60% of banks think combining data—remittance, EDI, electronic invoicing, payment processing—is an important trend. Only 47% are pursuing this approach.
Being able to implement the latest technologies will ensure you future-proof your business in order to adapt, scale and withstand an intense competitive and global business landscape. Realizing this doesn’t always mean that you can do it…alone.
We have all felt the pains of being a step behind new technology─be it a new smartphone, laptop, business operating system or even your company’s B2B integration platform. Aging technology can slow you down personally, but it can also potentially cripple your business. However, a “rip and replace” strategy of critical systems has been proven over and over to be disruptive to the business and a sure way to destroy productivity while wasting time and money. Instead many organizations today are exploring options for modernizing and revitalizing critical business applications and B2B investments in order to meet current and future business needs.
Estimates suggest upgrading and modernizing your current applications can be one tenth the cost of replacing them. Modernization makes more than financial sense. It makes business sense that if the application functions effectively, it remains in place as long as it meets three criteria: It does not place a heavy cost and resource burden to maintain. It can integrate with new services—such as web-based front ends—or new facilities—such as ERP or CRM systems. It allows a clear progression path when you are ready to replace the application.
Areas to address: Legacy data
B2B technology—especially EDI—has been around for some time now. It is frequently mainframe-based and likely to make use of aged data systems such as DL/1. It is likely that any original documentation has long since vanished. But there are risks in changing this code, even down to putting you in breach of your compliance obligations. By understanding how the application works and its related data flows you can begin to integrate critical legacy systems with newer technologies that can drive competitive advantage.
Areas to address: Widespread integration
Unlike internal applications that you may look to modernize, your B2B systems are complicated by the need to integrate with the business systems of your trading partners. The key lies in your ability to quickly and accurately design and develop the required document maps and support any-to-any data translation to convert data from your internal and legacy systems into the formats required by your trading partners, including EDI, XML or industry standards such as RosettaNet.
Areas to address: Skills shortage
Core to the modernization programs of many organizations is the fact that they are increasingly faced with a shortage of skills needed to adequately support the legacy systems. Many of the original staff are reaching retirement age or are amongst those asked to take voluntary redundancy as organizations look to reduce headcount. You can quickly become faced with legacy code that no one really understands and an IT resource who are reticent to re-train to simply maintain that code.
The role of B2B Managed Services
Given the difficulties outlined above it is no surprise that many companies have turned to B2B Managed Services for a solution. They see that they can make legacy support and integration a controllable cost by passing it off to a resource that has in-depth experience of working with the entire range of B2B technologies. The key area to consider is whether the supplier has the skills and solutions to automate the mapping and translation processes.
Issues to consider:
- How long have your EDI systems been in place?
- What platform are they hosted upon?
- Where—and in what format—is the data stored?
- Can you populate your ERP systems with this data?
- What other B2B standards and protocols do you also support?
- Do you have the correct skills to support an expanding B2B infrastructure?