B2B Application Integration: Why companies choose or not choose to implement B2BAI

Introduction : Globalization has dramatically changed the ways of conducting business, which in turn has led to a multitude of new opportunities and challenges for companies. The ever shifting business climate of today is fierce and for this reason companies have to be able to operate proactively, flexibly, and respond quickly to the changes, in order to attain or sustain a competitive advantage (Infoscaler Technology, 2001). We believe that Business-to-business application integration (B2BAI) is a highly topical subject today due to globalization, as the current business environment requires companies to be flexible in their business model in order to quickly respond and adapt to market changes. B2BAI is application integration done externally across company boundaries, with trading partners or suppliers, to handle requirements that businesses might have, like for example exchanging information between trading partners to support a supply chain (Linthicum, 2004).


The global business environment of today requires companies to be flexible, in order to quickly react and respond to the ever-changing market. Business-to-business application integration (B2BAI) can be seen as a tool which enables companies to stay competitive and it is often regarded by the theory as a must for survival in today’s fierce business environment. Eventhough the employment of a B2BAI strategy can generate a lot of advantages and opportunities for companies operating within today’s global business environment, there are still many challenges and problems to overcome in order to have a successful B2BAI solution.Based on this we found it highly interesting to see whether the theories positive outlook on B2BAI could be supported by an empirical research. In this essay we have therefore studied and identified the underlying reasons and the contributing factors to why or why not companies choose to integrate externally, from the perspective of IT-consulting agencies. Besides this, a description and an explanation regarding the concepts covered by the field of B2BAI have been made in order to facilitate the understanding for the reader. As our intention primarily was to investigate the reasons behind and the contributing factors to why or why not companies choose to integrate, we chose to make qualitative interviews. This, as we were in need of information which described the course of events and expressed individual opinions, in order to achieve the purpose of the essay. Regarding the selection of research objects for the research, the population consists of all IT-consulting agencies in Sweden. The research has however been delimited to a selection of the population, where the sample consists of three IT-consulting agencies located in Jönköping, with experience of B2BAI.One of the most interesting discoveries we have made in this research is that the empirical findings agree with the theory in regards of that globalization is a central factor contributing to why companies chose to invest in B2BAI. However, the respondents do not discuss all the advantages of B2BAI mentioned in the theory and emphasize slightly different underlying reasons for choosing to employ a B2BAI strategy. The most central reason for not choosing to employ a B2BAI strategy was according to the respondents due to the lack of knowledge regarding issues relating to the phenomenon and this have not been discussed in the theoretical framework. The challenges with B2BAI stated in the theory, were on the other hand not regarded as issues contributing to not choosing to implement B2BAI. We are under the impression that the advantages and the oppor-tunities with B2BAI carry more weight then the challenges, as the essays empirical findings indicate that the demand for B2BAI today is high and constantly growing.


1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Purpose
1.3 Perspective & stakeholders
1.4 Delimitation
1.5 Disposition
2 Knowledge development
2.1 Definitions of concepts
2.1.1 Application Integration (AI)
2.1.2 Business-to-business application integration (B2BAI)
2.1.3 Enterprise application integration (EAI)
2.1.4 IT-investments
2.1.5 Business value
2.2 Knowledge characterization
2.3 Knowledge strategy
3 Method
3.1 Data Collection
3.1.1 Primary data
3.1.2 Secondary data
3.2 Theory of science
3.3 Research approach
3.4 Empirical research method
3.4.1 Interviews
3.4.2 Construction of questions
3.4.3 Selection of respondents
3.4.4 Presentation of empirical findings
3.5 Verification of information gathered
3.5.1 Applicability
3.5.2 Plausibility
3.5.3 Trustworthiness
3.5.4 Conscientiousness
4 Theoretical framework
4.1 Background of B2BAI
4.2 Electronic commerce
4.2.1 EDI
4.3 EAI versus B2BAI
4.4 B2BAI
4.5 Types of B2BAI strategies
4.5.1 Information-oriented
4.5.2 Portal-Oriented
4.5.3 Business Process Integration-Oriented
4.5.4 Service-oriented
4.6 SOA – Service Oriented Architecture
4.6.1 Web services
4.7 Middleware
4.7.1 Point-to-point middleware
4.7.2 Many-to-many middleware
4.7.3 Synchronous versus Asynchronous middleware
4.7.4 Message oriented middleware – IBM WebSphere MQ
4.7.5 Integration brokers – Biztalk server
4.8 Standards
4.8.1 XML
4.8.2 BizTalk framework
5 Empirical framework/Result
6 Analysis
6.1 The concept of B2BAI and EAI
6.2 History and experience of B2BAI
6.3 The order of priority for EAI and B2BAI
6.4 The demand for B2BAI today
6.5 Types of organizations interested in B2BAI
6.6 Reasons for choosing B2BAI
6.7 Reasons for not choosing B2BAI
6.8 Integration strategies
6.9 Techniques and standards utilized
6.10 Requirements for a successful B2BAI solution
6.11 Common mistakes when implementing B2BAI solutions
6.12 The current state and the future of B2BAI technology
6.13 Concluding reflections
7 Conclusions
7.1 Reasons for choosing to implement B2BAI
7.2 Reasons for not choosing to implement B2BAI
8 Final discussion
8.1 Method discussion
8.2 Reflections
8.3 Further research
8.4 Acknowledgement

Author: Tullgren, Melike,Uyanik, Viktoria

Source: Jönköping University

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