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SOA - Integration Industry Pulse

Beth Gold-Bernstein

EDI Still Dominant in B2B

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Despite the advances in B2B integration technologies such as XML, a recent Forrester report by Ken Vollmer showed that EDI still accounts for 85-90% of B2B transactions. However, the growth projections of other forms of B2B including stateful and stateless XML is expected to grow faster than EDI. Surprisingly, the survey indicated that 61% of respondent trade electronically with less than 10% of their customers. This is due to the fact that cost of EDI prohibited it being implemented with the smaller partners, suppliers and customers. However, time and resources for remediating errors of manual transactions is motivating companies to take a more comprehensive approach to their B2B solutions. Generally speaking, manual transactions are an order of magnitude more expensive to process than automated transactions.

I spoke to Ryan Kraudel, Director of B2B Managed Services for GXS about the survey. GXS has 35,000 customers, including 70% of the Fortune 500. Kraudel indicated that one of the biggest areas of growth he is seeing is an outsourced B2B offering. The GXS service includes a subscription to a multi-tenant SaaS platform along with services to enable trading partner on-boarding, which can include a portal, web interfaces, as well as direct system to system integration. The offering includes process automation and provides end-to-end transaction visibility, including all the related documents to each transaction.

Kraudel indicated GXS is seeing a lot of interest in this offering from companies going through an ERP upgrade or implementation which requires redoing all the B2B integration maps. Outsourcing the B2B mapping lets the company focus on the internal aspects of the ERP project. It also enables companies to upgrade to new standards and technologies without having to implement all new technology. Kraudel claims that GXS customers who outsource their B2B implementation average 30-40% cost savings, and report up to a 60% increase in customer satisfaction. GXS also has 80% of the world's logistics providers connected into the trading grid. GXS adds a layer of visibility across the logistics, and enables elimination of the manual processes in the supply chain and trading partner interactions.

As companies move toward more SOA environments, they can more easily integrate directly into their system of record, which are generally ERP systems. The hosted offering also provides a high level of security, which is an essential component for engendering trust between partners. The platform offers certificate management and brokering of certificates, as well as process certification required for compliance.

GXS also provides dashboards and SLA visibility. The online interface allows subscribers to see if some transactions are slowing down, as well as where in the process the slowdown is occurring. There are both reactive and proactive support levels. The standard reactive level is a support desk. Proactive support includes transaction monitoring and management of all alerts and exceptions. Future plans include the ability to enable customers to create their own dashboards based on KPIs that could be different across different parts of the business, and the ability to provide predictive capabilities within the dashboards.

While EDI continues to dominate B2B today, moving forward customers are demanding more Web 2.0 functionality, as well as the ability to connect more trading partners and increase the percentage of automated transactions to dramatically decrease costs. Especially in the B2B space the SaaS delivery model seems a very logical choice to enable an evolutionary approach.

Industry trends and vendor spotlights from Beth Gold-Bernstein.

Beth Gold-Bernstein

Beth Gold-Bernstein is a recognized expert in integration technologies and SOA with over 20 years experience View more

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