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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B2B Integration is Strengthening Oil and Natural Gas Transactions

In a recently-implemented tripartite B2B integration effort, Numaligarh Refinery, Limited has streamlined crude oil supply and invoicing with other oil companies, including Oil India, Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Limited.

Coordinating crude oil transactions via B2B “will enable to NRL cover transactions worth over [$1.7 billion] per annum with OIL and over [$645 million] with ONGC into the ambit of IT-enabled settlement,” according to a statement given at the implementation’s roll-out event in Nazira, Assam.

The increased automation will increase transparency and business efficiency, the statement said. NRL has implemented similar B2B partnerships recently with several petroleum marketing companies, and has implemented e-payment with suppliers and service providers.

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Energy & Utilities B2B Integration Has Become Mission-Critical

The electric utilities industry is undergoing a revolution, according to Europe’s trade association Eurelectric.

“The EU power sector is going through one of the most profound changes in its history,” the report stated. Strategy consultant Jesse Jenkins, in noting the report, speculated that Europe’s need for revolution reflects conditions in the energy industry world-wide, the message being, “they must evolve or die.”

Four major trends are reshaping the power sector, he said: the growth of renewables, a more decentralized system, foundations of the smart grid, and retail competition/new services.

The Eurelectric report cites several evolutionary improvements in services that are critical to the future, including improved system flexibility: “A market involving B2B [business to business] customers is already emerging and is likely to extend to the B2C segment through two-way digital communication enabled by smart grids and the increased penetration of smart appliances and home control technologies.”

The report concluded that real evolution in the industry requires not just technological innovation, but new innovative business models. A successful example is Entsog, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, which is smoothly facilitating the integration of trading across borders by leveraging the AS4 interface standard.

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The Rise of APIs for B2B Integration

APIs are everywhere. Companies are exposing APIs to generate new revenue streams. By exposing applications and data to the outside world via APIs, companies can monetize their existing IT infrastructure. That means they can generate additional revenue without significant investment.

Netflix has over 100,000 DVD titles that it exposes through APIs for integration with over 200 devices, including several type of mobile devices. By delivering data through APIs, Netflix not only created a new revenue stream but also became a leader in this category. Stripe is a new start up which processes payments and exposes its services via an API suite. APIs are at the front, right and center of business model transformations happening today.

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