B2B integration isn’t exactly new, and neither are the companies that provide B2B networks and IT services to support them. You would think, then, that it would be fairly stable and consolidated at this point.
However, in its new Magic Quadrant for Integration Brokerage, Gartner argues that the market is robust and “reinventing itself,” thanks to new innovations such as the Internet of Things, cloud and mobile.
It’s also growing thanks to business drivers, such as:
- The trend to outsource non-core functions
- E-invoicing government mandates in Latin America
- IT modernization and other projects in Asia/Pacific region
IBM, GXS and Liaison Technologies ranked as leaders in the new report. If you download the report, you’ll note that niche players dominate this market, with eight vendors falling into that quadrant.
Overall, the 18 providers listed in the report say their year-to-year growth typically exceeds 10 percent. Using provider estimates, Gartner figures more than one million companies are “actively transacting” on their networks.
Vendors have responded to that demand with acquisitions, research and development, and investments, including:
- API networks
- Improved fault tolerance and disaster recovery
- Agile R&D
- Use of canonicals (These are “provider-specific B2B standard format — typically XML-based schemas for the most frequently used B2B transaction and message types on their network,” as the report explains.)
As you may have guessed, it’s not like this is a totally new market for Gartner to study. Previously, Gartner covered some of this under its Magic Quadrant for Integration Service Providers, which was last released in 2009.
Obviously, a lot has changed in that time, including new competition from integration platform as a service (iPaaS) providers and the related shift to managing integration via APIs. Gartner has added a number of new criteria in this report, including more of a focus on providing integration as a managed service. In fact, the research firm sternly warns that it is “not appropriate” to compare vendors across the two.
Although much of the discussion focuses on B2B integration, it turns out customer integration is an equally common use case, with 52 percent of cases falling into one of these two categories.
Is an integration service something you might want to consider, or should you just handle the integration work yourself using some sort of solution? Gartner offers a list of factors to consider, including:
- Your requirements for time-to-deploy
- The quality of your internal integration skills and infrastructure
- The risk to success if you do it yourself versus outsourcing it
- How much B2B ranks as a business priority
The report also offers guidelines for what to consider when evaluating integration brokerages.
As usual, several vendors have made the report available as a free download. I downloaded a copy from Liaison (registration required), which included a press release about the new report. If you’re a vendor offering a free download, please add your link in our comment section.
If you’d like to read more about B2B integration, you might also check out the Aberdeen Group’s Analyst Insight: Understanding the Complexity of B2B Integration: Insights for Mid-Market Leaders (registration required). It was published in 2012, so it’s a bit dated, but it was recently made available as a free download.
Another informative read would be the recent Forrester Hybrid2 report, which includes some of the same solutions.