Building a digital partner eco system beyond traditional B2B/EDI

Perception of traditional B2B (business-to-business) electronic communication is all about batch oriented, point to point transactional document exchange with the business partners through EDI VAN or directly managed file transfers. This involves exchanging transactional information using various industry standard EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) formats configured for each partner along with partner/document specific logic customization for line of business applications. In typical supply chain or retail context, these partners are suppliers, customers, services providers like 3PL (Third Party Logistics Providers) and b2C ecommerce websites (for scenarios like small package shipments).

Even though EDI based implementation model has matured over decades of commercial use, the traditional approach lacks many inherent capabilities required for modern digital evolution. The chart below highlights some of the fundamental features and gaps between the traditional models versus the capabilities required to support the modern digital paradigm:

Given the prevalence of EDI based integration for decades, this form of communication will continue in near future. However, it is imperative for both business and IT leaders to assess how their current B2B communication ability will affect their organizations through the journey of industry wide transformation. It is evident for businesses to start viewing B2B communication platforms as strategic self-contained, standalone asset and not just a bolt on to their internal business application. The modern architecture for deploying a strategic B2B communication capability needs to incorporate the following:

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