The Supply Chain Embraces B2B Integration in 2010

by Paul Lavery
Director – Solutions Enablement, Supply Chain

We’re well into the second quarter of 2010, and at least one thing is clear—lack of visibility is the prime driver for the supply chain embracing B2B integration this year. Companies have a much better handle on the “operational basics” as it relates to supply chain information. The problem is getting a more advanced and predictive forecasting with that information. Supply chain departments and standards groups have been banging away at these concepts for years (and perhaps, in some cases and vertical industries, decades). Fully loaded software solutions are now coming online to provide better visibility into supply chain data health. That includes both transactional and operations information.

But here are the missteps I see being made:

  • Overinvesting in EAI (internal integration projects). Grant it, however, that web services is beginning to open that up a bit, and that will help provide a more cost-effective path going forward.
  • Staying with and continuing investments in legacy technology from legacy B2B integration service providers. How many times can those players repackage the same thing and, in some cases, charge even more than before? What a terrible cycle of inefficiency and expense!
  • Thinking that solutions have to come in large monolithic delivery models. Whether that’s from an on-premise or cloud set up. Composite structures deployed on a priority basis will be the norm going forward. This is going to be a prerequisite for any agile supply chain.

To ensure that they’re maintaining the right level of security, companies need to embrace MFT for B2B and use a “gateway” approach to managed file transfer (MFT) of information outside the four walls. They need to handle more interactions within their growth area in terms of IT project work. And they need to provide a central point to ensure that files are secure. Now that’s a solid internal value point! And in some industries (e.g., healthcare), it’s far more than a value point: it’s a mandate for doing business, period.

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