
Why choose OpenText for B2B Managed Services?
OpenText is recognized as the world leader in B2B integration and B2B Managed Services. Each day, more than 600,000 trading partners rely on our B2B integration platform to quickly and securely exchange business documents. With the world’s largest B2B integration infrastructure, we’re able to deliver technology, business and partner management services globally in a way that almost no other provider can. This has led to the following industry recognition:
- Forrester names OpenText as a leader in B2B Business Networks 2017 to 2018
- Ovum places OpenText as a leader in B2B Integration Managed Services in 2017