Managed File Transfer Can Enable Stronger B2B Compliance

Both the importance and complexity of compliance are increasing in industries across the board, healthcare in particular. More specifically, the mutual adherence to compliance standards required of B2B partners in the sharing of data across networks is becoming not only mission-critical, but fraught with consequences when not fully achieved.

The level of technological proficiency required to meet compliance standards is, at this point, profound. Sensitive data must often be encrypted during transmission between B2B partners; temporary copies of data created during transmission must be wiped; every access of shared data must be recorded; all transmissions between partners must have audit trails, and so on.

Managed file transfer may offer a single mechanism capable of handling many if not most of these technical challenges. MFT expert Don Jones, in his recent Tips and Tricks Guide to Managed File Transfer, has pointed out that MFT solutions that are certified by the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 are, by definition, encrypted to meet most domestic security standards, for a start.

He also pointed out that MFT can provide most of the deep details of a data transfer: “The MFT solution (a good one, at least) can track who has transferred a file, when a file was transferred, how long the transfer took, to where the file was transferred, what file was transferred, and so on,” he wrote. Businesses with complex compliance requirements should seek an MFT solution that “maps its capabilities directly to compliance requirements, providing underlying technical explanations if you want them, but focusing on that business‐level mapping.”

“It’s not that your business shouldn’t be concerned about the underlying technical implementation; it’s that you should be concerned first about becoming compliant and looking for solutions that map to specific compliance requirements.”

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Integrated, Real-Time Logistics Data Can Make All the Difference in the Supply Chain

Successful supply chain integration is often a question of logistics. The efficiency with which partner companies in a supply chain are able to detect and adapt to changes in logistics is an important factor in supply chain outcomes.

But infrastructural differences and variations in in-house logistics systems can frequently cause bottlenecks, imposing delays and additional cost to the movement of cargo through the chain.

Michael Frans, a South African business development expert, recently proposed telematics as a solution to these difficulties. Telematics, introduction of GPS data, vehicle identification, product RFID and other data that can be used to track delivery in real time, can strengthen supply chain integration by flagging potential delays ahead of time and keeping all chain participants on the ready to respond to problems in delivery.

“There are endless possibilities for the data stored within telematics solutions,” Frans said. “It is all about how this data is managed, and the ability to break down siloes to deliver real-time information to stakeholders when and where they need it.”

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webMethods AS4 Demonstrates a New Standard for B2B Web Services Adoption

SoftwareAG has released a version of its webMethods Module for B2B document exchange that implements the new AS4 mapping standard, advancing the potential utility of web services in B2B integration.

Dave Hardman, product marketing manager for SoftwareAG, explained the importance of the advance in a recent blog:

“AS4 does what seemed previously impossible: making the adoption of web services for B2B usable,” Hardman said. He pointed out that the web services standard for B2B document payload delivery – ebXML Messaging Services, or ebMS – is so flexible as to make implementation very difficult.

AS4 constrains ebMS to essentials, he said, making it easier to leverage web services in B2B integration, providing true interoperability. “The leaner AS4 profile simplifies the usage of ebMS, making it easier to adopt web services for B2B transactions.”

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Consolidating In-House B2B Processes May Have Many Potential Benefits

It is often the case, especially in larger companies, that several B2B point solutions might be deployed to accommodate, for instance, different business units. Often, these solutions are sought at different times by different groups, with no real awareness that other solutions are already in place in-house, and with no IT coordination.

Dave Hardman, industry expert in B2B integration, recently suggested that consolidating multiple solutions can have significant benefits for the enterprise.

Increased visibility could be an immediate result of consolidation, he pointed out, as multiple B2B solutions mean multiple transaction logs. A single log makes compliance and transaction management far simpler and less costly, as well as making security easier.

Increased agility and decreased complexity are also proven products of consolidation, he continued. A single integration solution is more scalable and easier to manage overall, with single-point maintenance. The complexity of multiple upgrades, disparate platform maintenance and the proliferation of endpoints in multiple solution also imposes a complexity that is greatly reduced when a single solution is employed.

Hardman pointed out a final important benefit: reduced cost, derived from time and labor saved in reduced maintenance and support. When B2B integration needs across business units are an issue, he recommended that companies consider a single broad and highly scalable platform.

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