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3 Essential Managed File Transfer Capabilities for Driving Growth

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Oct 04, 2018

Business growth can be a double-edged sword. While increased revenues are never frowned upon, the downside manifests itself in the burgeoning data volumes that the organization must manage—particularly files that must be transferred between the organization, its customers, and its partners.

These challenges add reliability issues, compliance concerns, and security risks related to moving data, as well as challenges managing the volume and size of files moving through the systems.

As partner networks grow, companies find themselves managing multiple solutions for file transfer—and lack visibility from end to end. The typical enterprise supports three or more file transfer platforms—and as a result, have many disjointed file transfer processes and blind spots. This severely limits their ability to support the company’s growth initiatives effectively. 

However, enterprises that leverage a managed file transfer solution can gain critical capabilities for enabling—even driving growth. A centralized, enterprise-grade managed file transfer (MFT) platform allows for full visibility into file transfers and provides a better user experience for line of business users and partners alike. It also includes the security and audit trail capabilities necessary in today’s ever-changing alphabet soup of regulations, from PCI-DSS to Sarbanes-Oxley and beyond. Let’s explore this a bit.

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B2B Partner Onboarding: A Technical or Process Problem?

By John Hawkins | Wed, Sep 26, 2018

When I first joined Lightwell, I was struck by how everyone discusses "onboarding." What was this magical and mystical thing? Why was it discussed in such reverential tones? Having analyzed this further, I'm still a little mystified as to why the hush tones but I'll put a few words down here about what I consider onboarding to consist of and why it's as much a human process as a technical challenge.

It's clear that onboarding of partners is where much time is spent in a B2B system. That's why business people consider it a large factor in their projects. Not only that, but I've found that the more technical people discuss onboarding related to the technical aspect only. Whereas, in my opinion, a lot of the onboarding process is actually about human interaction.

In this post, I'll discuss what B2B trading partner onboarding is and then why I consider it to be as much a human process as a technical one.

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Why Successful Digital Transformation Requires Integration and APIs

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Sep 19, 2018

Digital Transformation Is a Must

Digital transformation is on the minds of many senior business executives. They realize that digital transformation can no longer be discussed in the abstract; it must be a part of their business strategies and goals.

According to research firm Gartner, most CEOs understand the importance of digital business, and half of those surveyed expect to see digital transformation in their industries. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and autonomous transportation all played a role in their responses.

More immediately, mobile and omnichannel are necessary capabilities for moving ahead of the competition. Businesses are under an increasing demand to delight consumers with unique experiences, as well as providing employees and partners with immediate access to useful data. That can’t be done without integrating new systems and touchpoints with legacy systems and data stores.  We'll explore the importance of integration and APIs in this post. 

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3 Ways to Reduce Omnichannel Order Fulfillment Costs

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Sep 05, 2018

Omnichannel order fulfillment is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have multiple methods for fulfilling customer orders, and customers can choose whether they want orders shipped to them or picked up in store. This flexibility helps to make customers happy.

On the other hand, retailers have seen upwards of a 300 percent increase in what it costs to serve omnichannel customers. 

According to the Retail Industry Leader Association’s annual survey, as reported in Supply Chain Quarterly, executives identified controlling supply chain costs as a top priority, with order fulfillment and omnichannel costs being a part of the reason.

The good news is that tools exist to help reduce omnichannel order fulfillment costs and complexity. These tools leverage advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and predictive analytics to optimize order fulfillment processes.

The transparency provided by these tools can help companies drastically reduce the cost to serve their omnichannel customers while still meeting consumer expectations of speedy delivery.

While there is no magic bullet to cost reduction, let’s take a look at three ways companies can use these advanced capabilities to improve the way they fulfill orders.

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Top 5 Pillars of Highly-Effective Managed File Transfer Strategies

By Lori Angalich | Fri, Aug 31, 2018

Managed file transfer solutions are gaining traction, particularly in financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare organizations. According to Research and Markets, the global managed file transfer (MFT) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 6 percent from 2017 to 2025 as more companies adopt these solutions.

However, adopting MFT technology isn’t enough; organizations need to make sure they back up the technology with a strategy that aligns with the organization’s goals, compliance needs, and end users.

The organizations that are most successful with MFT include five key pillars in their strategy. These underpin the technology with user adoption and confidence, allowing MFT to become as much a part of the organization as sending email—but more secure, and with better results. From introducing standardization in the technology itself to making sure end users know the how and why of MFT, highly effective MFT strategies include the following:

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Simplifying Container Management with Kubernetes: Exploring IBM and MuleSoft Solutions

By John Hawkins | Tue, Aug 14, 2018

Parallel problems

Although the offerings I'm about to discuss are different, they're interesting enough to explore more closely. Both IBM and MuleSoft are claiming that the reason for implementing their solutions is because they perceive a lack of skills in containers and Kubernetes.

This tallies with what I see in the world I work in too. It's one thing to say that you can run a few containers in the wild, but it's quite another to run them as a true cloud environment with hundreds— potentially thousandsof them.

Alongside this, containers are making some architectures change. High Availability (HA) solutions that once looked fine in the VM world now begin to look clunky and new ways of doing HA are springing up. Monitoring now becomes a headache if your failing system was brought down automatically and had been recreated before you even knew you had a problem. Never mind things like license management, where most vendors are struggling to cope with a more flexible model that true cloud requires.

I'll discuss here the two different offerings, and we can see how they are very differentbut trying to solve the same skills issue.

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How API-Led Connectivity Addresses Digital Transformation Challenges

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Jul 25, 2018

In the early stages of a digital transformation initiative, there are many decisions to make, including which new technologies to implement, what applications should be moved to the cloud, and what processes should be redesigned.

However, many organizations find that the further they go in their transformation planning process, the more they realize they need to connect.

Everything as a Service (XaaS), the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile require effective integration for you to get the most out of your investments in your current systems and any new technologies you acquire. Also, achieving your business objectives often depends on connectivity and real-time communication between systems that previously existed in silos.

However, the traditional ways of integration won’t work for the rapidly-increasing number of endpoints and the constantly changing IT landscape. Adopting API-led connectivity and application networks helps organizations meet these challenges head-on, providing a critical enabler to digital transformation.  

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Why Cognitive is Critical in Omnichannel Order Management

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Jul 18, 2018

For retailers as well as B2B companies, order fulfillment plays a major role in both customer satisfaction and profitability. Customers expect flawless, fast order fulfillment across all channels.  While customer-centric companies work hard to meet these expectations, it can be very expensive to do so.

As customers purchase from your company across multiple channels—via the Web, mobile apps, kiosks, marketplaces, retail locations, and even catalog and telephone orders—you’ll want capabilities like centralized order orchestration, ship from store, drop ship, and real-time inventory visibility. These order management capabilities work together to meet customers’ expectations seamless, fast and error-free order fulfillment.

However, these capabilities alone don’t ensure companies can do so profitably.  In fact, while many CEOs have identified omnichannel commerce as a top priority, the IBM Consumer Expectations Study found that it could cost up to three times more to serve omnichannel customers.

Every channel adds complexity to the order fulfillment process. In addition, there’s pressure from customers and competitors to same-day or two-day shipping, making it even more critical to leverage modern technologies to fulfill orders in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. In fact, the IBM study found that 72 percent of consumersconsider two-day or less shipping as a factor when making a purchase.

On top of using an omnichannel order management system, companies are now adopting solutions that can apply human reasoning and cognitive capabilities to order fulfillment. As a result, they’re able to meet or exceed customer expectations while reducing their fulfillment costs. Let’s take a closer look.

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Overcoming 5 of Today's Top File Transfer Challenges with MFT

By Lori Angalich | Mon, Jul 16, 2018

File transfers between an organization, its business partners, and customers can be fraught with challenges.

Today, organizations must support ever-increasing file sizes, types, volumes, and user numbers under severe budget constraints. Also, they must address extensive security requirements and compliance challenges, meet strict SLAs, and support the rapidly-changing needs of the business.

In the past, these challenges may have been viewed as technical problems, approached with an assortment of technologies and file transfer methods—including “free” technology such as FTP.  However, to keep pace with the evolving needs of the business, protect a wide variety of data, and mitigate risk inside and outside the enterprise, organizations have realized the need for enterprise-class managed file transfer solutions

In this post, I’ll explore these common challenges and the vital role these solutions play in overcoming them.

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APIs vs EDI: Internal vs External Communications

By John Hawkins | Thu, Jun 07, 2018

In a previous post, APIs vs EDI: Complementary, Not Competitive, I shared my perspectives on the evolution of APIs along with EDI.  I'm going to expand on this topic with the idea that agile methodologies may have more to do with the current proliferation of API Management than the usurping of EDI. 

Let's be clear…EDI is most certainly here to stay for a long time to come. I've read many articles and debates on this subject but, for me, what it comes down to are those well-known business interchanges. 

We can't just ignore the fact that EDI has evolved to where it is today because business needs well-known formats so that they can communicate with each other in a standardized manner. APIs, at the moment, simply don't have those standardized formats. When a company creates an externally-facing API they are, today, writing their own business interchange format (i.e. trying to reproduce an EDI interchange).

Now, that's fine, however, if each company is going to create its own format then communication between companies is going to revert back to being a spaghetti mess of protocols. This is exactly what EDI was meant to overcome, and why EDI has been so successful for so many years.

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