B2B Services, H2H Interactions

by Paul French
VP, Product & Solutions Marketing
Axway

Two recent blog entries, one posted by Ken Vollmer on ComputerworldUK.com and the other posted by Nick Wingfield on the Wall Street Journal’s site, offered some keen observations on hosted solutions and the disparity between the at-home technology employees have and the at-work technology they’re required to use, respectively.

In the first article, Vollmer writes, “Five years ago, a lot of folks thought that the days of the providers of EDI document exchange services were numbered and that they would fade away into the sunset. But guess what – it didn’t happen. The main reason why it didn’t is that these vendors aggressively sought out new ways of providing advanced integration capability and services and bolstered their long term chances of survival in the process.”

He’s exactly right. The reports of the B2B service providers (i.e., VANS) have been extremely exaggerated. Unfortunately, the traditional outsourced EDI or VAN part of their business tends to be declining. The providers are offering interesting ways to try to provide other sorts of connectivity profiles to drive the use of those networks. Many providers have been successful, but there is a whole other class of cloud service providers that are providing these Platforms as a Service (PaaS), and that’s really where the market is going. It’s going to blur the line between who is a B2B service provider and who provides these interaction services on independent networks, shared networks, private networks, and certainly on the public networks. The lines will continue to be blurred in both how these services are delivered and what types of services are delivered.

In the next article, Wingfield writes: “When they get fed up with work technologies, employees often become digital rogues, finding sneaky ways to use better tools that aren’t sanctioned by the IT department.”

Companies are starting to let employees choose their own cell phones and OS platforms, and it’s a testament to the convergence that’s occurring between the enterprise and the consumer and all the different H2H interaction patterns that people use, whether that’s over traditional email or whether that’s over social, Web 2.0 collaboration scenarios—the Linkedins, Twitters, and Facebooks of the world. The article talks about how we don’t like the fact that at home we have the latest and greatest and fastest and at work we have to go sit down in front of a Flintstone’s terminal. People are going to find a way to work the way they want to work. Organizations have to give people the simple experience that they know and love (e.g. the email experience), and the sense that “my employer is giving me the tools I need to be successful.”  While giving the enterprise both the features and data security that they crave, it is possible to protect the needs and interests of the organization around data security and usability while giving employees the human workflow they’re hoping for. Why tie your employees’ hands when those are the very hands you pay to make you money?

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