Me: I want to somehow integrate the data in my marketing automation software with the data in XYZ company’s marketing automation software. Can you give them API access to our marketing automation application?
IT: No. Once they have this access, they can pull data out of our application anytime they want.
Me: Okay. What do you suggest?
IT: We can create a secure FTP server for you to use to exchange data.
Me: Fine. Whatever. I don’t care how it’s done, I just want my highly paid staff member to stop spending her time manually uploading CSV files from XYZ company into my marketing automation software.
IT: Great. We’ll reach out to XYZ company’s IT department and create a plan. This should take us about 8 weeks…3 months at the most.
Me: WHAT?! I don’t have that long…I need to jumpstart this process NOW. Why does it take so long to set up a connection?!
If this sounds familiar, I’ve got the answer for you. In short, what IT is doing in the above conversation is not actually B2B integration. What they’re doing is creating a workaround that will allow two companies to exchange data securely. The REASON it takes so long is that when two companies decide to set up a data connection, they have to get two IT departments together and agree on a number of things.
It’s not that each of these items is particularly complicated, or can’t be addressed in a series of back-and-forth emails or one very long (and boring, I imagine) meeting. It’s that your IT department has other tasks to accomplish – new business applications to write, other applications within the company to integrate, trouble tickets to address, infrastructure to manage, disaster recovery plans to create, and other business users to support (among others). If you add the workload of your own over-stretched IT department to that of XYZ company’s, then getting them together in one shot to address the above 6 items can be as tricky as winning the lottery.
The way B2B integration has been done is almost as old as your mother’s 70’s disco outfit. That's why B2B integration is an industry ripe for upending, and that’s just what we’re doing at Adeptia. And that's also why I’m so excited to have joined as our VP of Marketing. I’m curious…have you had a similar challenge at your company? If so, tell me in a comment below.