Author Archives: Jim Albright

About Jim Albright

Jim Albright Vice President, Marketing Jim Albright joined EXTOL in 2012 with more than a decade of marketing experience, primarily with hardware, software and technical services companies across multiple channels. Prior to joining EXTOL, Mr. Albright had led the successful development and execution of product and branding campaigns that have significantly expanded visibility and awareness for globally positioned technology companies.

11 Ways Food & Grocery Suppliers Use Data Integration as an Advantage

High transaction volumes, limited product shelf life, variable demand, thin margins, and competition from non-traditional outlets are just some of the endemic factors that drive Food and Grocery suppliers toward finding more efficient means of managing their operations.

Food Grocery SupplyBusinesses need the scalability, efficiency, and time savings to respond to unexpected demand, minimize time to market, improve vendor scorecard ratings, and achieve revenue and profitability targets with predictability.

To remain competitive, reduce process bottlenecks that lower costs, and quickly satisfy partner demands, Food and Grocery suppliers must eliminate expensive, piecemeal data integration technology and embrace a unified solution that makes important business goals easier to attain:

Achieve transaction visibility and traceability
Safety regulations, including tracking of products from foreign sources, requires timely access to supply chain data. A central integration platform provides real-time visibility and alerts so you can verify orders, shipments, and other events and respond more quickly to exceptions.

Reduce processing cycle times for perishables and other short shelf-life items
Streamline time-critical processes by integrating directly with ERP, warehouse management, and other applications. Turn around responses to partners in near-real time.

Implement demand-driven replenishment
Support VMI, JIT replenishment, and other demand-driven processes, by triggering replenishment from demand signals generated by RFID events or POS transactions.

Gain flexibility to integrate with trading partners on their terms
Connect with retailers, suppliers, and other trading partners using their preferred protocols and document types. A centralized integration platform makes it easy for others to do business with you by implementing custom integrations faster and with less effort.

On-board new customers and suppliers fast
A centralized integration platform accelerates delivery of application data and process changes, so you can engage sooner with trading partners.

Comply more easily with key partner requirements
Implement Order-to-Cash, Procure-to-Pay, and other B2B processes, including Ship Destination Quantity (SDQ) and other specialized transactions.

Broaden your reach to include less technically sophisticated partners
Easily integrate with small or off-shore partners that are not EDI-capable by exchanging spreadsheets, flat files, and other desktop office suite-compatible documents.

Integrate directly with internal applications
Support multiple methods to integrate with all your applications, including both commercial and in-house developed software, on-premise or in the cloud, with one set of tools.

Provide secure, on-demand data access to trading partners
Create web services that expose order status, shipment status, inventory availability, and other information, on-demand.

Synchronize your product catalog data
Synchronize catalog data with retailers using EDI, Global Data Synchronization, flat files, or third party catalog applications.

Gain capacity to handle large documents and demand peaks
Except high-volume data transactions, process very large documents and handle very high transaction rates.

Learn about how Food and Grocery suppliers use EXTOL integration software as a data hub to automatically manage the exchange of any internal or trading partner message, order, payment, or data transaction and eliminate risk of process bottlenecks, redundant tasks, and costly errors.

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Expandability & Scalability

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

One thing that’s fairly certain about your integration needs – they are likely to change over time. And to get the most of any integration solution, it’s smart to factor in how your solution handles scalability and function expansion before making an initial purchase. For example, some vendors include all functions in a single model, requiring you to pay for the entire feature set even if you don’t plan to use all of them. Others approach things in a more modular fashion, with modules that allow you to ”pay as you go”, turning on feature modules when you need them. This can save you significant capital dollars at install time.

Additionally, while most companies may start small, it’s safe to say that don’t plan to stay startup sized forever. This is where scalability comes into play. It’s important to purchase integration software that is able to grow with you as your company expands capabilities for different lines of business, as well as adding integration across databases, applications and trading partners.

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The Real Impact Data Transformation Has on Your Business

We all know that companies need data integration in order to drive their business. However with each new integration, companies are seeing an increase in the number of data formats required to support the business. When IT cannot support a data format, it risks becoming a roadblock to multiple business processes. The key to unlocking these roadblocks is through data transformation.

The benefits of data transformation extend throughout the entire business – from complying to new customer data requirements, to connecting internal disparate systems that need to share data in order to drive business operations. Many companies that utilize data transformation are manually building and customizing them with each new trading partner request, or new application implementation. With so many custom-coded processes built over time, the risk of errors increase due to poor maintenance, changing requirements, or lack of visibility. If even one data transformation process fails, it could cause a ripple-effect that slows down other business processes. As a result, Programmers will have to take time to troubleshoot the problem, then most likely add more customization to fix it.

We’ve identified some key benefits data transformation has on your business, then reviewed possible risks associated with custom-coding. Now let’s take a look at how the EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI) handles data transformation without the risk.

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Modernizing EDI: The Difference Between Classic EDI and Modern EDI

Today’s EDI is very different from what it was 10 or 15 years ago. When many companies made their last EDI technology investments, they were not facing the challenges they face today as they fill a supplier or intermediary role in the B2B value chain. They must support new shared processes, transactions, document types, and communication methods, all while meeting more stringent service levels.

Partner-driven and IT-driven integration changes are also propelling a wave of modernization. “Classic EDI” translators are being replaced by “Modern EDI” integration solutions, due to radical changes in internal business processes, on-premise and cloud (SaaS) applications, and new platforms.

Classic EDI refers to the exchange of standard electronic document types, with syntax and semantics defined by standards organizations, principally X12 and EDIFACT. Like Classic EDI, Modern EDI also embraces standard EDI document interchanges, but in addition, supports the interchange of non-standard, proprietary documents, mostly based on flat file, XML, and spreadsheet syntaxes.

But the differences between Classic and Modern EDI go beyond support for new document types:

Classic EDI Versus Modern EDI

Classic EDI Versus Modern EDI

Modern EDI reflects the increased diversity of partner, application, and service interfaces present in business environments today. That diversity imposes new requirements on EDI systems, including support for connections that combine applications, services, and data resources in powerful end-to-end business processes. Continue reading

The Dollar Value of Integration – Part 2: Revenue Growth

You probably have seen Revenue Growth illustrated on a graph, with time moving to the right, and a line that rises up and to the right as revenue is earned.

In the previous blog post, we addressed how onboarding a company faster decreases the amount of time from the point of a contract being signed, to the point your company begins to recognize revenue.

Now that you can onboard new business more quickly using an integration platform, what does that really do for your company long-term?

Imagine being able to onboard all the business that your sales team could sign without fear of disappointing the customer. Wouldn’t that be an enviable position to be in? Being able to onboard new business faster means that your company can grow more quickly than in the past.

But there are other areas within your company that integration can accelerate Revenue Growth. We have talked about processing new business through rapid onboarding, but let’s think outside the box.

How can we make our trading partnerships stronger with our suppliers and customers? What if we could offer more transparency to our trading partners about the status of their orders and shipments? That is probably valuable to them, especially if we can offer those services in a way that they can easily access and consume the data.

By allowing our trading partners better access to our systems, we become an extension of their business systems. If we do this properly and offer value to them, we build even stronger business relationships, which should translate into more business volume – Which means Revenue Growth.

Watch the Integration Power$ Business 3-part mini-series at: