Connections are critical in today’s B2B environment. Integration serves not only to keep essential business flowing, but also to fuel innovation as companies evolve to answer modern business demands. Recognizing the value that integration capabilities deliver, more businesses are growing their investment in B2B integration and, in turn, B2B integration service providers. But how we evaluate current and potential providers is changing.
When it comes to navigating the new realities of the B2B integration market — variables referenced below — asking the right questions of a B2B integration service provider can offer insight into how they can help you modernize and future-proof your efforts.
Before we dive deeper into their value, let’s start with a basic rundown of the questions:
- How can you help us manage growing staffing challenges?
- What can I do now to prepare for the future of electronic data integration?
- How do your B2B/EDI integrations support an increasingly remote workforce?
- What kind of support do you offer for e-invoicing?
- Is it time to break up with my legacy EDI systems?
1. How can you help us manage growing staffing challenges?
While ‘The Great Resignation’ once referred to the mass exodus of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the definition has evolved to how organizations are coping with this talent shortage.
EDI experts have been working in the field for a long time, and many started planning for retirement in the past few years, making it even harder to find fresh perspectives. One solution is advancing a company’s digital infrastructure from within.
Considering most enterprises rely on a combination of API and EDI integrations, your B2B integration service provider should have the capabilities to merge the two for a consistent platform experience. Greater agility paired with fewer risks enables enterprises to take advantage of this ‘$1 trillion opportunity.’
2. What can I do now to prepare for the future of electronic data integration?
You’ll often hear talk about migrating electronic data interchange (EDI) to API solutions to modernize B2B operations. And we understand: by 2023, it’s projected APIs will facilitate 50% of B2B transactions. But at the same time, EDI accounts for nearly 77% of all B2B digital sales.
Rather than focusing on an EDI to API migration, your B2B integration service provider should encourage the use of a streamlined platform for business connectivity that bridges legacy systems and new SaaS solutions. While saving the time and cost of a full migration, making use of existing EDI connections provides greater agility in meeting industry protocols and driving innovation.
3. How do your B2B/EDI integrations support an increasingly remote workforce?
By the end of 2022, data scientists at Ladders estimate that 25% of all professional jobs in North America would be remote. And that growth is only expected to continue into 2023.
In this context, it’s critical that employees have the means to freely collaborate with their own colleagues internally and externally with partner ecosystems. You’ll want to find a B2B integration service provider that prioritizes flexibility and scalability so you can enable more transactions (without added travel costs) while adhering to evolving security and policy regulations.
4. What kind of support do you offer for e-invoicing?
While e-invoicing has become a mandate in European countries for companies doing business with the public sector (via PEPPOL, Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line), it’s also established a notable footprint in other countries like Canada, the U.S., and Latin America.
More and more countries are moving to continuous transaction control (CTC), whether prompted by regulation (such as in France, Mexico, or Poland) or to tackle integration complexity and keep up with the speed of modern business. This adoption of e-invoicing has minimized time and costs, enabled faster payments, reduced manual errors, and simplified archiving for tax audits.
With pilot programs launched to establish a B2B invoice exchange framework for 2023, it’s the optimal time for businesses to get in front of simplifying e-invoicing adoption. By asking this question of your B2B integration service provider, you’ll get a sense for how they can get up and running as well as manage regulatory and technical requirements.
5. Is it time to break up with my legacy EDI systems?
The EDI systems that businesses have relied on for years are starting to show their age. Not only are these systems costly to operate and maintain, but when seasoned IT personnel retire — ones that know the system inside and out — they take a knowledge base with them that is difficult to translate to a younger workforce.
As a trusted resource, your B2B integration service provider should be able to tell you if the useful life of your legacy system must come to an end — and if so, what next steps should be taken. The more flexibility you have in the way you adopt the cloud, the faster you’ll be able to modernize your IT infrastructure while reducing business and technical risks.
EDI transactions are only a small part of a B2B integration platform. Learn what else you should expect in 2023.