Like a layer cake: A guide to the levels of B2B managed services

     

describe the imageMany B2B companies today struggle with some manifestation of the old proverb "you can't have your cake and eat it, too." With business moving faster than ever and so many options for enterprise improvement available, it can be easy for a company to feel like it's taken on more than it can handle. When that competitive spirit kicks in, though, it's hard not to look at another organization and wonder how it does it. Today's top companies seem to easily integrate new innovations and reap the benefits of disruptive technologies without any of the negative interruptions.

Lightwell's  new B2B managed services offerings provide companies the ability to take whatever approach they want to eating and having their figurative cake. At the risk of belaboring the cake metaphors, think of our B2B managed services offerings as "cake tiers" that can provide a different layer of support according to the company's needs. With different options, organizations can add infrastructure and dedicated IT staff when they need it and not where it would be redundant. This is true whether they just need help getting a better B2B environment off the ground or want sustained outsourced support into the future.

Breaking down the different layers of B2B managed services available can help organizations understand the best option to "bake in" to their integration development. It's important that companies understand the available service packages, Datacenter Dynamics contributor Ambrose McNevin wrote, in order to make a smart choice amid the often-confusing world of IT outsourcing.

"Advocates of IT sourcing point to benefits such as money savings and solving procurement problems around lack of control," McNevin wrote. He added, "The context for all of this is that current landscape of choice. Whether big or small, for the inexperienced with any type of IT workload requirement, the market can appear bewildering."

Layer 1: Staff augmentation
Companies may already have a handle on what they want to accomplish with B2B integration. They may have the staff ready to support new B2B techniques and technologies, providing the level of oversight necessary to fluid, fully functional operation. However, the rollout process can be difficult, and it's crucial to get it right. Existing staff might be able to manage B2B systems once they're up and running, but will likely need an experienced consultant to show them the ropes.

We can provide dedicated consultants and IT staff who can help supervise implementation. They work with the business to determine the best method for deployment and get it done within specific timeframes. Once it's up and running, our consultants depart, giving the company full control if that is its prerogative. 

Layer 2: On premise support for existing B2B integration solutions
Because B2B integration is such a demanding enterprise area, it requires vigilance and proactive management. A company may find that it has hit a plateau or is worried about further developing its ability to automate processes, manage documents and become more adaptable. In this case, it makes sense to bring in some expertise from a B2B managed services provider like us. We can take command of critical but time-consuming tasks such management and monitoring.

This decision has several benefits. Besides the time and resources freed up that no longer need to go toward daily oversight, managed services teams can uncover B2B integration solution inefficiencies. They can effectively become contributors to business development as they offer contextual guidance and ensure that B2B integration systems are operating according to the most advanced best practices. It adds measured, targeted consultation that doesn't disrupt business workflows in any way.

Layer 3: On premise support for new B2B integration solution implementations
A company may come to the conclusion that it needs a complete overhaul of its B2B integration solution platform, planning for a massive upgrade or a migration from another B2B solution. In this case, bringing on a B2B managed services provider experienced with the type of B2B integration solution the enterprise plans to install is a good way to take steps forward without significant steps back.

This option offers many of the same process advantages as Layer 2, where we as the managed services provider assume oversight of system monitoring and management. We can also strategize an effective transition from one B2B integration solution to another and help shepherd in on location. This approach blends the benefits of software-as-a-service with more traditional in-house digital asset management strategies, wrote CMSWire contributor Jeff Lawrence. This hybrid on-premises/outsourcing model enables the company to focus on the areas most affected by a new transition through a smart process of delegation and targeted improvements.

Layer 4: B2B SaaS
The layer that most emphasizes a company's ability to have its cake and eat it too, full-scale B2B SaaS offers the full spectrum of solutions B2B managed services providers offer. It's the most sensible option for a company that needs to ramp up its B2B integration capabilities quickly and doesn't want to have to manage them itself as it focuses on other areas of business development. We can implement the integration system in our preferred data center so it can receive its full attention and infrastructure support. We work with the enterprise through the entire design and roll out process and stays on to continue offering management and support.

As E-Commerce Times contributor Jeffrey Kaplan observed, full-scale SaaS support is part of a trend away from out-of-the-box support and toward service solutions that are specific to a company's individual needs. The benefits of this system are evident as organizations improve supply chains, automate key processes and focus on industry-specific marketing tactics.

"The growing success of the SaaS and cloud movement also can be measured by the widening adoption of on-demand solutions in a broader array of market niches," Kaplan observed. "This is the manifestation of the long-tail market maturation process that many associate with today's Web and software-based environment." 

No matter the layer
The important thing to remember about our B2B managed services offerings is that we can shift the scope of our support as business needs change. B2B environments are constantly shifting, so it's important that B2B integration solutions always offer the highest level of ROI. We can ensure that this level of support is always available.

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