Should you consider moving B2B file transfers to the cloud?

     

b2binhecloudlightwellBusiness communications are more complex than ever before. There are more endpoints, file formats and user preferences - just figuring out how to send an important document can be a challenge. There are simply too many variables, and organizations need better ways of controlling them.

Managed file transfer has emerged as a way of giving companies better tools to communicate with business partners, with customers and within their own organizations. Instead of a sprawling, ever-expanding communications system with a lack of uniform protocols and increasing security vulnerabilities, organizations can streamline file transfers and other key interactions into a consolidated framework. Shifting this framework away from disparate on-premises software and unreliable tools to the cloud can multiply the savings and productivity a business can expect from its B2B file transfer solution.

Hurdles to optimized B2B file transfers
The way businesses communicate has fundamentally shifted, and companies need better B2B file transfer solutions in order to keep pace with the new paradigm. Emerging issues are especially apparent in regard to safeguarding information in transit from cyberthreats and ensuring compliance with standards that can vary significantly between companies. Part of the problem, wrote TechRadar contributor John Slocum, lies in the variety of different file transfers businesses must perform - document-centric, collaborative or person-centric, with degrees of automation to streamline sending and ensure compliance.

Additionally, the consumerization of IT has left companies with a view of how information should be exchanged that's informed by brands known for satisfying, responsive end user experiences, like Apple and Amazon, Slocum wrote. IT departments have to deal with more layers in their file transfers, but are being expected to perform on the level of a top B2C company. The "legacy IT headache" of information management suffers from changes in perception as well as in operation, spurring the need for a new, outsourced method.

"This expectation vs. reality tension leads to larger security challenges when employees, including IT staff, start using unapproved applications that don't meet the security requirements of the organization or the industry," stated Slocum. "Further, for information associated with critical business processes, using these unapproved methods often create holes in these systems."

The benefits of cloud-based B2B file transfers
In a nutshell, moving B2B file transfers to cloud-based solutions enables them to align with the ways that people compile, send and share information today. The cloud forms the basis for so many methods of corporate communication today, Forbes contributor Daniel Newman pointed out, from software applications to file-sharing services to data analysis programs. A cloud-based, managed B2B file transfer ecosystem makes document management easier, more productive and better protected.

Here are four key advantages of going to the cloud with B2B file transfers:

  1. Reduce pressure on IT: Instead of maxing out IT resources and stretching the responsibilities of IT personnel to the limit, organizations can reduce the amount of manual tasks IT is expected to perform. By moving to the cloud, organizations can adopt a solution like the IBM Sterling File Transfer Service, which uses automation and protocol conversion to reduce the strain placed on IT activities and costs devoted to maintaining infrastructure. 
  2. Gain visibility into file transfer processes: Many organizations simply don’t have a way to comprehensively view all of the processes, formats and compliance standards used and followed by personnel. A B2B managed service provider can help a company consolidate this information into the cloud-based service, so organizations can full insight into how they can continue to improve file transfer methods. This data can also be leveraged in analytics and real-time reports to aid a company in making file transfers as productive as possible.
  3. Build better B2B relationships: As discussed above, B2B companies are judging their relationships more like those of B2C companies. Using a cloud-based B2B file transfer solution enables organizations to provide the responsiveness, flexibility and attention to detail in a meaningful and relationship-specific way. Instead of introducing risks or complications that can complicate a relationship, organizations can be more accountable and adaptable as relationships develop.
  4. Get smart about security: Cyberthreats aren't going away any time soon. A lack of centralized oversight and a clear means of compiling and sharing files in a compliant and safe way means that there likely will be vulnerabilities that are overlooked. A cloud-based B2B file transfer solution offers a single connection that cuts down on network points of entry, a unified methodology that diminishes shadow file transfers and more tools to keep information safe as it changes hands.
Learn more about B2B file transfers in the cloud from Lightwell (Oxford Consulting Group at the time of recording):