Granted, the individual transactions still serve their intended purposes as they are transferred, processed, and assimilated into each trading partner's business processes. But as companies attempt to better understand both their own transactions and the activities of their trading partners, a wider view is necessary; one that looks at larger sets of data and derives trends, discovers patterns, announces problems, and generally keeps those who need to know informed.
Some interesting things begin to happen in large scale aggregations of data like what is captured and stored by VANs and service providers that don't simply act as post offices, passing data from one place to another, but store and warehouse the transactions for hundreds or even thousands of trading partners. These companies have access to multiple trading partners, many of whom are competitors of each other. This aggregated data can tell stories about what products are performing at what level, and in relation to what other brands, which retailers, and what local markets.
With this much information available, the use and distribution of the details becomes more than just interesting. It raises serious ethical and security questions that should be asked of the service provider. A study by Michael McFarland at Santa Clara University, done in 2012 aims at using transaction data for profiling of individuals - something that has been in the news recently. But the same issues and capabilities apply to trading data and its use. I'm a believer that trading data should be consolidated and analyzed, and that results should be provided to those who can benefit from its use. As you look for data analytics providers, be certain to review their terms of service to determine what uses these companies make of your transactional data.