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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B2B Integration – The 1st Digitization Enabler Remains One of The Most Important

In this digital age, every company wants to become a digital enterprise so that it can connect with customers across different channels and offer them new products. But long before companies were even thinking of connecting with customers digitally, they were connecting with each other digitally.

B2B Integration was the 1st Digitization enabler which brought efficiency to B2B transactions between companies and their partners. Companies discovered the benefits of connecting digitally with suppliers and other partners several decades ago. Just to put things in perspective:

  • The first forms of EDI emerged almost 30 years ago when there were smartphones or for that matter even cellphones.
  • EDI is even a few years older than email (SMTP). The ANSI X12 emerged earlier than SMTP although the newer mechanisms such as AS2 are more recent.
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B2B Integration Enables Global Flows in Digital age

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, Global flows in a digital age: How trade, finance, people, and data connect the world economy, examines the inflows and outflows of goods, services, finance, and people, as well as the data and communication flows that underlie them all, for 195 countries around the world.

In the inter-connected economy these flows enable global trade. The study indicates that flows of goods, services, and finance reached $26 trillion in 2012, or 36 percent of global GDP, 1.5 times the level in 1990.

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Internet of Things needs B2B Standards

B2B standards based on EDI or XML formats run the global economy. The benefits of these standards is primarily interoperability which makes it easier for parties to exchange and interpret data.

The recent unfortunate incident involving Malaysian Airliner crash has exposed the problem with machine and sensor data using proprietary formats. The moment a machine moves out of pre-determined path, other machines do not know what is going on and do not even understand  what object is showing up on radar.

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