Once again, with the sudden arrival of the new omicron variant, Covid-19 continues to challenge businesses and society with supply chain disruption.
To survive, and meet customer expectations, companies know they must leverage technology to gain control over uncertainty, but how?
As I explain further in my latest Forbes Technology Council article about Ecosystem Integration, the key to outsmarting unpredictability is having organizational agility – the ability of a business to make informed decisions quickly and turn on a dime.
As business leaders, we’re called to act on the opportunity today’s unprecedented situations present. And it’s not just Covid-19; we’re also dealing with fires, hurricanes, lockdowns, inflation, geopolitical strife, societal disruption, materials shortages, labor disputes, and more.
All of these are impacting supply chains.
In the past decade, the proliferation of digital marketplaces has caused the adoption of front-end cloud solutions, like Shopify and Magento, to boom. But back-end fulfillment and logistics -- let’s call it “B2B eCommerce” -- remains extremely problematic.
Internally, front ends aren’t adequately connected to back-end systems of record, such as ERP, TMS, or WMS systems.
And externally, relative to most companies’ core revenue-critical end-to-end businesses processes (e.g., order to cash, procure to pay, load tender to invoice), the many entities comprising a company’s business ecosystem are not integrated either.
Data synchronization and business process orchestration must be improved.
But where to begin?
To even be a contender in today’s world of eCommerce-driven digital transformation, a company needs outstanding supply chain integration processes that are flexible and responsive enough to ensure the greatest control over uncertainty.
Because it is here, at every B2B connecting point, where the rise of APIs (application programming interfaces) is taking the world by storm, given the rapid rise of the cloud.
You will never be agile if you’re building connections from scratch every time you launch a new business relationship.
You are not agile if you depend too much on a single-source supplier. And you are not agile if you are not doing integration in the cloud.
There’s a reason why the most agile companies today are industry leaders – think Amazon, Walmart, Uber or Zoom -- while any company that is not agile is gone, struggling financially or at risk of extinction (e.g., Sears, Toys ‘R Us, or Bloomingdale’s).
If you want your business to effectively sense and respond to disruption and uncertainty, then first your supply chain integration capabilities must be able to accommodate both API and EDI integration at every connecting point across your ecosystem.
Because while the use of APIs is rapidly proliferating in the cloud B2B world, EDI remains the de facto integration standard, though its dominance is diminishing.
Thus, any forward-looking integration solution worth its salt today must be able to handle both API and EDI integration as situations warrant, ideally from a single cloud integration platform.
This is precisely what Cleo Integration Cloud does.
Our goal is to make your entire ecosystem as dynamic and responsive as possible. As our 4,000+ customers can attest, a flexible supply chain integration layer can yield organizational agility that puts your business back in control over today’s uncertain, unpredictable world. I hope you enjoy my latest Forbes article about Ecosystem Integration, and as always I welcome your comments.