March 11, 2016

Business to Business Integration

B2B integration automates the transfer of information between business partners, customers, suppliers and vendors.  Clearly, the advantages of automating the exchange are speed and quality over using manual processes.   However, there is complexity in extracting information out of one system and inputting the information into a completely separate system where it can be used.  Each business operates with unique software implementations and architectures.  And each software application vendor, whether it offers traditional software or cloud services, offers different ways to extract and insert data. SaaS vendors typically offer an API (application programming interface) that reads, writes or updates database fields tied to their applications. Larger ERP vendors offer their own middleware applications with their software suites.  These middleware packages make it easy to send data back and forth to ERP applications, but come with a price tag.  Not every software application vendor offers sophisticated APIs or specialized middleware, but almost every vendor does offer a utility to extract data or insert it in bulk, to or from a file system.  Finally, many legacy software applications offer no easy way to get data in or out outside of custom solutions.  With a wide variety of software in play, it is critical to understand the variety of tools and techniques to enable B2B integration.

The employees of Brainspire have faced many unique integration challenges, many times extracting data from legacy systems for input into new systems or extracting information from the new applications we build into a client’s ERP system.  While we are not a systems integrator (implementing new ERP solutions) we are extremely efficient at integrating to 3rd party ERP systems including SAP, Oracle, JDEdwards, NetSuite and Dynamics just to name a few.  We have even created APIs for legacy systems to enable integration between business partners.

As an example, Brainspire was asked to build a custom fleet routing system for a local trucking company.  This client delivers and installs over 300 appliances daily, 6 days per week.  Manual processes dominated much of their day as they were comparing print outs of inventory and delivery addresses to appliances in the warehouse being prepared for delivery.  It was a painstaking and time consuming process just to figure out which appliance needed to be loaded on each truck.  Brainspire developers automated the entire planning, tracking and routing process with a custom inventory and routing software application.  Key components of the solution were B2B integrations with Bing Maps, GE Appliances and Home Depot – each having a unique API, or file extract process.