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.
1. Scalability to Support Your Growth in Partners and Volume
If you onboard more than 10 business partners per month, you probably deal with critical path issues and require IT intervention to manage trading partners and ensure files make it to their intended destinations. The cost of failed transfers is high: lost orders, missed SLAs, and no proof for compliance audits that can result in penalties and missed opportunity—as well as very disgruntled partners and customers.
MFT platforms and B2B File Gateways, such as IBM File Gateway, can monitor, route, and transform files to ensure they reach their destination as anticipated. They make large volumes of files accessible to the partners and end users that are expecting them. They offer key functions like delivery confirmation, automatic retry, and failure notifications so that users are alerted to problems before the partner complains that the documents haven’t arrived—a proactive approach to managing file transfers.
2. Security to Protect Critical Data and Ensure Compliance
MFT platforms can also facilitate secure document exchanges. Not only do ad-hoc solutions like desktop FTP servers create delivery problems, they also open up the organization to security breaches, data loss, PCI-DSS compliance issues, and audit issues in the case of Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations.
Secure MFT solutions offer more than just encryption during file transfer; they also can provide multifactor authentication to help ensure the person logging into the system is the intended person, as well as DMZ protection to segregate sensitive information and encryption of files at rest.
3. Simple, Repeatable Processes (and Reduced Costs)
Repeatable processes are the difference between configuring self-service portals and using wizards—and tedious, custom development efforts to onboard new trading partners every single time.
With the former, business users can assist with trading partner onboarding, sending a link to the intended partner to request information and having the information filled out by the partner (using templates and wizards). IT doesn’t need to be involved, and the department can focus on strategic initiatives instead of constantly setting up new partners to connect to the system. This saves time—reducing the time it takes to onboard new trading partners from weeks to days or even hours—resulting in lower costs and faster time to revenue.
Additionally, leading MFT platforms include out-of-the-box support for multiple protocols, encryption, and security standards—offering organizations the flexibility to adapt as they add trading partners.
Solutions with pre-built connectors and APIs enable organizations to integrate these platforms into existing architecture, and support multiple operating systems, databases, LDAP, and message buses. Future infrastructure choices aren’t limited, as the platform accommodates new technologies.
An MFT platform can add critical capabilities to an organization that can’t be realized with an ad hoc file transfer and management solutions or manual intervention. Automation, security, and flexibility are all core components of an enterprise grade MFT platform, which improves trading between the organization, its customers, and its partners, protects data, and improves productivity. In addition, the right capabilities allow for faster partner onboarding and time-to-revenue.
To learn more about this subject, view the on-demand webcast we presented with IBM, and feel free to check out some of our other Managed File Transfer blog posts.
About the Author
Lori Angalich is the VP of Marketing at Lightwell. She loves exploring new technologies and business models, learning how things work, solving problems, and developing new ideas with others. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and an MBA in Marketing, and she enjoys applying her knowledge from both each and every day. Lori has a passion for travel, art, wine, music, wildlife (including her two dogs, who are a bit on the "wild side"), and most of all, creating great memories with her family.