B2B integration: Don't engage in risky business


lightwelldatasecurity-1B2B integration projects come with risks - that's unavoidable. There are far too many variables in play to plan for everything to go off without a hitch if the company's never before engaged with a project of this magnitude. Therefore, it's important to go into the process armed with a support system that can identify variables, alleviate pressures and set B2B integration up for long-term success. Because this is easier said than done, many companies have found that investing in B2B managed services for B2B integration can help enterprises effectively develop and maintain robust practices for partner onboarding, collaboration networks and IT approaches. This ensures that organizations aren't engaged in risky business.

Here are three common issues in B2B integration that a managed services provider can eliminate:

A lack of collaboration potential
When you think of the famous line from "Cool Hand Luke," "What we've got here is a failure to communicate," does it ring true for your company's B2B efforts as well? With so many business partners at various stages in their evolution on board, it can be hard to ensure partners are on the same page. Sometimes, it seems like they're not even reading the same book. Endeavoring to eliminate both broad differences in approach and nitty-gritty divergences in operational syntax can be a difficult and resource-draining beast. Too often, companies exist in communication silos, unable to voice issues effectively, never mind collaborate. As Business 2 Community contributor Steven Gaffney wrote, it's usually a system-wide issue:

"People need the systems, methods and strategies to get the unsaid said in a timely and effective manner," Gaffney pointed out. "Furthermore, people must not only see the importance of bringing up an issue, they must learn how to influence others to get the issue resolved. Most problems start small. That's why it's so important to implement systems that encourage consistent communication and feedback."

A managed services solution for a B2B integration initiative not only facilitates better connections between business partners, it helps foster a more interactive enterprise environment through smooth onboarding processes, expert advice for interactions and a variety of software and IT tools that can help stimulate open, fruitful lines of communication. One organization employing high-performance collaborative processes can help spread this value through the supply chains and commerce systems it is part of, boosting the shared value of the investment.

Absence of a truly tactical framework
Communication problems are just a portion of the issues that can metastasize when partner companies aren't operating out of a harmonious framework. A lack of visibility, management capability or communication capacity on the part of one partner organization can end up having a trickle-down effect on its partners, and it's definitely true that a B2B chain is only as effective as its least-effective link. A B2B integration project can end up trying to circumvent, work around or even ignore these differences in the belief that they won't affect the new framework. However, this approach can set partners at cross purposes, and it's much more difficult to revise or reorient a B2B integration system once it's operational than it is to set it up to succeed from the beginning.

Of course, no organization wants to sacrifice its own progress. With the help of a managed services provider, a B2B integration doesn't have to. Deviating customer fulfillment practices, customized applications and different organizational philosophies can all be honored without having them infringe upon the effectiveness of the whole team. The provider can streamline key management tasks, reduce complexity in onboarding times and simplify the scope of business process development. This boosts visibility throughout the integration and ensures that partner organizations can achieve the best of both worlds.

Security breaches and data exploitation pose near-constant threats
With another large-scale data breach hitting a new company seemingly every week, organizations are understandably alarmed at the potential risky business involved in exchanging data, sharing corporate network tools or communicating in potentially insecure environments. In an article for Fortune, reporter Robert Hackett reflected on the fact that security preservation can't be had completely with a "shiny new toy" approach - rather, companies must make targeted, smart and ongoing investments in the people and processes that comprise their B2B partnerships. This doesn't mean that organizations need to expend increasingly more resources making this happen.

Investing in the services of a B2B integration solutions provider allows businesses to make serious investments in their people and processes without being tied to the rising costs of a multi-pronged strategy. A B2B integration solutions provider identifies specific security, risk or compliance management issues that can or do affect the partnerships at large, and implements next-gen technologies and  strategies that can keep businesses situated for success. It also provides a flexible and highly available support system that can address emerging threats and protect information integrity.

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