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.