E-commerce has turned the retail and commerce industry upside down. People are purchasing online in a big way, and as technology improves, the number of online shoppers is growing exponentially. For the retailer, he can sell anything, anywhere, and compete with giants on a level playing field.
A big stumbling block that has restricted the widespread adoption of e-commerce is incompatibility of systems across the key stakeholders in the value chain. Different entities, ranging from manufacturers to shippers, and from retailers to bankers, all use different and often diverse, incompatible systems. The implications are that keeping track of the progress of the product, replenishing inventory, after sales support, shipping, and every other process for that matter becomes very difficult and cumbersome. Such a state of affairs causes needless duplications, inefficiency, confusion from disparate procedures, and holds-ups from programming overruns. Even worse, there’s the inability to respond to a situation in a timely matter, the inability to leverage a favorable situation owing to troubles or issues with different partners, and many other such ill effects.
BizTalk offers a solution to this problem by facilitating the sharing of data among disparate systems. It provides a framework for different systems to communicate in Extensible Markup Language (XML), a common data exchange language, allowing different computer systems to communicate seamlessly as if it were a single system. In other words, it facilitates interoperability using public XML standards for diverse business applications.
With BizTalk it becomes possible to maintain and synchronize data among systems, doing away with the large and costly projects that the task required just a few years ago. It is easy to get started as well, and does not require any major changes to the existing system.
In fact, the use of BizTalk offers several additional advantages over and above removing such big stumbling blocks. They are:
- It improves visibility into the company’s supply chain, allowing the management to rectify glitches, anticipate threats, and develop an agile supply chain with right sized inventory
- It enables the management to monitor the business activity well, allowing them to speed up decision making, increase control over the business operations, and reduce defects
- It offers a unified view of the customer, thereby allowing the company to engage with them better and take more informed decisions. Moreover, it offers Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities, that delivers the apt information to the customer, at the perfectly right moment
- It lowers costs across-the-board
Most businesses today operate on a global scale and have to manage many fronts simultaneously. The business environment is invariably hyper-competitive too. Success therefore, depends on moving fast and being nimble. BizTalk allows retail businesses to do exactly that, facilitating seamless interoperability and freeing them to devote resources to the core operations that deserve their full attention.