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Leveraging the Cloud for B2B Integration Excellence

The business-to-business (B2B) economy is one of the great force multipliers of the global financial value chain. From original manufacturing source to subassembly throughout multiple stops in the distribution channel before it reaches the ultimate consumer, goods and services must pass through multiple points—and data must travel with it seamlessly, reliably and securely.

But B2B processes have become more challenging by a host of business, regulatory and consumption factors. Fortunately, a number of B2B integration services have helped to smooth the rough edges and enable tighter links throughout the supply chain. And cloud computing is a huge leverage point making B2B smoother, more efficient and more reliable.

With cloud services optimized for integrating B2B activities, organizations can harmoniously collaborate on everything from identifying emerging customer needs to ensuring every supplier along the way gets paid on time and the right amount. Whether B2B companies select a public cloud, a private cloud or, more likely in today’s environment, a hybrid cloud, organizations are reducing total cost of ownership, taking manual steps out of B2B transactions and ensuring that all security and regulatory compliance guidelines are met.

With the vast majority of goods and services now passing through multiple points along the supply chain, enterprises need to connect and collaborate securely with each other. At the same time, they must ensure full visibility and control over processes that link multiple outside vendors, suppliers and distribution partners. Of course, this complicated value chain has the potential to add complexity and cost to the equation, particularly as organizations grow organically or, more and more often, through mergers and acquisitions that result in multiple, redundant systems.

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That’s where the beauty of the cloud comes into play. Using cloud services for B2B integration helps tamp down Capex by shifting much of the infrastructure investment to the cloud service provider, substituting Capex costs for predictable Opex that can be increased or decreased as conditions warrant. It also helps organizations manage their risk exposure by working with a cloud partner that has an ongoing commitment to—and ability to handle—ever-changing security threat vectors.

Using cloud services for B2B integration—everything from order management and invoice processing to compliance audits, security management and trading partner systems—provides essential agility, flexibility and scalability to B2B systems that are becoming bigger, wider, deeper and more complex. The right cloud services partner also can bring to bear the necessary skills and experience to ensure that cloud-based integration services are tightly integrated with legacy on-premises applications that may not be appropriate to move to the cloud—at least not immediately.

IBM has been in the forefront of both cloud computing and B2B integration services, and it offers a number of highly targeted cloud services to integrate the B2B business processes in an efficient, secure and cost-effective manner.

For instance, IBM Sterling B2B Collaboration Network securely integrates electronic data interchange data, applications and services among organizations and their many business partners on a global basis. It works seamlessly across cloud, on-premises or business partner infrastructure. And IBM Partner Engagement Manager helps control complexity among an enterprise’s business partner and supplier relationships. It increases visibility into activities across those relationships to improve functions such as partner onboarding, collaboration and communication, all with a keen eye toward security, governance, compliance and risk management.

For more information on how IBM’s cloud services can enhance your B2B integration efforts, please visit https://www.ibm.com/watson/supply-chain/campaigns/move-b2b.

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