Today’s digitally transformed consumer has near total control over business. With this power shift, companies are losing control over their partner relationships. With compressed margins and so much data being shared at lightning speeds, companies are finding they need to transform their approach to commerce. In this new era, manufacturers need to conduct smarter commerce by adapting sourcing and procurement of goods and services based on customer demand. And, they are turning to cloud computing to gain control over the costs and complexity of their supply chain relationships.
Successful cloud computing demands “IT without boundaries”—systems and processes that break down traditional silos and simplify access to information in order to deliver better business results. Managed File Transfer, the act of transmitting files over a computer network or the Internet, is one area where cloud computing can play a significant role in improving key commerce business processes. Many companies share information with their customers, suppliers and partners through file transfers for a broad range of processes, including sharing sales data, payments files and customer records with critical business information such as product and pricing updates, inventory levels, sales data and promotional performance. In fact, the managed file transfer market is growing at an annual growth rate of 13 percent, expected to reach over $1 billion by 2015.
One such company, a household brand in the consumer goods manufacturing space, moved to IBM Sterling File Transfer as a way to reduce costs and complexity for its file transfer operations. The manufacturer eliminated two siloed systems, consolidating its file transfer processes on a single connection to the cloud that lessened the complexity and cost of managing multiple file transfer protocols. By having IBM manage the connections to its partners — in the cloud — the client is now able to focus its resources on other priority projects. The new service also provided the ability to monitor and track file transfers online, without having to install or maintain additional software. This was important because the company frequently received large point-of-sale data files from business partners over the weekend.
A survey of 500 companies across all major industries in North America and Europe indicate that many companies are turning to the cloud to manage these processes. The survey found that 59 percent of respondents will evaluate the use of cloud-based or outsourced services for file transfer in the next 6-12 months. For the majority of companies surveyed, the key business drivers behind cloud computing adoption are to gain more scalability and find a way to simplify supporting ever changing business-to-business (B2B) requirements in their industry.
In terms of scalability, the survey found:
- 84 percent indicated the number of file transfer transactions will increase.
- 69 percent indicated the average file sizes will increase.
The survey found that companies’ concerns about supporting changing B2B requirements stem from increasing numbers of B2B partners, many of whom have different formats and protocols for their file transfers. For example:
- 38 percent indicated that B2B partner connections and transfers are overly complex and controlled by internal groups with limited IT resources.
- 26 percent of the respondents indicated that managing a large number of connections was their biggest issue in B2B.
- 28 percent of respondents said that new business initiatives are forcing the recruitment and onboarding of new categories of B2B trading partners that they don’t have the resources, time or money to support.
To address these needs, IBM recently introduced IBM Sterling File Transfer Service, a cloud service for file-based business interactions with trading partners. With IBM Sterling File Transfer Service, clients can:
- Send these files to the cloud,
- Use the cloud to process, route and deliver the files to partners,
- Access the tool via the Internet to monitor, track and report file transfer activity,
- Offload partner setup, connection management and Help Desk support activities to IBM.
IBM helps clients exploit the power of cloud computing to transform their businesses. Today, IBM is the leader in MFT software, and very soon will lead the way in cloud-based file transfer services, thanks to the company’s “dial tone” reliable cloud-based B2B integration infrastructure built with the 30+ year pedigree of IBM’s market leading B2B & MFT software. In addition, the company offers skilled professionals to optimize clients’ global B2B file transfer operations and a broad portfolio of solutions, offered as a service and on-premise.