TradeCentric’s Michael Sonier explains why your business needs to modernize its buying and selling processes.
The past few years have highlighted the gap between early adopters and laggards of automation and digitization. Buyers and suppliers who invest in integration capabilities between e-commerce platforms and e-procurement systems have outperformed their competitors – and they are reaping the benefits through improved efficiency and stronger relationships. strong with their business partners.
While many industry leaders want to provide a more sophisticated commerce experience, for too many people, B2B commerce remains a manual and tedious process. Digitization efforts place a heavy burden on often already overstretched teams, including IT, e-commerce and digital procurement.
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Industry leaders, especially those in the technology sector, must be more resourceful than ever to match the speed and volume of the digitization demands of today’s enterprises.
Given the current environment, C-level executives and IT managers would be wise to take proactive steps that reduce the workload associated with integrating and automating e-commerce and e-procurement systems . As the B2B industry embraces digitalization, it’s time for businesses to modernize time-consuming buying and selling processes while evolving connectivity.
Acceleration of the time to value
Automation and integration are key technology areas for leading B2B buyers and suppliers. Organizations are implementing solutions such as PunchOut, purchase order (PO) automation, and invoice automation to support seamless digital commerce. However, companies trying to tackle integrations in-house inevitably face the complexity of performing this type of integration.
First of all, developing these integrations takes time. Each solution requires a separate connection. Companies that choose to develop and maintain these integrations in-house need to understand the hours of development and testing work required to ensure these systems are properly configured and working as they should. The process can be overwhelming for teams that have never been exposed to this type of integration. And even if a team has created 10, 20, or even more than 30 integrations, there is still time needed to build each integration. In our experience, having implemented over 15,000 of these integrations, the nuances of source system implementations mean that connecting routes and maintaining them is rarely plug and play.
Successful integration requires expertise to understand the nuances of B2B commerce with a platform flexible enough to accommodate the intricacies of buyer and supplier systems. Third-party integration solution providers specialize in creating these integrations and often have prebuilt connectors that speed up the integration process. Since B2B commerce integration is the sole focus of these vendors, they are able to dramatically speed up the initial onboarding while managing the ongoing maintenance of these integrations.
Use third parties to redirect and reallocate its resources
Technology leaders are feeling the pressure from all parts of the business to keep pace with digitalization. Outsourcing to third parties is a way for teams to fulfill a portion of incoming requests so employees can focus on other areas of the business.
Too often companies seek to deploy technology for technology’s sake, but this can be counterproductive if it leads to another platform or system for teams to manage. Ideally, technology platforms should make life easier for employees, not create more work.
The integration of e-commerce and e-procurement is no exception. Many IT teams respond to requests to develop integrations between the two systems, but this can be a challenge. Most systems don’t speak the same language, and creating a seamless communication flow can be cumbersome, if not impossible. An onboarding can take months, and then IT teams must manage and maintain that connection going forward.
Now imagine having to create, manage, and maintain dozens or hundreds of these integrations simultaneously, all while e-commerce and e-procurement systems are constantly pushing updates. It’s a surefire way to drain resources and burn out employees, while increasing FTE requirements and robbing them of their ability to serve other areas of the organization. Managing and maintaining these connections on an ongoing basis is as big a challenge to solve as developing the integrations themselves. Hiring a third party to create and maintain these integrations not only saves money and resources, but also saves employee sanity.
Improve digital dexterity
Harvard Business Review defines digital dexterity as “the ambition and ability to use technology for better business results”. Gartner reports that high digital dexterity in an organization increases the likelihood of successful digital transformation.
Despite this, a Gartner survey found that 83% of leaders struggle to make lasting and meaningful change related to digital transformation. This begs the question, “If digital dexterity is so important to business, why are so few companies able to successfully achieve it?”
Many factors contribute to low digital dexterity, but one often overlooked factor is the inability of technology teams to focus on fewer key strategic technology initiatives. It’s no surprise that IT teams are stretched. How to explore the innovative technologies that support digital transformation if they are constantly bogged down in manual and tedious tasks? Outsourcing the development and maintenance of complex integrations to a third-party solution provider is absolutely essential to unlocking the full digital dexterity potential of a technology team.
Digital transformation is more important than ever, and technology leaders play a critical role in driving digitalization within the business. It is in the interest of business leaders to strategically partner with third-party technology providers who have the resources and expertise to support integration and automation within B2B commerce so that their teams can focus on technology innovations that drive increased business value.
Michael Sonier is Vice President of Products at Trade-centricthe global leader in B2B commerce integration, specializing in connecting e-commerce platforms to eProcurement and ERP systems.