For many companies, all their trading of goods or services is with other companies. This is referred to business to business, or B2B for short. This sort of transaction is typified by the transactions that take place between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer or between a manufacturer and its suppliers. These transactions are characterised by relatively large volumes, competitive and stable prices, fast delivery times and, often, on a deferred payment basis. The first major step to provide computerised support was through the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which is still in wide scale use. However, the introduction of the Internet into the business world has seen B2B blossom with many predictions about the size of the market.
The introduction of the cloud and software as a service concept is now starting to be seen in the B2B supply chain market. The Aberdeen Group found in a report in 20091 that the interest in SaaS solutions was on the rise, particularly among top performing organisations. B2B integration as an outsourced service is nothing new. Vendors, for the last 10 years or so, have provided value-added networks (VANs) as shared, hosted services that integrate business partners using EDI and other protocols. This InDetail paper reviews a new approach from Netfira, an Australian company, whose solution has been aimed at the dealer and distribution network market.