In ASEAN’s digital integration framework, 2 out of 5 priorities cite leveraging the power of B2B integration and the Cloud.

The last few years have seen massive disruptions in the business landscape across the Asia Pacific region. More than ever, there has been ongoing pressure from innovators—entrepreneurs, newcomers, challengers, and upstarts—who are rapidly creating new markets, building new value networks and displacing long-established leaders. 

As they shape consumer expectations and raise the bar with rapid service options, these innovators are also building new value nets and revolutionizing the way partnerships work—in turn, significantly changing the playing field.

With innovators moving fast to be first, the pace at which organizations need to do business should increase exponentially as well. On this front, technology has become a key enabler, accelerating the speed of market and allowing businesses to stay ahead of the pack.

As businesses focus on improving cooperation and communication across the value chain, B2B integration has emerged to become a key business imperative. No longer merely regarded as a challenge for the Chief Information Officer to tackle, B2B integration presents an opportunity for businesses to ensure efficiencies at scale across an organization’s partner and supplier ecosystem, encompassing operational processes such as onboarding partners and invoicing suppliers. This trend is seen to continue on in 2020, with B2B integration getting a new lease on life in the cloud.

Betting on the cloud to drive business productivity

Businesses and industries in Asia Pacific are collaborating and exchanging data like never before. According to a study by McKinsey, cross-border data flows have increased by 148 times since 2005. Hence, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of organizations across the region are looking at B2B integration as a means to offer more flexibility, more efficiency and a faster approach to partner operations.

As partner ecosystems become even more woven into an organization’s fabric, moving B2B integration to the cloud allows businesses to fully capitalize on the cloud’s potential—empowering them to successfully manage vast networks of partners while increasing business velocity and sparking innovation.

Following ASEAN’s most recent digital integration framework, where 2 out of 5 priorities are closely related to harnessing the power of integration to coordinate and facilitate B2B business interactions across region, cloud-based B2B integration will allow companies to experience significant reductions in infrastructure, maintenance and personnel costs associated with older, on-premises solutions. This is because subscribing to a cloud-pricing model allows businesses in the region to buy only what they require, translating to a tighter control of costs.

Beyond cost benefits, Software as a service (SaaS) electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions offer intuitive accessibility, visibility and easy navigation with fewer clicks in the system. Moving B2B integration to the cloud empowers businesses to easily manage operational transactions across the partner network, with clear and well-organized, user-friendly interfaces. 

Cloud-based EDI solutions can likewise accelerate the process of onboarding partners, allowing businesses to accomplish the task in minutes, instead of days or weeks. With the substantial improvements in user experience, organizations can then speed up new profile setups, associated documentation requirements and communication preferences for trading partners. 

Optimizing B2B integration in 2020

Integration has truly stepped into the spotlight, serving as a silent enabler of digital business. As businesses work towards scaling up further, many organizations in the region are quickly realizing the benefits provided by a fully-hosted cloud platform that enables them to quickly ramp-up B2B transactions, trading partners and industry standards. On this front, never has it been more pressing to drive the democratization of integration as disruptive innovation takes centre stage in organizations across Asia Pacific today. This is why adopting a multi-function integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) [one that supports B2B integration, application programming interfaces, hybrid integration and the Internet of Things] has become key to driving enhanced connectivity across the partner value chain. 

As the range of mobile apps, cloud services, data sources and devices become increasingly interwoven in the business network, having a unified integration, API, B2B and IoT platform allows businesses to break down silos, connect any endpoint, and foster greater collaboration in the partner and supplier ecosystem. Being an essential element of a modern, digital business strategy, iPaaS now has the vast potential to simplify and accelerate the development, deployment and maintenance of integrations in the cloud. As a result it will extend an organization’s core business applications and deliver new value. 

Today, there is a strengthened need for readily available on-premise, cloud and mobile data solutions that can allow organizations to consistently populate business documents with information to accelerate the speed of doing business. It is no wonder then that enterprises today have ranked hybrid as the ideal IT operating model—a trend that can only increase in 2020 as organizations demand flexibility to ensure critical data and systems are protected while keeping costs at bay. 

For that reason, hybrid integration isn’t an alternative architecture, but the only architecture if organizations wish to hone a competitive advantage to spur business growth. Eventually, the Integration of Things will drive the transformation of organizations today, and beyond 2020.