“Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself”
- John Dewey
Learning is not a finish line or a point destination. More than anything else, learning is a continuous journey that is endless. This journey entails a rise in discovery, awareness and most likely comes with change and challenges. Sometimes learning can be painful, but at the end there is some form of growth whether personal or professional.
As B2B (Business to Business) technology professionals, our world is in constant change which could be translated into climbing steep learning curves, in short periods of time and meeting aggressive deadlines. Thus, we must take a proactive approach to learning before our knowledge becomes obsolete. This new blog series provides a set of options for B2B technology professionals on what to learn, where are those sources of learning, how we can be proactive and why this is needed in our careers:
- What are the functional domains and segments to learn about B2B and stay on top of the wave of technological change?
- Where are viable options to learn B2B technology?
- How can we enhance our learning journey and be more efficient and proactive?
- Why do we need to commit to a continuous B2B learning path?
What are the Functional Domains and Segments to learn about B2B and stay on top of the wave of technological change?
In the first part of this blog series, I would like to make suggestions about what to learn and study by dividing B2B technology functionality in two major domains:
- Manage File Transfer (MFT): Managed file transferis a technology platform that allows organizations to reliably exchange electronic data between systems and people in a secure way to meet compliance needs. These data movements can be both internal and external to an enterprise and include various types, including sensitive, compliance-protected or high-volume data. It can be offered as software or as a service and may include a single pane for visibility and governance 
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): Electronic data interchange, is the intercompany communication of business documents in a standard format. The simple definition of EDI is a standard electronic format that replaces paper-based documents such as purchase orders or invoices. By automating paper-based transactions, organizations can save time and eliminate costly errors caused by manual processing 
The simple difference between these two domains is that the main focus of MFT is on file movement or payloads. While the primary focus of EDI is on the transformation of documents (most likely business related) based on pre-established standards specific to an Institution like American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or specific to an industry like PDX and RosettaNet or specific to a company. Understanding B2B domains functionality helps us have a clear vision on how the B2B technology works.
These two B2B functional domains are not silos but are closely interrelated, which allows us to define the B2B body of knowledge within four segments:
- B2B administration and tunning: Refers to all the preventive and corrective maintenance strategies, procedures and tasks that allows a B2B server instance to function optimally
- Translation/Transformation: Includes the usage of software technology to apply specific data conversions to a file, using maps or other tools. The formatted data represents the documents that may be transmitted from originator to recipient via telecommunications or physically transported on electronic storage media 
- Business Process Modeling (BPM): Conveys the graphical representation of an organization's business processes or workflows, as a means of identifying potential improvements. BPM is typically performed by business analysts, who provide expertise in the modeling discipline; by subject matter experts, who have specialized knowledge of the processes being modeled; or more commonly by a team comprising both 
- Communication: This involves all the proper protocol settings and rules that allows two or more entities of a communications system to transmit information via any kind of variation of a physical quantity . The communication protocol(s) defines the rules, syntax, semantics and synchronization of communication and possible error recovery methods. Protocols may be implemented by hardware, software, or a combination of both.
These segments provide a clear sight on what to center our learning efforts. In the next blog, I will provide more suggestions on where you can look for formal and informal training options.