What is B2B?
B2B (“business to business”) is a market definition (a “space”) that covers technology and services that allow file and other transmissions to be performed between businesses (i.e., not between consumers). B2B covers a lot of conceptual ground, from simple “file transfer” and “secure file transfer” to more sophisticated “managed file transfer” and up through traditional EDI. In addition to overlapping with the venerable EDI space, many analysts now see that the B2B space overlaps with the EAI (“enterprise application integration”) space, the “Community Management” space (e.g., effortless provisioning) and even the hot new cloud services space.
If you are an IT administrator or someone else charged with getting a file transfer system to work, the presence of the “B2B” term in your project description should tell you to expect to use the FTP/S and SSH (SFTP) protocols, although you may also see AS2, proprietary protocols or some use of HTTP/S (especially if web services are available).
If you are a buyer of file transfer technology and services, the presence of the “B2B” term in your project requirements will limit the field of vendors who can win the business, attract the attention of traditional IT analyst firms (e.g., IDC, Forrester and Gartner) hoping to steer the business to their clients and may kick decision making further up your corporate hierarchy. (These effects may be good or bad for your particular project – after having participated in hundreds of file transfer RFPs, the people of File Transfer Consulting may help your project thread the appropriate needle in your organization.)