Overcoming the 10 most common B2B integration mistakes

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As organizations embrace IT modernization and digital transformation strategies to improve relationships with partners, suppliers and customers, many of them deprioritize integration. Such organizations often become so enamored with the cloud, APIs, iPaaS and all the other buzzy technology terms that they forget just how important integration – namely, B2B integration – is to driving business value.

Due to this widespread deprioritization, traditional integration practices often lack the modern considerations necessary to enable positive business outcomes. That’s because B2B integration is more than just EDI, data movement, data transformation or whatever other standalone capabilities vendors are peddling.

It’s all these things, and it’s the cog that connects the business with IT, that seamlessly integrates business ecosystems, and that enables successful, lucrative relationships. It’s the technology that provides comprehensive visibility into important data transactions, surfaces valuable business intelligence and empowers enhanced decision-making. In short, efficient B2B integration is your competitive business advantage.

In the era of the cloud, companies are discovering that elegant integration is imperative if they’re to keep pace with a rapidly expanding digital business landscape. And they’re fast realizing the limitations of many incumbent solutions.

Common Approaches to Integration

The ability to electronically communicate with other organizations has been a need for decades, but communication hasn’t always been pretty. Here are some ways businesses have tried to address digital connectivity and B2B integration:

  • Outsource B2B integration to an EDI VAN provider
  • Invest in software, hardware and the resources to deploy and maintain integration
  • Build and sustain integrations in-house
  • Buy an enterprise iPaaS, then customize it for growing B2B integration needs

While these approaches might have been the right option (and sometimes, the only option) at the time, they limit how enterprises can integrate their ecosystems today.

Typical Shortfalls in B2B Integration Technologies

Here are 10 challenges with traditional B2B integration solutions and why these gaps affect your ability to create business value. Too often, these tools:

1. Are intimidating: Too many integration solutions are riddled with detailed technical language. A smarter technology provides the relevant content that all stakeholders can interact with and act on.

2. Are inefficient: With ecosystems pushing thousands or even millions of transactions a day, integration should surface relevant information in an easy-to-find way.

3. Lack business content: Transparency into transactional content – whether it’s a large order, an important customer, or even new customer – helps users better understand the business impact of the data being mined.

4. Lack business context: Looking at documents individually, outside the context of the process. A B2B integration platform should provide appropriate context, including when an order is part of a larger workflow.

5. Are opaque: Modern integration technology provides enhanced communication transparency for error resolution, where the user can drill into a document, see an error, and communicate with the support team, all within the context of the file.

6. Have few business controls: It’s important that B2B integration enables precise control of all the views that matter to a business. Integration technology comes up short in providing relevant controls for stakeholders outside IT who may need access.

7. Lack collaboration tools: If you and a new partner could know when support is needed along the onboarding process, you could act more quickly. You’d also develop a reputation as an organization that’s easy to do business with.

8. Provide poor insights: Modern integration highlights the impact of an organization’s B2B transactions, showing not just how much traffic is flowing, but what that traffic means to the business.

9. Lack rich interactions: Users get frustrated quickly when they are unable to choose what they see and how they see it. Modern B2B integration should allow people to look at the big and small pictures and customize reports for each.

10. Lack personalized content: Many tools fail to provide a range of content or visibility for different user personas. CEOs require different reporting views than EDI managers and need personalized information accordingly.

These things keep businesses from realizing their full potential, but the tide is turning. As organizations further understand the value B2B integration technology can deliver to their IT modernization initiatives, they are demanding more of their solutions and vendors.

The pitfalls of B2B integration technologies are becoming more evident as our digital business journeys progress. A more comprehensive integration approach will support all the ways organizations connect and exchange data and provide visibility into those B2B processes. These processes are an important part of the larger business scope, and integration brings that scope into focus, adding increased value to the digitally transformed business.

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