Get integrated

Paul Tatam, managing director UK, SEEBURGER, discusses the benefits of using a single platform for transactions of all types

11/06/2013

Significant business benefits come with replacing outdated, disparate systems with a single platform that can handle all types of data transfer securely and reliably. First, the following benefits are associated with using a single platform for transferring both structured and unstructured data:

 

  1. Reduces risk, cuts operating costs, improves customer service, shortens time to market
  2. Speeds value to the business
  3. Streamlines, protects and accelerates supply chain processes and business operations
  4. Speeds up onboarding of trading partners—even those with limited technology or expertise
  5. Reduces the threat of data being misdirected, late, lost or stolen

Ensures compliance with government, industry and customer privacy and security mandates Then there are the benefits associated with increased visibility:

 

  • ‘Single source of the truth.’ It is difficult to get accurate answers and insights when data resides in multiple systems. Say, for example, a customer sends an inquiry about the status of an order that came in a few days ago. If the customer service agent has to go to multiple systems to piece together an answer, there are many opportunities for inaccuracy and inefficiency to creep in. Having a single platform means that employees need to check only one place to get an answer—increasing speed and accuracy, both of which boost customer satisfaction and confidence. Companies can also elect to give their customers and trading partners’ access to the same data their internal people use, an added bonus.
  • Consistent capabilities, so employees won’t get stranded, unable to reach an answer because they are on the wrong system.
  • Consolidated database for reporting and a single place for all the information on what happened with transactions, including file transfers and orders. As noted above, having answers reside in one place makes life easier for employees, customers and trading partners.
  • Consistent interface within the application. When the vendor writes the application with full functionality from the ground up, having a consistent interface is a major benefit. Some vendors cobble together a solution from a variety of point applications, which adds to the training burden and often hampers usability.

With proper consolidation and modernisation, IT can help the business move more quickly and deliver higher levels of service across the supply chain, at less cost. You can roll out new revenue-generating services, connect new trading partners, and troubleshoot operational problems much more quickly, while more easily accommodating supply chain growth and diversification. You can extend your SAP business processes — and create and deploy new processes — much more easily. You can protect your business better by protecting your data better, to the farthest edges of your supply chain — even as your supply chain grows and changes. To achieve these advantages, however, every business first has to overcome several legacy problems, including:

 

  • Disparate, fragmented and departmental silo systems, which deliver specific functions but usually at a high cost 
  • Legacy applications, which require multiple patch upgrades and ongoing fixes to comply with ever evolving operating and application infrastructure 
  • Inconsistent visibility of various B2B or file interfaces across the business, which complicates governance and increases business risIn large supply chains that require multiple integration applications, it’s also very common to find inconsistent synchronisation of production and logistics processes.These inconsistent internal processes make external integration with your trading partner ecosystem difficult, slow, costly and risky. You need to efficiently link with not only your largest, most technically sophisticated supplier but also your smallest Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) challenged supplier.

If you’re seeking to consolidate legacy tools and applications, you should ideally replace them with a single solution that can deliver a complete set of modern functions, including end-to-end, business-level monitoring/reporting; and industry-specific integration components (processes, mappings, adapters) that work out-of-the-box. If you’re an SAP user, you should additionally look for functions that can ‘get inside’ SAP to simplify the task of extending SAP processes across the supply chain – processes such as Order-to-Cash, Purchase-to-Pay and B2B/Supply Chain Monitoring.

With such functionality in place, you’ll no longer have to reinvent the wheel each time you want to offer a new service or onboard a new trading partner. You’ll be able to respond much more quickly and decisively because your focus will be on the business problem – and not the internal mechanics of integrating data with people, partners and processes. And, with end-to-end visibility, both your business users and your IT people can work together logically and productively to ensure that each step of the supply chain process is running smoothly, improving customer satisfaction. All of this means less waste, bigger rewards, and steadier business.

Technology has advanced to the point where every well-run global business can afford to benefit from a consolidated EDI, B2B and file transfer infrastructure. You’ll gain cost savings, a path to IT innovation, and an infrastructure that can more easily expand with the growing needs of the business.