A recent blog post by Steve Keifer, titled “The End of Mapping (in B2B Integration)”, asks why B2B translators can’t automatically identify and map source-to-target fields. Well, the answer is they can – at least EXTOL’s translators can. Our customers have been saving countless hours on mapping activities using EXTOL’s design-time automation technology for more than a decade!
With the Advanced Automapper feature in our EXTOL EDI Integrator for IBM i (EEI), our customers simply select a reference map, and the Advanced AutoMapper will compare it with other maps using the same files, generating a new map with the appropriate data fields. It is a very effective tool for the majority of customers, who have multiple trading partners, but trade the same or similar documents. Each new trading partner can be on-boarded much more quickly, eliminating most of the manual and repetitive mapping tasks. Continue reading
What is a map? Most would answer that it is a collection of relationships between a source document and a target document. This implies that the relationships are at the data-item level. But, isn’t it true that a map, at its essence, is a repository of business knowledge showing the relationship between business elements?
Let’s consider a small company in the United States supporting the Order-To-Cash process. As the company grows, it realizes that it will greatly benefit from the efficiencies of exchanging EDI (ANSI X12) with its trading partners to process orders, send out shipment notices and submit invoices. So, it implements EDI using X12 documents.
Then, the disruptive business event happens. The company expands their market penetration into Europe and begins trading with European partners. But, there is an immediate challenge. European companies typically do not trade using X12. The European standard is EDIFACT. The company now has to accommodate this new standard. To further complicate matters, customers in the United Kingdom want to exchange EDI using TRADACOMS and EANCOM. Finally, pushing the EDI team to the brink of desperation are the customers from Asia-Pacific (APAC) that do not use any EDI. They want to exchange flat-files, XML or even more daunting…spreadsheets.
This scenario would cause great stress in any IT group. But, let’s think about the challenge from a different perspective. Going back to the idea that our X12 maps are repositories of business knowledge, can we leverage that knowledge to help us accommodate the business needs of the company’s growth?
The answer is yes. If we could create relationships between our X12 document structures (schemas) and the new document formats, it is possible to “transform” the actual maps into new maps. This is exactly what the Migration Assistant in the EXTOL Business Integrator does. It is far easier to create relationships between two similar documents (X12 850 Purchase Order and EDIFACT ORDERS) than to create actual data maps to move data between two dissimilar data formats. If a migration tool that could accomplish schema-to-schema migration were available, the challenge shifts to become a mechanical issue and may just require minor adjustments to bring the support for new formats online. Reducing the complexity of the migration process also speeds time to market and greatly reduces risk because the company is re-using their proven business knowledge.
When facing the challenge to reduce the cost of data transformation mapping in e-business integration, you might want to consider the method of sharing reusable base maps. In Part 1 of the Mapping Strategies for e-Business Integration webcast, your host, Jim O’Leary, explains the value of cloud-based pattern sharing by shifting the focus of reuse from base maps to mapping patterns and supplementing pattern-driven mapping with other automated methods.
Learn new ways to help reduce mapping costs by up to 90%: Launch the Webcast >>
Want to know more? Download a free companion white paper that outlines this new e-business mapping strategy.
I’ve written elsewhere about how important data transformation mapping is to all kinds of e-business integration, and how mapping dominates integration lifecycle costs, overall. Mapping is fundamental to Business-to-Business (B2B) integration (e.g., using EDI), application integration, data integration, and many cloud application and service integration cases, as well.
Although drag-and-drop mapping is a data transformation mapping mainstay, assisted (“automated”) mapping, map reuse, and other strategies can be far more efficient and cost-effective, under the right circumstances. But IT professionals and project leaders seeking more efficient ways to create and maintain transformation maps face a conundrum – no single mapping strategy works in all cases. Continue reading
When implementing an e-business integration solution, whether it is cloud, data, application-to-application (A2A) or business-to-business (B2B), there are always common activities that have to be performed. One of those activities is creating the data transformation maps. This is usually the most complicated and time consuming part of the integration process. In an attempt to reduce time and effort required to create these maps, different approaches, both manual and automated, have been tried and tested. Let’s take a look at some of these methods and which circumstances to use them:
One available approach is the process of identifying the source and target data formats, then manually mapping the rules for the transformation. Unlike the old conventional method of coding, current integration middleware solutions usually employ some form of visual drag-and-drop functionality. This is the most common, but also the most time-consuming approach. Manual mapping can be used for building new transformations, especially when no similar map is available to use as a starting point. This approach can also be used when implementing a brand new integration middleware solution, or when there aren’t any other available options. Examples of this are when new applications and trading partners are integrated into the solution or, when brand new document formats from external integrations are introduced. Continue reading