SAP recently released our first set of prepackaged Business to Business (B2B) integration modules for our Cloud Integration service. This first set of B2B modules, which have been posted to our Integration content catalog, include both EDIFACT and ASC-X12 based capabilities. Over the coming months additional B2B content will be added to the catalog further enhancing our B2B capabilities.
The addition of B2B integration functionality to our Cloud Integration service demonstrates SAP’s continued investment and rapid innovation in the cloud integration space. Our Cloud Integration services now feature multiple functional areas, including but not limited to API Management, Data Integration, Enterprise Messaging, Internet of Things, Process Integration, and Workflow service. It’s great to see SAP’s engineering and development teams executing on the company’s overall cloud strategy, in turn providing our customers with comprehensive, intuitive and robust integration tooling.
B2B functionality is important to companies around the globe because it enables them to automate their interactions with related third parties in an efficient and real-time manner. By leveraging industry standards companies can improve data quality, accuracy and improve overall visibility. B2B based functionality also helps companies differentiate their product and service offerings, increase their sales through nimble and agile communication as well as enabling them to lower their operational costs.
B2B-based functionality has always been an important part of doing business. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) first came to the forefront of commercial operations in the 1850’s when Samuel Morse’s code was first used by the telegraph companies to send information electronically. In the 1960s and 1970s organizations like Transportation Data Coordinating Committee (TDCC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) began the formalization of EDI syntax rules which allowed for the exchange of information around formalized terms. In these ultra-competitive and hyper-connected days of globalization and digital transformation, efficiently communicating with a company’s customer and supplier base is more important than ever before.
Having B2B capabilities enables companies to provide their customer base with personalized offers, the ability to make changes in real-time and to facilitate customer service anytime and anywhere. This flexibility and customer focused capability provides B2B users with material competitive advantages through increased revenues, customer satisfaction and ultimately long term customer relations.
The SAP Cloud Integration ASC-X12 packages that I previously referenced include versions 4001 and 5001. 4001 is by far the most popular standard that the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) has released and therefore made the most sense to release first to the SAP ecosystem. The sort of B2B communications that are supported in the prepackaged content includes important items that are vital for a company’s interaction with customers and partners. Concepts supported include: Purchase order, acknowledgement, change requests, invoice, payment, shipping instructions, return authorization, inventory inquiry, etc.
5001 represents a follow up ASC major release that is gaining in popularity. Overall for each ASC version SAP has documented seventeen B2B information exchange scenarios. On the United Nations/EDIFACT front Versions D.01B, D.96A and D.98A are all supported (version 3, batch mode). Similar to the ASC content that SAP has released, for UN/EDIFACT versions we provide the ability to support multiple syntax rules for interactive exchange of data. For these UN/EDIFACT standards we currently have the ability to support fourteen UN/EDIFACT B2B concepts including capabilities such as sales data report, dispatch advice, forwarding and shipment consolidation, inventory report, etc.
As customers continue to migrate (or augment) their on-premise IT landscapes to the cloud, having solid B2B interfaces and integration tooling in the cloud will enable enterprises to continue this vital part of their digital transformation strategy. Not only can companies reduce costs by moving to the cloud, companies can also benefit from increased productivity and adoption of new business models and hopefully through the use of modern B2B technologies, the pursuit of new commercial endeavors with their customers, prospects, partners and suppliers.
If you are interested in learning more about our B2B Cloud Integration capabilities, my colleague Sabarish TS recently wrote the following blog post that describes in detail two scenarios where the recently released UN/EDIFACT and ASC-X12 integration content can be leveraged. This blog post provides in-depth review of the B2B content and concepts I have outlined in this introductory blog. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment or question below, I will be happy to reply or follow up with you.