B2B integration enables businesses to electronically exchange documents, information and data on a system-to-system basis. The exchange can be with business partners, suppliers, financial institutions, customers, government, internal systems or any other organisation outside of theirs.
The data originates from a source application. It could be an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system like SAP or Oracle, an accounting package like MYOB, a customer relationship manager (CRM) solution like Salesforce or another application.
In the case of an ERP system, the data, which will be in a file format produced by the application, is typically mapped, or translated, to an industry standard like EDIFACT, GS1 XML or ANSI X12; think of a JPG being converted to a PNG file. The data can contain any information that is held in the ERP application, like purchase orders, invoices, sales data, forecasts and more.
Those files are sent to the recipient as a message via a message standard or protocol such as AS2, AS4, or SFTP. These standards and protocols vary in levels of security, performance and reliability and are sometimes chosen at an industry level but often dictated by your trading partner.
When your trading partner receives the data in the industry standard format (e.g. EDIFACT, GS1 XML or ANSI X12), they then convert it to the format their application requires and it is automatically input into their system. This mapping between data formats and the mediation between message standards and protocols is performed by a gateway. Alternatively, like our EDI Forms solutions, companies who are not fully integrated or don’t have an IT system can access the data from a web browser.
The exchange of messages associated with B2B integration is referred to as a conversation as it involves a number messages being sent and received as part of a transaction such as a purchase of goods or financial service.
Many organisations now require trade and reporting via B2B integration. It makes it easy for companies to manage their business communities, exchange information and trade. It removes the need for manually processing documents and it streamlines businesses processes.