Technology convergence is a phenomenon which combines two or more different technologies in a single device. A “Smartphone” is a good example in this regard. By eliminating the need of dedicated devices such as pagers, PDA, camera, video-recorders and computers, it provides simplicity and convenience. Similarly, businesses are getting consolidated and closely integrated globally. Integration has become an essential and ongoing process to have a competitive edge in today’s dynamic market conditions.
Few decades ago, integration of businesses with their trading partners meant automation of data exchange between enterprises and processing of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) documents. This automation streamlined operations, reduced manual errors, and improved quality of service while constricting the cost. To successfully integrate with their trading partners, businesses used a variety of systems such as EDI translators, VAN (Value Added Network), AS2 (ApplicabilityStatement2) component, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers, encryption modules, proxy servers etc. Businesses fostered competitive edge by reducing their cycle time also.
However, over the years, all these systems converged together into a Business To Business gateway to fully integrate an enterprise. These gateways typically act as the interface to an independent entity who is trying to connect with us. At a later stage, Managed File Transfer (MFT) came into picture to cater to the exchange of large files.
The recent wave of integrations however, attempts to make the B2Bgateway an integral capability of a larger integration suite. Businesses integrated with B2B platforms whereas applications integrated through A2A platforms. These two platforms are now unifying for an end-to-end integration solution, offering several benefits:
1. Cost reduction through infrastructure, hardware, software, skills and vendor consolidations
2. Improved traceability of transaction life cycle and reduced complexity of troubleshooting improves the visibility into business processes
3. Quicker identification of bottlenecks and faster issue resolutions
4. Streamlined and simplified data and workflows help improve business operations and reduce cost impacts without compromising business objectives
5. Intelligent process integration to alter process flows dynamically based on KPI (key performance indicator) status and to monitor business critical junctures in the process flow
6. Increased collaboration through business activity monitoring to take care of business critical moments in the absence of timely monitoring and decision making
7. Empowering partners by exposing enterprise API (Application Programming Interface) to business partners and implementing SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)governance that enables them to effectively manage changes and dependencies
8. Collaborating B2B technologies with SMAC [social media, mobile, analytic and cloud]integration design
9. Leveraging Complex Event Processing (CEP) to identify and process the events generated due to business fluctuations
The convergence of these B2B and A2A for an entirely integrated solution leads to a consolidated environment which derives high value for the customers. Product vendors are already consolidating their B2B and A2A platforms to be ahead of the curve and drive their business value. What other trends have you noticed in the business integration space?