Enabling ultra-reliable EDI integration
Cencora is a leading global pharmaceutical solutions organization that connects manufacturers, providers, pharmacies, and patients to help them seamlessly navigate the healthcare system.
Building on the legacy of AmerisourceBergen, Cencora has driven significant business growth in recent years. In 2021, the organization acquired Alliance Healthcare — greatly expanding its global distribution network. Ranked #11 on the Fortune 500, Cencora generated annual revenues of $262 billion in 2023 and is continuing to grow its EDI platform volume and trading partners at a rate of approximately 10 percent year over year.
To support its business operations, Cencora exchanges thousands of files and EDI messages every day with hundreds of thousands of trading partners. Scott Marshall, Senior Director, IT Product Lead — EDI Technology at Cencora, says: "We rely on our B2B integration infrastructure to process over $140 bullion in annual revenue. For that reason, it's crucial that we can send and receive EDI messages 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
In the past, many of Cencora's business units relied on their own individual EDI systems and processes. However, this approach increased the overall cost and complexity of delivering EDI capabilities to the business, and made it difficult to ensure consistently high levels of availability.
"Over time, we found that our EDI-related tasks had become a distraction from core activities," Marshall continues. "To solve that challenge, we aimed to centralize the EDI capabilities for the entire business to a dedicated team. The aim was to boost operational efficiency while helping to ensure always-on service availability."
Unifying EDI services
To provide the foundation for its central EDI platform, Cencora uses Axway B2B9. Marshall explains: "We chose Axway B2Bi more than a decade ago for its outstanding reliability, and the solution continues to be the optimal platform for our mission-critical EDI flows. Even a few minutes of unplanned EDI downtime could lead to millions of dollars in costs. With Axway B2Bi, we have peace of mind our EDI capabilities will always be online when we need them."
Combined with Axway Controlled Substance Ordering System (CSOS), the Axway solution helps Cencora manage compliance-related tasks at speed and scale.
Marshall adds: "Our clients require certificates from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to receive controlled substances. With Axway CSOS, our teams can confirm and authenticate these certificates in a highly automated way — helping us to reduce manual work while maintaining a strong compliance posture."
Delivering 24/7 availability
With Axway B2Bi, Cencora exchanges over 800,000 EDI messages a day with more than 23,000 trading partners. The organization has now brought more than 90 percent of all its EDI integrations in North America into the Axway platform, enabling it to decommission legacy systems, boost operational efficiency and deliver rock-solid reliability.
"By having a central team dedicated to EDI, our business units are free to focus on their core competencies," confirms Marshall. "Crucially, the Axway platform is extremely reliable. We have deployed Axway B2Bi across two active/active data centers, enabling us to perform maintenance and upgrade work on one site while the other remains active. This ensures we can offer EDI services to our stakeholders 24/7."
Saving thousands of hours
Cencora is continually enhancing its B2B integration capabilities. Most recently, the company worked with Axway to enable an automated workflow to remind trading partners to download the latest AS2 certificates and SFTP keys from its online portal.
Marshall says: "Previously, our team sent reminders about expiring certificates manually. Thanks to automation from Axway, we're saving thousands of hours a year that now can be spent on value-added services for our trading partners."
Cencora plans to explore a containerized infrastructure for Axway B2Bi, enabling it to streamline maintenance and facilitate a possible move to cloud. Marshall concludes: "Axway is always looking for ways to enhance their solutions, and we're excited to explore these new capabilities in the years ahead."