With enterprises aiming for bigger markets with new business models adhering to government regulations, partner credibility has gained more importance. This makes it mandatory for a B2B integration product to provide features in the areas of security, data transparency, self-service, partner collaboration, custom query/reporting, operational analytics, audit readiness and industry regulatory compliance.
The best way to scale the existing B2B products to provide the above-mentioned features is by leveraging technology trends like Cloud hosting, API Integration, blockchain, etc. This will counter the risk of a full-fledged migration to another product, cuts the associated costs, and ensures smoother business-as-usual operations.
Leveraging blockchain for modern B2B scenarios
Out of the many technology trends which can positively influence the B2B technology landscape, blockchain stands out with few trademark features like fault-tolerance, security and traceability. Adoption of this technology will enable the above mentioned features for the modern B2B product.
A B2B chain is made of multiple parties contributing to the information flow at different points in time. In a traditional B2B approach, each party has its own mechanism for information flow and tracking. Also, the process of data processing and communication is mostly batch driven. Blockchain provides a holistic approach to multi-party transaction processing where the functions of data processing and communication are performed by a single system. In addition, ‘distributed ledger’ in blockchain can bring in a ‘shared state’ visibility among all the stakeholders of a trading partner network, thereby remediating the exceptions as they arise.
Blockchain could record supplemental events, such as those provided by IoT and smart devices, and provide a more detailed and synthesized record of all information flows. The actual exchange of B2B documents that occurs today can continue to operate as is, and a blockchain could simply add a shared visibility ‘overlay.’
Few interesting B2B use cases with blockchain
Supply chain visibility
Today, visibility in EDI relies heavily on functional acknowledgements. With blockchain, transparency, auditability and visibility is enabled to all participants in a supply-chain network. This will eliminate the need for functional acknowledgements. It will also safeguard the sequence of the transactions in a particular business process. Furthermore, new transactions will be validated in real-time by smart contract rules, which would reduce or maybe eliminate any exceptions altogether.
EDI data reliability & anonymity
A blockchain validates all the data by default. In its decentralized model, no single register has control of the blockchain. Taking the example of a B2B supply chain scenario, data consumers interact with the blockchain directly through apps and data providers record metadata on the blockchain independently.