When considering a B2B integration strategy, it is likely that one of your major goals is to achieve a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.
It is worth noting, though, that B2B integration does not necessarily confer a competitive edge. Choosing your integration delivery mechanism poorly could even mean you lose advantages you now have. Choosing wisely virtually ensures that you will differentiate your brand from that of competitors.
So, how can you sharpen your competitive edge with B2B integration? The key is to examine integration solutions carefully, considering both your current situation and your plans for the future.
What Kinds of B2B Integration Strategies Are Out There?
As to the choice of the delivery mechanism, there are four types of B2B integration strategies available: on-premises, hosted, cloud, and hybrid. What are the differences between them?
On-premises B2B integration means that integration software is installed on-site at an organization. Hosted B2B integration refers to the installation of integration software at an off-site location. Cloud B2B integration involves delivering integration software over the Internet, while a hybrid approach combines two or more strategies.
Integration Factors to Consider that Impact Competitive Advantage
A recent blog mentioned 31 factors to consider when choosing your integration delivery mechanism. Of those considerations, which ones can confer a significant advantage that drives your organization to the next level and helps you leave your competitors far behind? Here is a quick breakdown:
- Types of integration to be supported
- The extent of customization possible
- The level of application integration possible
- Workflow and collaboration possible
- The level of visibility and reporting possible
- The ability to streamline compliance and certifications
These are just some factors that can either help you get a leg up on the competition or cause you to lag behind the crowd. When examining your integration options, it makes sense to consider each factor in your organization and the wider marketplace.
How Does Your B2B Integration Strategy Affect Your Competitive Edge?
To illustrate, consider just a few factors and how they impact your standing among your competitors.
The advent of cloud technologies has had a significant impact on the way companies do business. It is cost-effective because you do not have to purchase hardware and the implementation time is short. Those are two very compelling reasons to consider cloud B2B integration software but remember that cost and fast implementation time are only two parts of a larger picture.
Although on-premises B2B integration requires a larger upfront investment, it might pay off eventually thanks to the competitive advantage it brings. Here is why an on-premises B2B integration approach might be the right choice for you. If you need a great deal of customization or you must integrate a wide variety of data sources, cloud B2B integration is more expensive and more time-consuming. Cloud B2B integration software is not designed for easy customization or integration; it is an out-of-the-box solution.
The beauty of cloud B2B integration software solutions are that vendors create it once and implement it in many instances. That means it will have the same look and feel for all of its customers, which could be bad news for you. Your competitors could be using the same software, and your clients would have a hard time differentiating you from those competitors. Because cloud B2B integration software presents such customization challenges, the standard version of these solutions might not fit into your customers’ workflow.
B2B integration solutions present a competitive advantage; they make it easier to share and receive mission-critical information between you and your trading partners. However, you cannot overlook the pros and cons of each B2B integration approach because the solution you choose can greatly influence your relationship with your customer. You must choose an integration solution that allows you to deliver superior service to your clients; that is a soft cost that you must consider during your selection process. For expert advice on finding the right B2B integration approach for you, contact us today!