Strategic Managed File Transfer

Managed File Transfer is an important new tool in B2B integration, enhancing a traditional data-sharing mechanism with audit, enhanced security, and failed delivery functionality. But the benefits of MFT extend beyond the technical, also enhancing business processes.

As B2B partner networks grow increasingly integrated, so do B2B partner business processes; the need for increased partner collaboration and the accompanying need for increased visibility make MTF as much a strategic business imperative as a technical goal.

Industry analyst Derek Brink has summarized the strategic features of managed file transfers, as they affect business process integration:

•Visibility. In the film The Godfather, the point is made, “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately,” Brinks writes. His point is that it is better to keep all parties in a B2B-integrated supply chain as up-to-the-minute as possible, in matters of delivery, inventory maintenance, information access, transaction verification, and other messages. MFT provides workflow to ensure this visibility, he points out.

•Reliability is essential to achieving this visibility, Brinks continues: assurance of file delivery, with confirmation, delivery failure options, and checkpointed process recovery, provide that reliability.

•Integration with existing infrastructure, easily achieved with MFT, encourages smooth business uptake of MFT enhancements, he concludes: to be able to integrate up-to-the-minute messaging and immediately monitor acceptance and response enhances partner confidence.

Finally, he points out that standardizing messaging around a robust and reliable platform leads to centralized messaging policies and administration on the business side.

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Growing Traffic Makes Control of File Transfer Essential

The transfer of unstructured data (files) between business partners is growing at a brisk pace. This opens the door for potential error, compliance issues, and confusion.

According to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, the number of end users requiring file transfer capability is growing rapidly, between 6% and 9% annually, as of 2013. The volume of file transfers per user is growing faster still, from 8% to 11% annually. Finally, the size of the average file to be transferred is also growing, from 6% to 7%.

The flip side is that IT staff to accommodate the increased traffic is not growing correspondingly.

A sensible solution for B2B partner companies needing to accommodate these increases is Managed File Transfer. MTF augments existing B2B data exchange mechanisms by off-loading the transfer of larger files to an independent mechanism, lessening resource consumption. It automates file transfers between B2B partners, incorporating detection and handling of transfer failures, which conventional file transfer does not; and it can authenticate users against AD/LDAP.

Industry uptake of MTF has been rapid, and it has taken up a permanent place in the B2B toolkit.

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How Supply Chain Disruption Affects the Financial World

A common concern of global insurance firms is, unsurprisingly, the financial impact of supply chain disruptions. An industry risk assessment published earlier this year stated that 43 percent of corporate insurance experts consider the business interruption of supply chain disruption to be their most significant concern.

Always a concern for supply chain participants themselves, supply chain disruption has downline impacts that have financial consequences on other business entities.

The financial losses that can result in a local economy due to supply chain disruption are so concerning to global insurance analysts that they actually top natural disasters and fires in importance. Business interruption, the report stated, accounts for 50-70 percent of insured property losses.

“As supply chains are becoming increasingly complex in a global sourcing world, any disruption – for example due to natural catastrophes, IT/telecom outages, transportation issues, a supplier’s bankruptcy or civil unrest – can lead to a snowball effect,” said Paul Carter, global head of risk consulting at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), said recently.

“Business continuity planning is key and should be part of any company’s procurement and supplier selection process. Yet, to ensure appropriate mitigation measures can be implemented, it is no longer sufficient to know your ‘critical’ suppliers; you also need to have a grasp of how they manage their own supply chain exposures,” Carter concluded.

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