As brick and mortar stores close in droves, it is becoming clear that online commerce is certainly the unavoidable future for consumerism. Services, such as Amazon Prime, have already begun to replace your conventional grocer in many regional markets; offering customers automatic buy-options for things as mundane as laundry detergent or bath tissue. Still, while everything “commerce” seems to be migrating to the web, we often forget to ask “How does it all work anyway?” Well, this is certainly a very large and open question, but let’s take a stab at from the critical, and often ignored, technology of Managed File Transfer (MFT) that the world’s largest e-commerce businesses, like Amazon.com, Alibaba.com or Netflix, rely on.
What’s MFT Anyway?
MFT is software or service that manages the secure transfer of data from one computer to another via the internet or private network. Pretty simple right? Well, in theory yes - but not in practice. This is because MFT software is always advancing with the changes of digital technology, electronic files and accompanying security compliance requirements in all vertical industries in which data is fluidly exchanged between people and enterprise. MFT technology is always at the cusp of data and information innovation because it has to in order to keep critical data safe in banking, supply chain, medical, and yes even in online commerce scenarios. Keep in mind that MFT, outside of of mainstream consumer services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.com, automated MFT between global e-commerce organizations, banks, and billions of consumers is a completely different animal and has become a critical support agent behind online consumer habits.
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What’s behind your online purchase
The “click and buy” process may be easier for the consumer, but the transaction of online commerce is far more complex than one may think. There’s a lot going behind the digital till today, and it’s all about data.
The answer is certainly more than just “managed file transfer technology” but it is a huge part of Amazon’s, and other online retailers’ ability to manage and scale with growing consumer data. Data needs to not only be stored securely, but it needs to include plugins and integration features that allow integration with enterprise software systems to be seamless within the organizations’ IT. As of year-end 2015, America’s leading e-commerce retailer Amazon.com claimed 107 billion U.S. dollars in net sales. In the fourth quarter of 2015 alone, the e-retailer reported more than 304 million active customer accounts, capable of supporting billions of transaction per day if required. The amount of data and complexity of file organization relative to identity information, consumer activity and transactional information in immense. Obviously, conventional FTP and HTTP file transfer methods are not enough to support this data behemoth. So how do they do it?
Data needs to be available in various autonomous functions, such as advanced transaction reporting, non-repudiation analytics and filing automation of various sorts. These functions support convenience functions for the online consumer, such as having the ability to save your credit-card and address information between browsers within your online account for example. In addition to saving you the trouble of retyping your name and address over and over, it also lets online retailers and banks quickly discover anomalous purchase activity before it’s too late. So if you ever find yourself in the odd situation of finding out that you have been billed thousands of dollars for toys in Taiwan and expensive shoes in Russia while in California (true personal story) MFT technology allows your bank and retailer of choice to recognize and validate fraud so you’re not stuck with the bill.
Wallet in the Cloud
The internet has nearly changed everything in our culture over the last decade. Now, ecommerce has really begun to ascend to a dominant level across the globe, requiring a massive shift in how we manage, secure, analyze and transfer critical data. MFT technology has evolved with this demand out of necessity. MFT and advanced data exchange automation functionality between banking and retailer institutions has become critical in defining success from failure. The online consumer base is growing rapidly and they’re voting for their favorite online buying experience with their wallet. Now that their wallet is the cloud, continued success and failure will be defined on how ecommerce companies can secure them.