Companies Still Struggling With Islands of Integration in Their Supply Chain, According to Survey

Independent Consulting Firm Survey Finds That Companies Want to Improve ROI and Communication by Taking a More Strategic Look at Integration

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwire - March 17, 2010) -  Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) company, today announced the results of a new multi-client study conducted by Forrester Consulting that focuses on enterprise electronic data interchange (EDI) and business-to-business (B2B) document exchange operations. The findings highlight that enterprises are still using multiple integration solutions, and still face the same challenges those multiple islands of integration create. Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated they plan to upgrade their B2B systems within the next year, demonstrating that it's time for a change toward a more strategic approach to B2B integration.

The survey questioned 300 senior IT managers from North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions on their EDI/B2B use. A free webinar on the findings, hosted by Sterling Commerce with Ken Vollmer, principal analyst at Forrester, as featured guest, will be held on March 25, 2010. To register for the event, visit

Respondents identified the following factors as extremely important drivers for improving how they work with their trading partners: the need to reduce costs (51 percent) and to exchange electronic documents with business partners (40 percent), and the need for real-time visibility into business processes (43 percent). Companies are challenged to achieve these improvements because of the manual processes still in use with these partners. For example:

  • Approximately two thirds of respondents were exchanging EDI/B2B documents with 60 percent or less of their trading community. 
  • Roughly 42 percent of respondents are still exchanging spreadsheets and other text documents with 40 to 100 percent of their trading community.

"Because no company is successful alone, more companies are realizing the manual processes with their customers, partners and suppliers in their value chain are hampering their ability to compete," said Brian Gibb, vice president, Business Integration Product Line, at Sterling Commerce. "By connecting, communicating and collaborating with their full partner roster, not just the top 20 percent, companies are better able to take advantage of post-recession opportunities."

The survey found at least 64 percent of respondents had more than 500 trading partners with whom they need to regularly exchange EDI/B2B documents, demonstrating that the average number of trading partners is increasing. With this trend, overcoming the technical difficulties companies are having with their existing EDI/B2B can provide opportunities for operational efficiencies and cost savings. Respondents indicated solving the following difficulties were important or extremely important:

  • Integrating with other applications (66 percent)
  • Responding to new business requests (63 percent)
  • Managing partner communities (59 percent)
  • Supporting smaller, non-EDI capable partners (58 percent)
  • Effectively supporting process improvement efforts (58 percent)

By taking a holistic approach to their integration capabilities, respondents indicated it was important or extremely important to gain benefits in these areas:

  • Ability to leverage existing integration investments (78 percent)
  • Better control over file transfers (78 percent)
  • Easier to support process improvement efforts (75 percent)
  • Easier linking of external partners to ERP systems (71 percent)

"For the last twenty years, companies have been approaching B2B automation from a tactical perspective, plugging in new solutions where needed, but never looking at the full strategy," adds Gibbs. "These survey results support the shift in the industry we are seeing as companies look strategically at their EDI and B2B integration. By taking a holistic approach to integration, they will realize greater ROI and improved communication throughout their collaborative processes." 

About Sterling Commerce
Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) company, helps companies optimize and transform their Business Collaboration Network to accelerate revenues and reduce costs. Sterling Commerce provides more than 30,000 customers worldwide applications and integration solutions to connect, communicate and collaborate inside and outside their enterprise. More information can be found at

Contact Information:

For more information, contact:
Julie Redard
Sterling Commerce
(978) 513-6386

Jamie Leicht
(619) 237-7711