What is B2B integration?

Business-to-business (B2B) integration is the automation of business processes and communication between two or more organizations. It allows them to work and trade more effectively with their customers, suppliers and business partners by automating key business processes. B2B integration software provides the architecture needed to digitize information and quickly route it through an organization’s trading ecosystem. 

What is a B2B integration platform?

A B2B integration platform helps companies integrate all their complex B2B and electronic data interchange (EDI) processes across their partner communities in a single gateway. The platform collects data from source applications, translates the data into standardized formats and then sends the documents to the business partner using the appropriate transport protocol. B2B integration software is available for on-premises use or integration services can be accessed through hosted cloud services. 

Why is B2B integration important?

Digitalization is pushing partner and customer expectations. Organizations are finding that slow, inefficient, error-prone manual processing of information is not sustainable in a digitally-connected world. And every business has their own mix of systems and applications for exchanging files and messages with partners. Disparate technologies make it difficult to communicate. 

To achieve goals like increasing revenue, speeding time to market and improving efficiencies, organizations need a successful business network — and that requires a modern B2B integration solution.¹ With the right B2B tools, organizations can digitally connect and communicate quickly and reliably. This can reduce the time it takes to get new products and services to market and help companies achieve the nimbleness and agility they need to compete.

Key capabilities of B2B integration

B2B integration platforms come with a wide variety of capabilities:

  • Communications adapters. Never say no to an onboarding request. Supports security-rich Internet communications protocols, including AS2, SFTP, MQ, HTTP, Connect:Direct and others.
  • Application integration. Includes adapters to connect to back-end systems, including databases, SAP as well as cloud object storage with AWS S3 Client Adapter.
  • Translation engine. Powerful any-to-any transformation. Converts documents from one format to another.
  • Mapping software. Enables the visualization of data fields and shows the relationships between documents.
  • Message tracking and reporting. Provides event management and reporting, auditing in centralized dashboards that can enable you to extend real-time activity and status information to your system administrators and your partners.
  • Encryption. Encrypt data at rest or in motion. Robust certificate management including support of modern ciphers and algorithms.
  • Data validation. Applies business rules with graphical business process modeling to the information being sent to identify any errors. 
  • Compression. Allows big files to be sent faster. Features include any size file and message transfer.  

A real-world example of B2B integration

Supply chain company tops 29 million transactions in a day

Li & Fung needed to ensure its supply chain management solution could scale to handle exponential spikes in transactions during China’s Singles’ Day sales event. The company worked with IBM Services to test and tune its IBM Sterling B2B Integrator solution, enabling it to process peak volumes of up to one million transactions per hour.

What is managed file transfer?


¹ "Driving strategic value with IBM Supply Chain Business Network," Chandana Gopal, Matthew Marden, IDC, Jan 2018. (PDF, 225 KB)