Why have B2B solutions been defined as outside the firewall? Increasingly we are seeing organisations that have evolved, or are evolving into amorphous structures that are hard to define as either a single or multiple entities. Organisations that have traditionally been compartmentalized as in a specific industry and offering a specific service are frequently now focusing on their core abilities and organizational strengths and applying this to service other departments, subsidiaries or even other organisations in totally separate industries – areas of expertise such as Payments processing for Financial Service companies or Bill processing by Telecommunications operators are seen as revenue generators not corporate overheads. We also see supposedly key processes being outsourced such as Call centers and Networks. Organisations are diversifying hoping that owning the customer or consumer will be enough to be able to resell associated products or services that they have branded or can acquire from other departments or suppliers. It’s a long time since organisations have had to own all their product and service creation and delivery functions however successful and capable they are; but they do have to maximize the revenue and benefits they receive from them.
All in all the hairball of inter-relationships within and without the organisation is becoming more and more convoluted. The traditional supply chain and its management that typically was seen as the life blood of industries such as manufacturing and retail has increasingly been absorbed by industries and sectors as diverse as Financial Services, Telecommunications and the Public Sector who are reliant on partner organisations for key parts of their product and service creation, delivery and support.
But this evolution throws up significant issues as well as benefits.
A major issue is the management and control of access to data and security compliance. Visible security management, access control and auditability are prerequisites of any customer data integration solution but frequently data and access from partners and from within an organisation are viewed as separate processes.
The ability to swiftly respond to changing business and market requirements means not only managing new partnerships and data flows but that the organisation or department providing you will core services last week may not be the same as next week.
This all means that the traditional B2B data flows can now be rethought. The benefits of B2B solutions with partner on-boarding processes and management; data format transformations and managed file transfer are just as relevant within an organisation and its departments as well as when connecting external partner organisations.
The ability to link and manage data publishing organisations / systems / applications together with those applications within your organisation or department that consumes them is just as relevant within the firewall as from outside.
And if you can integrate the external organisation and internal departments data then you are definitely on the road to solving the problem of business change, data security, regulatory compliance and maximising the value of your most important asset – data.