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How Business Process Integration Is Reinventing B2B

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In this article, B2B expert Andre Yee examines business to business process integration and tells why all B2B exchanges are headed in this direction.
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If you think that B2B transactions are about XML document exchange, think again! As B2B extends to a more scalable model, encompassing networked e-markets, managing the business processes that govern the B2B interactions becomes imperative. In short, it's all about the B2B process. Making this work requires leveraging a new genre of business process integration (BPI) products.

As I discussed in my first article, this is exactly where all B2B exchanges are headed, defined by a B2B integration (B2Bi) pattern known as B2B process integration. In this article, I briefly examine what this BPI technology is all about.

Is BPI Just Another Three-Letter Acronym?

BPI has emerged in recent months as industry analysts have recognized just how important it is to be able to manage B2B processes. In many ways, this has led to the recasting of automated production workflow products within the context of B2Bi. This new breed of BPI products carry over none of the document management focus of prior workflow engines, focusing instead on providing tools to define and deploy an integrated business process.

I understand some of the concern about this apparent second coming of workflow, especially because the first wave of workflow had limited practical success. However, B2B process integration provides a far more compelling business model than the traditional workflow model. Using workflow for intra-enterprise deployment is generally about operational efficiency. It is about improving productivity, reducing cost, and even delivering vague promises of a paperless office. B2B process integration is about enabling a richer trading model between partners. It's about driving revenue—which is far more compelling, not to mention absolutely necessary for B2B to scale in the future.

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