How to choose the best B2B Integration software & cloud solutions in 2019

This is the 21st century. We can do incredible things with digital technologies. It’s transforming almost every part of business. Yet, research has shown that over 50% of information exchanged between business partners still travels by fax, email or phone rather than B2B integration technologies. B2B integration software and cloud solutions offer the ability to digitally transform your relationship with your trading partners. So, what should you look for in your B2B integration platform?

We all know that transacting business manually is slow, inefficient and prone to costly error. Anything that reduces that amount of manual input is going to be beneficial. And, what seem like small gains can have a major impact. For example, Billentis has shown organizations save up to $12.23 per electronic invoice. If you exchange one million invoices a year then trading just 1% more electronically saves you $122,300 per year. The best B2B integration solution enables you to gain far more than 1% improvements in many areas of your business.

What is B2B Integration software and cloud solutions?

During the Berlin Airlift, Army Master Sergeant Ed Guilbert had an enormous logistical challenge. To overcome this, Ed developed structured shipping manifest to help and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was born. Since then, EDI has developed to allow organizations of all sizes to digitally exchange an ever-greater array of business documents.

Building on the foundation of EDI, B2B integration has developed capabilities beyond document exchange. Over the years we have seen many advances in B2B integration concepts and architecture to facilitate changing business practices. Today, B2B integration software and cloud solutions have enabled organization to digitally transform their entire relationship with trading partners through features such as community management, process automation, supply chain visibility and operational insight.

As business becomes more reliant on complex supply chain networks and collaboration with customers and suppliers, the best B2B integration software and cloud solutions enable you to conduct business outside the four walls of your organization.

What are the features of B2B Integration software and cloud solutions?

There are many capabilities that the B2B integration software and cloud solutions you select should contain:

Information digitization

The first step is to remove paper-based processes. B2B integration tools help you digitize and make accessible all the information in all business documents including paper, fax and email. This data can then be integrated into your digital workflows and enterprise application to enable end-to-end digital business processes.

Order management

Implementing B2B integration software and cloud solutions provide visibility across two key supply chain processes: Order-to-Cash and Procure-to-Pay. By improving the speed and accuracy of data exchange and enhancing engagement at each stage of the process, it reduces costs while driving profitability.

Invoice management

The best B2B integration solutions include e-invoicing capabilities so that you can introduce digital invoicing across your entire operations to increase the efficiency of the process, speed to settlement of invoices and comply with growing government regulations worldwide.

Financial and Treasury management

Managing banking and financial services relationships is key for long-term business health. Treasury departments can find establishing effective payments solutions across all territories extremely challenging. B2B integration software and cloud solutions ease the process of integrating into the networks and business processes of banking partners.

Process and workflow management

The best B2B integration software and cloud solutions facilitate the end-to-end, secure flow of accurate and correct data into your digital workflows and enterprise applications. This enables you to automate more and more of your business and supply chain processes.

Community management

B2B integration software and cloud solutions can provide a single platform for communication and collaboration within your supplier and customer communities. It lets you manage all trading partner relationships to ensure your supply chains are performing well, customers are satisfied and your business complies with all customer mandates, industry standards and governmental regulations.

Managed file transfer

As time to market and product lifecycles shorten the need to quickly and securely share and collaborate on large files is essential. Many of the leading B2B integration solutions have Managed File Transfer (MFT) components that enable large data files–such as CAD files or video–to be quickly and securely delivered anywhere in the world.

Operational insight

As all data from your B2B operations passes over your B2B integration platform, you have unique access into key insights about how your company, its supply chain and your trading partner communities are performing. For many organizations, their B2B integration solution is the first time that they have this level of end-to-end visibility into their supply chain performance.

By combining these operational capabilities, you are able to achieve end-to-end management of all your B2B activities. However, it is important to consider that this is not just about B2B integration technologies and that the leading B2B providers should also be able to help you through access to B2B integration best practices and techniques.

What are the benefits of B2B Integration software and cloud solutions?

The base level value proposition of B2B Integration is to replace paper documents with electronic equivalents and gain advantages through speed of business and process automation. But there are many other benefits that modern B2B integration software and cloud solutions deliver:

  • Global connectivity with trading partners anywhere in the world
  • 100% trading partner enablement regardless of the size, internal resource or technical infrastructure of your trading partners
  • Improve supply chain management and drive supplier performance
  • Reduce the amount of inventory held within your supply chain
  • Gain end-to-end supply chain visibility
  • Enhance collaboration within your trading partner communities
  • Increase the quality of data within all your B2B transactions
  • Provide a ‘quarantine’ facility to stop bad data entering your enterprise process and applications
  • Gain flexibility and agility within trading partner relationships to encourage innovation and facilitate new market entry.

Selecting the best B2B Integration software and cloud solutions

Like any aspect of business, no two companies will have exactly the same requirements when dealing with trading partners. However, just as no two business requirements are alike, neither are two B2B integration platform packages–nor the providers who supply them. You need to carefully consider your business requirements when select your B2B integration platform.

That will extend beyond simple the technical capabilities of the B2B integration software and cloud solutions. You need to look at the help you need to implement and manage your solution and identify the B2B integration services that you need from your provider.

One of the most often overlooked elements of B2B integration is the importance that it has for your business. Very few organizations think of their B2B capabilities in the same way as they do about their ERP or finance packages. Yet business is become more focused on digital ecosystems and B2B integration is a foundational element in this.

You must ensure that the solution you select is future-proofed. You must be sure that their solution keeps pace with new B2B integration developments. It must also offer a smooth and secure transition path to allow you to change your B2B integration architecture so that you have the flexibility to choose from an on-premises, cloud or hybrid deployment. You can read a more in-depth discussion of the different B2B integration deployment options in our previous blog.

Selecting a B2B Integration software and cloud solutions vendor

Key considerations for selecting a B2B integration software and cloud solutions provider includes:

  • Does their software contain all the advanced B2B integration capabilities your business requires?
  • Does their software support the broadest range of B2B translation and communication standards?
  • Does their software enable you to connect with all your trading partners regardless of their technical infrastructure?
  • Does their software provide seamless and secure integration with your enterprise applications?
  • Does their software support a comprehensive range of community management capabilities?
  • Does their software have the capabilities to facilitate local trading law and regulatory compliance?
  • Does their software and solutions enable flexible B2B integration deployment, including on-premises, cloud and hybrid cloud?
  • Do they have global reach to provide the level of consultancy, services and support that you and your partners require?
  • Do they have the program and technical capabilities for initial implementation, change management and on-going support?

Why choose OpenText for B2B integration?

OpenText™ is a recognized as the world leader in B2B integration, incorporating leaders, Liaison, ANX, GXS and EasyLink, to offer the most comprehensive suite of B2B integration solutions available. Multi-national enterprises to SMB suppliers use our B2B integration platform around the globe every day.

OpenText B2B integration solutions include B2B managed services, integration software, cloud solutions, and SaaS applications for B2B transactions — all hosted and built on a global enterprise network, OpenText™ Trading Grid™. The Trading Grid features services such as message translation and data quality. Connecting to the Trading Grid gives your enterprise the power of the world’s largest electronic B2B community.

This has led to the following industry recognition:

  • Forrester names OpenText as a leader in B2B Business Networks 2017 to 2018
  • IDC named OpenText as a leader in the ‘Worldwide Multi-Enterprise Supply Chain Commerce Network’ market in 2018
  • Gartner places OpenText in the top five companies able to execute a multi-enterprise supply chain network business in 2018
  • Ovum places OpenText as a leader in B2B Integration Managed Services in 2017

In our next blog we’ll look in more depth at the key benefits and challenges involved when implementing a B2B integration solution.

J. Naomi Skinner

As Senior Manager, Product Marketing for OpenText Business Network, Naomi leads product marketing efforts for B2B integration including EDI with OpenText Trading Grid™ Messaging Service and OpenText™ Freeway. With 15 years experience in marketing across various industries, Naomi enjoys translating complex concepts into simple terms.

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