OpenText has been offering B2B Managed Services for more than 25 years. Over this time we have acquired other B2B integration providers and today we have over 850 companies using our B2B Managed Services environment.
Companies have various reasons why they outsource their B2B integration and over the years we have identified 8 key drivers for outsourcing, shown below. This includes B2B network consolidation, possibly as a result of a merger and acquisition strategy, ERP upgrade where internal IT resources need to focus on deploying a new ERP platform on time or simply being able to modernize legacy B2B infrastructures.
We have made significant investments in modernizing our global network of data centers and Trading Grid™ infrastructure to make sure that it can support today’s complex supply chain processes. We are able to leverage other technologies from our Enterprise Information Management (EIM) portfolio which is extensive, covering everything from content services, business process management and now advanced analytics capabilities with the Magellan machine learning platform. OpenText™ Business Network is able to leverage these technologies to bring new services and capabilities to our global network of customers.
Business Network is part of a broad portfolio of EIM solutions at OpenText and this portfolio is expanding year-on- year through an M&A strategy to enter new technology sectors and bolster existing technology capabilities. A good example of this is our acquisition of Covisint, a leading provider of identity and access management solutions, a comprehensive IoT platform and industry leading supplier portal for the automotive community. Adding IoT platform capabilities to our existing Business Network is perfectly timed as supply chains around the world start to invest in more connected technologies to help provide a deeper level of visibility across their supply chains.
In addition to recent M&A activities, Business Network has been investing in new innovations to the B2B Managed Services platform and I wanted to use the remainder of this blog to highlight some of these new capabilities.
- Trading partner graph – offers a visual ‘network’ environment to review how trading partners are connected across your supply chain. You can quickly see what type of B2B transactions are being exchanged and which communication protocol is being used to connect with each and every trading partner across your supply chain network.
- Self-service – allows companies to access and manage certain aspects of their B2B environment by themselves, for example updating trading partner profiles and ensuring contact information is up to date; updating cross reference tables or even communication certificates. This provides companies with increased flexibility, improved user experience and shortened time to value, especially across larger trading partner communities.
- Business event notifications – improves the management of exceptions by using event triggers to initiate a course of action directly into enterprise applications, for example you may not receive a purchase order by a certain time, rather than raising a non-delivery alert, you can systematically deliver an SAP IDOC status message.
- Auto-provisioning – accelerate the onboarding of large trading partner communities through an automated process which could, for example, extract trading partner information from a PDF attached to an email or extract trading partner details from a list of supplier names held in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
- Workflow automation – allows transaction flows to be aligned with business processes, for example a company could set up a complex invoice approval process whereby signatures are required for invoices over a certain value, invoices less than a certain value can be batched together for one click approval or alternatively re-route rejected invoices to a new department for processing.
- API and web services – leverage API and web services integration directly through OpenText Business Network rather than establishing multiple integrations, this allows companies to significantly accelerate the provisioning of API based services and shield companies from growing customer complexity and the proliferation of different APIs across the extended enterprise.
- Service level management – measures all services and communication options chosen by a customer, essentially allowing you to run a real-time health check on your B2B environment. Companies can measure the end-to-end performance of their B2B platform and it provides peace of mind that transactions are being exchanged in a timely manner with a trading partner community. Increased monitoring of a B2B platform allows exceptions to be proactively identified and they can be resolved in a much shorter time, helping to maximize the uptime of your B2B environment which ultimately helps to improve customer satisfaction.
- Operational Intelligence – leverages transaction based analytics to allow deep and meaningful insights to be obtained from the transactions flowing across your supply chain, reviewing for example volume of transactions by trading partner or leveraging information within each transaction to allow more proactive business decisions to be made.
In addition to the above enhancements being introduced to our B2B Managed Services platform, we also have access to some interesting technologies through our acquisition of Covisint, these include.
- Identity and Access Management – utilizes the identity and access management (IAM) technologies from Covisint to offer a federated, single sign on capability across enterprise systems. This allows you to control access from both internal users and external trading partners who may need to get access to ERP, Warehouse Management or Transport Management systems.
- IoT platform – Covisint offers extensive capabilities in the IoT space, especially relating to connected car based technologies. Moving forward we will be leveraging other EIM technologies to expand the capabilities of our IoT platform and looking to expand the range of devices or ‘things’ that we can connect with. Integrating Magellan into our IoT platform will help companies process historical sensor information as part of a predictive maintenance scenario.
So as you can see we have been busy over the past year or so and these new innovations help to provide customers with an industry leading B2B Managed Services environment. Not only that but these new capabilities help to underpin a digital foundation across today’s business environment, seamlessly connecting an external community of trading partners to your B2B environment and other enterprise systems such as ERP. Enabling this digital foundation is key to the success of today’s digital transformation strategies and whatever technologies are introduced over the coming years.
To learn more about B2B Managed Services, please take a look at our website.