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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Awareness and Visibility Will Be Enhanced by the Emerging “Internet of Things”

The Internet of Things – the connection of everyday objects to the Internet – can, and should, enhance awareness and visibility in the digital supply chain, said Sean Riley of SoftwareAG in a recent essay on supply chain trends.

An executive in supply chain management software, Riley noted that the ubiquity of devices able to communicate via public networks is firmly established, as the number of people carrying mobile computing devices continues to rise, and the sheer quantity of devices used for Internet communication is climbing still faster.

A recent Gartner forecast, he pointed out, predicted that the number of interconnected everyday objects, laptops, tablets and smartphones aside, could be as high as 30 billion by 2020.

What would be the effect of the proliferation of such connectedness? According to the Gartner study, Manufacturing would benefit significantly, with a potential cross-sector gain of 15 percent. IoT, Riley pointed out, can offer the digital supply chain greatly increased real-time visibility, which in turn heightens awareness throughout the chain.

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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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