Thursday, November 13, 2008

EDI & B2B Intelligence & Metadata

When many people think of EDI or B2B systems they most often think of the of the following:
  • EDI translator software
  • VANs or AS2
  • File formats
  • B2B or EDI standards
  • Implementation Guide Editors and Testing suites
  • Web Services
  • Application Servers
  • Customer or supplier web portals
  • XML editors
  • Communication Protocols
These are all part of most EDI and B2B systems and are useful tools, but the most value components of a EDI and B2B system are the B2B metadata repositories (B2B MRM), and an effective database application to manage your business network ecosystem. The concept of a B2B MRM may include a number of different technologies, methodologies and strategies among them: canonical data models, global data types, universal mapping databases, auto-mapping applications, B2B standards repositories, test data generators, testing tools, trading partner management solutions (CRM for B2B), API and integration script libraries, web services repositories, etc.

The B2B MRM concept is strategically important because it could alter the competitive landscape of the EDI/B2B marketplace and traditional ways of implementing EDI and B2B. Critical B2B information concerning database schemas, mapping specifications, process/work flows and trading partner profiles are developed and stored not in the EDI and B2B vendors’ applications, but rather in an independent database in a B2B MRM.

The projected result of the B2B MRM concept would be to commoditize EDI and B2B solutions (adapters, mappers, translators, communication gateways, etc.) and to uncouple the intellectual assets (maps, process flows, trading partner details) and to make them application/vendor independent. This concept has the potential to free up the customer from the EDI/B2B software vendor and to make EDI translators and VANs commodity items that could be changed at will.

Customers who fully utilize the B2B MRM concept would have both the freedom and flexibility to move between EDI/B2B vendors or On-Demand EDI/B2B managed service offerings. This has the potential of revolutionizing the EDI/B2B software industry and could enable a significant shift in power from the EDI/B2B application vendor to the end user.

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