Blog: Traditional Business Integration (B2Bi) Technology Lacks Efficiency

A B2B integration platform delivers greater efficiency when managing critical business integration processes.

With thousands and even millions of transactions flowing through your B2B integration system every day, it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. It’s less like trying to find a needle in a haystack and more like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles. It’s why a B2B integration platform, one that enables more efficiency when it comes to managing and viewing your EDI, B2B, and other business integration transactions, is more important than ever.

The fact is, B2B integration solutions traditionally don’t advocate efficiency when it comes to their reporting and dashboard functionalities. They were mostly designed to provide data – and perhaps unfortunately, all the data all at once.

Think about a time you might have returned an inbox full of emails after some extended time off. Days’ and even weeks’ worth of communications pile up, and sorting through thousands of direct messages, reply-alls, and forwards can be an overwhelming process. It must be done, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to start.

Most email solutions allow various sorting functions – by when it was received, by sender, by the high, low, or normal importance as deemed by the sender – to help you better digest and respond. You can even search keywords surrounding high-priority tasks and projects for faster location of the exact message you’re looking for.

But what if your email client automatically prioritized the messages that are most important to you and that require your immediate attention?

One common shortfall in current integration technology is the amount of time spent trying to find the information you’re looking for. At the scale and volumes that large enterprises conduct business, decreasing the time it takes to find that relevant information is critical. There’s got to be a more efficient way to view your important B2B interactions, act on them, and even find that single transaction when you need to, right?

There is, and it starts with a great user experience built on top of reliable business integration technology.

A Better B2B Experience

The recurring problem with B2B integration technology is that it’s not necessarily designed for a great user experience. It’s engineered to perform technical data movement and data transformation processes, which generally are overseen by IT folks running the solution, and the reporting and dashboards are too often the afterthought bolted on to give the boss something to look at.

A good user experience can generally be identified through a high value-to-effort ratio – the effort to find what you’re looking for is easy and worth the pursuit. A low value-to-effort ratio, then, means you’re expending more effort than the result is worth, which can have costly consequences within the B2B and cloud integration realm.

What happens, for instance, if you can’t efficiently resolve a transfer error on an important document, or you can’t figure out why a major retailer’s EDI orders aren’t coming through and why your invoices aren’t getting to them? Lack of insights and timely resolution of these issues often lead to missed SLAs, delayed cash flow, expensive chargebacks, and even a hit to your brand, which could result in additional lost revenue.

Modern organizations require broader context concerning these important data flows and require business-type users to have insights into processes like order to cash and load tender to invoice. Access to such data exchanges helps businesses understand their partner relationships and SLAs and extract value from information on revenue-driving workflows.

Viewing these transactions in an accessible way can lead to tremendous business insights from what’s been more or less untapped information. But it must be delivered efficiently for every type of user.

Improve Efficiency with B2B Integration as a Service

So how can business integration solutions help reduce inefficiencies for the business-level user and simultaneously, the IT user? Here are three ways B2B integration as a service contributes to a high value-to-effort ratio and improves efficiency for any persona:

  1. Show relevant information: Most top-level dashboards just present data, and the user is left to figure out how to make sense of it. Instead of inundating users with all the data at once, an efficient B2B integration platform discloses data pertinent to a user’s role in a progressive fashion and just enough of it for the user to determine a useful information journey through the system.
  2. Show the relationships: A business process is multiple transactions that are interconnected. An EDI capable organization’s typical X12 order-to-cash process, for example, includes an 850, 855, 856, 810, 820, and a number of 997s. Legacy B2B integration technologies often won’t indicate a document’s relationship within a larger business process, leaving user’s wasting value time scrambling to determine any upstream or downstream effects of a specific file transfer may trigger.
  3. Show the “wisdom”: Think of this as the “Recommendations” engine in Netflix or the “Customers Also Bought” section in Amazon. Too many dashboards only give information and leave the user to figure out how to use it. B2B integration platforms that display useful, contextual information – month-to-month or year-over-year percentage changes, for example – spare users’ the time and trouble of executing the intermediate steps to get those figures. A B2B integration platform, in a nutshell, should provide the wisdom that enables people to focus rather than infer.

Without an efficient B2B integration platform satisfying the appropriate data, knowledge, and wisdom needs that a modern organization requires, the solution only becomes a burden and unhelpful to the business.

Eliminate Wasted Time

Great business integration visibility tools try to anticipate what questions the user is trying to ask – what will they want to know. A good B2B integration UX, then must be an efficient one that eliminates wasted time and effort. No one wants to spend any more time navigating mountains of EDI and non-EDI data than they have to, and that’s one of the driving forces behind the advent of B2B integration as a service.

A B2B integration platform delivering a B2B-integration-as-a-service experience is designed for the modern business and for greater efficiency when managing your critical business integration processes. The service won’t bog you down with intimidating B2B interfaces, and it won’t bombard you with information that isn’t important.

A capable B2B integration offering bubbles up the most relevant, actionable information in an efficient manner, restoring visibility and agility surrounding your important B2B interactions.

In the next part of our blog series on the shortfalls of typical B2B integration technology, discover how typical solutions fail to deliver the appropriate business content – and context – within B2B transactions.

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