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Dealing with the Challenges of B2B Data Transformation

Much has been said about the data explosion, as huge volumes of new data are being created every day. While this has enriched many organizations from the standpoint of transforming how, when and where they use that information to make better decisions, it also has created big challenges in managing that data.

Industry standards have been a big step forward in helping to normalize data for many business-to-business (B2B) transactions. For instance, electronic data interchange (EDI) reshaped how organizations treated data within their supply chains and trading networks, to the point where EDI early adopters like Wal-Mart and Ingram Micro gained a substantial competitive advantage.

Particularly challenging is the reality that the transformation can be undermined by how organizations deal with the multitude of industry standards for data interchange so essential to B2B activities. Data not only is increasing in sheer volume, but also in velocity and, most important, in variety. No longer is all that data in the same format, making even well-established standards like EDI difficult to integrate across complex and fast-changing B2B networks.

Many industry standards like EDI, although established decades ago and long supported throughout the business community, are embedded into applications and processes that often are customized to unique requirements. Even more important, for those standards to enable true data transformation, they must be tightly integrated into back-end systems like order processing or inventory management.

This kind of “any-to-any” data transformation is typically based on mapping data across multitudes of documents and other data file types, such as invoices, order forms and web-based forms. In industries such as healthcare and financial services, which are bound by large numbers of often-changing regulations, it becomes even more challenging to keep track of all the data transformation even with the existence of broadly adopted industry standards.

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The vast majority of enterprises already are attempting to transform the bulk of their data, but most of them also believe they need to modernize their data transformation capabilities to better align with emerging business requirements and B2B trends. Increasingly, it has become clear to organizations that they need solutions to help them utilize data standards rather than continuing to rely on in-house-developed solutions, many of which end up with short shelf lives due to fast-changing standards and B2B processes.

In this dynamic environment marked by constant data expansion and tricky changes to industry standards, organizations need tools to help them automate data validation and transformation across many different standards and formats.

IBM has used its decades-long leadership role in a wide range of industry standards development efforts in the creation of IBM Transformation Extender. Formerly known as IBM WebSphere Transformation Extender, the product supports B2B transactions across many suppliers and partners on a global basis by providing a single, universal transformation solution to mitigate the need for multiple data transformation tools.

It also can be deployed across multiple IT infrastructure frameworks, either on premises or any type of public, private or hybrid cloud. In keeping with IBM’s long commitment to industry standards, IBM Transformation Extender supports most data transformation standards, whether required for customers’ unique transaction flow or regulatory requirements.

For more information on how IBM can enhance your organization’s B2B integration transformation and standardization, please visit https://www-01.ibm.com/software/commerce/b2b/b2b-integration/gateways.

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