Supply chain leaders are under pressure to meet and exceed customer expectations and control costs while taking on new business demands. As portions of a supplier’s customer base moves to API-oriented transactions, this puts stress on the suppliers to adapt in order to keep existing revenue. Oftentimes, these suppliers do not have the ability to address these API directives themselves and require solutions that allow them to address their customer requirements without making wholesale changes on their side.

In addition to changing external requirements, there are also internal requirements driving the need for different approaches as well. Historically companies were content with data being dropped off at their front door and from there they would collect and in turn move it into their ERP systems. This often presented a break in visibility and caused users to investigate in multiple areas when researching issues. Having deeper integration with the back-end systems provides for a more efficient movement of data and can provide a more holistic view for tracking issues.

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Sterling Supply Chain Business Network (SCBN) helps solve these challenges by introducing the IBM Supply Chain Business Network B2B API Gateway that addresses a variety of API-related use cases in addition to traditional B2B/EDI-related use cases. Here are some of the benefits:

Common platform to address EDI and API

An all-in-one platform addresses API, EDI, and hybrid use cases (B2B EDI and API). Data flows through the same platform regardless of use case. Companies benefit from not having to invest in a separate infrastructure for API-based transactions. A single solution approach that leverages existing resources is efficient, effective, and optimizes collaboration with trading partners.

Visibility and issue resolution in a single dashboard regardless of transaction type

With API and EDI unified in one platform, users can view and manage all customer, partner, and supplier transactions in a single view. From the InFlight dashboard, users can filter out categories like failed documents and drill down for technical details. No more switching from system to system to check status or troubleshoot issues for different transaction types. Better visibility enables any user to find the status of a transaction and respond to customer inquiries without involving IT.

Leverage predefined API formats

Users can optionally use their own API formats or use predefined API formats. Sterling B2B API Gateway provides predefined API formats for standard transaction types like purchase orders and shipment notifications. Predefined API formats address the majority of the document types that are transacted through SCBN today with more API formats being added. Sterling B2B API Gateway is designed to allow new API formats to be added to meet trading partner API workflow requirements.

Fully managed service or self-service option

Like other capabilities in Sterling Supply Chain Business Network, Sterling B2B API Gateway is available as a fully managed service or a self-service option. For companies interested in managing the day-to-day partner onboarding activities related to their API workflows, the self-service option gives companies the ability to administer and manage their trading partner community and connections.

Flexibility in deployment options and direct data integration

When it comes to adopting APIs, there are quite a few factors to consider. Having prebuilt connectors for ERP, CRM, HR applications that enable direct data integration with back-end systems can be key in how quickly and smoothly your systems can interact other components in your supply chain solution. With the optional AppConnect add-on, organizations gain additional flexibility to address a diversity of B2B API related use cases.

Flexible usage and purchasing options

Sterling Supply Chain Business Network has created a flexible packaging structure to support multiple factors involved in designing API and API to EDI hybrid workflows for B2B transactions. The Sterling Supply Chain Business Network service team will review your workflow requirements, API options, services required, and design a solution to meet your requirements.

With this capability now available and combined with the existing Sterling Supply Chain Business Network solution, customers have the ability to accelerate growth and simplify operations by utilizing the power and flexibility the Sterling Supply Chain Business Network provides. This approach allows you to leverage your existing investment while at the same time address emerging requirements in a single platform solution. By partnering with an industry leader in both API and EDI solutions, this provides you with the security and peace of mind going forward regardless of the specifics of your solution requirements.

For more information, be sure to watch the replay of the Supply Chain Summit discussions on B2B APIs, and read the whitepaper on the future of B2B transactions which combine APIs with EDI.

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