Greg Horton

Greg Horton
Greg Horton is a Product Marketing Director for OpenText Business Network. Greg is responsible for sharing how OpenText B2B Integration services and Active Applications can impact business agility, profitability and growth. Greg brings more than 20 years of enterprise software experience. Prior to joining OpenText, he held positions in marketing, product planning and product management at Microsoft, Relex Software, M*Modal, Epicor Software and Serena Software.

5 Tips for E-commerce–Ready Item Management

E-commerce-ready Item Management

Find out here how to support online shopping with product information that sells. Online shopping has empowered consumers to find their product, compare prices, and determine which retailers have inventory. Meeting the demand for an easy and convenient online shopping experience means retailers need the necessary product information available on their website. Unfortunately, e-commerce–ready item management is a highly manual process that’s time consuming and error prone. There’s tremendous pressure on brand marketers to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the product information that helps retailers sell online. Our recent report, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, identified e-commerce–ready item management as one of the top three priorities for building a customer-centric supply chain. Defined by extended attributes to support e-commerce content management and fulfillment processes, e-commerce–ready item management greatly improves time-to-market. In fact, one national chain reports a 2- to 4-week reduction in website product page setup using extended attributes, while a major e-commerce retailer reports vendor item setup time has been cut in half. GS1 has published standards for extended e-commerce product attributes in their Extended Attribute Guide, and as brand marketers typically produce the content required to meet the needs of e-commerce item management, including marketing descriptions, images and videos, product specifications, and shipping weights and measurements, they should review their product information now to ensure compliance. OpenText™ Active Catalogue supports extended attributes for general merchandise and apparel to easily share e-commerce-ready product information with retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, Dillard’s, Belk, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Stage Stores, Nordstrom, Boscov’s, Bon-Ton, and Lids. With more retailers requesting extended e-commerce attributes along with their traditional GTIN-based data, we’ve got five tips to help brand marketers meet the requirements for e-commerce–ready item management. 1. It’s your brand: Make the standards work for you Industry standards have allowed retailers to scale B2B integration, streamlining supply chain management and reducing costs; getting product to consumers faster and maintaining inventory levels to drive sales. E-commerce product information standards aren’t any different. Using them will get your product on retailers’ websites faster and with greater control over how your brand is presented online. Get to know standard description attributes and use them to your benefit. Some attributes support standardization, enabling navigation, filtering, or search–such as Brand, which is your label or trade name. Others, like the attribute Features-Benefits-Marketing Message, is a free-form text field of up to 4,096 characters that allows you to provide rich information you want to convey about your products, as in the example below with the product description and details content. 2. Don’t panic: There’s flexibility in the standards The thought of using standards causes some brand marketers to feel hand-cuffed. But brands and retailers jointly developed these, aware of the need to give brands the flexibility to market their products the way they want to, while also supporting retailers. For example, each standard for describing a garment closure includes 9 basic descriptions–and there are a total of 53 closure description options. Plus, there’s an option to use a free-form description if a brand’s closer type is included in the standard. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 3. Get a quick win: Image standardization Sharing image attributes is easier than ever, since many brands already produce imagery for their own website. The growth in online shopping has led to some best practices regarding what’s required to effectively display products to consumers. These two websites illustrate the five basic images needed for e-commerce: quarter-turn, front, back, top, bottom. You may already have images available that you can share with retailers. 4. Get it right: Measure twice, share once There’s an adage used in construction to avoid costly mistakes: “Measure twice, cut once.” The value of accurate, consistent measurement can’t be overstated in e-commerce. Did you notice that the websites in the previous example list two different heel heights for the same shoe? Consumers have only the details retailers provide to make an informed purchase. Not having the correct information can mean getting a sale and keeping it–or a return by a dissatisfied customer. The standards for what to measure and how to measure it are well thought out and described in the GS1 guidelines. There are specifics listed for different merchandise categories, such as the standard for how to measure the heel of a shoe. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 5. It’s all about the customer: Streamline order fulfillment In addition to online shopping descriptions, it’s important to provide the necessary shipping information. Standards have been developed to support extended supply chain attributes specifically for e-commerce fulfillment. Shipping package dimensions–including size, weight, and hazardous material coding–help retailers ship customer orders more efficiently. Other extended attributes like Consumer Available Date and Lead Time support drop-shipping to customers, which has become more widely used by retailers. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 Watch our recent webinar, Catalogue–Extended Attribute Project, for more about how Active Catalogue can help you manage extended product attributes. To learn how you can implement a customer-centric supply chain, download your copy of Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

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5 Active Applications Sessions at Enterprise World

Enterprise World

If you are an OpenText™ Business Network customer (or if you are considering becoming one), we would like to invite you to OpenText™ Enterprise World 2017. We know that it can be tough to take time out of your busy schedule to attend an event, so we are working hard to ensure Enterprise World is relevant to you, your business, and the OpenText solutions you use. Previous blog posts about Business Network at Enterprise World include a summary of why you should attend and a post about the future of the digital supply chain. If you outsource your B2B integration to OpenText™ B2B Managed Services you may not be aware of some of the cloud-based supply chain automation applications we offer. These application provide additional integration and automation capabilities. Sessions at Enterprise World will describe these “Active Applications,” the problems they are designed to solve, and how they can positively impact your business. Here are 5 Active Applications sessions at Enterprise World that you should find valuable: Buying organizations need visibility into frequency of order errors or late deliveries by suppliers. See how these metrics provide the information to help identify potential problems in the supply chain and make adjustments. This session demonstrates supplier performance metric that enable manufacturers to manage under-performing trading partners—ultimately mitigating risk to business performance—and help determine the most strategic trading partners to do more business with. Your B2B integration program’s ROI is determined by the percentage of trading partner you integrate with. So how do you maximize trading partner participation and ROI? We’ll show you how OpenText can help you get your trading partners onboarded – through tools for community management (with new self-service features!), direct connect and EDI VAN enablement, and a web portal for non-digital trading partners plus onboarding services that free your staff for more strategic efforts. Your trading partners want to exchange invoices electronically so they can automate and reduce costs of invoice processing – and so do you. But e-invoicing has a varied set of formats, government requirements and integration challenges. OpenText B2B Managed Services and Active Invoices with Compliance work together for sending, receiving and storing e-invoices that comply with government tax laws and recent business to government (B2G) e-invoicing mandates. This session will discuss what you need to do to comply with ever changing e-invoicing regulations, including upcoming mandates for B2G invoicing in EU countries and the differences between compliance models in Europe and Latin America.  Don’t be shut out of these markets.  Attend this session and learn how to comply. Vendor Compliance is More Than a Manual – see how retailers are capturing vendor compliance violations and increasing accuracy to better offset expenses from shipping errors. Along the way they are also improving relationships with their vendors through clarity and visibility! We’ll show you how the OpenText deduction management solution works and how one customer used it to increase compliance while improving the relationship with their vendors. Active Catalogue & Your Data Synchronization Strategy – this session will explore the benefits of implementing and executing a data synchronization and product catalogue strategy, specifically with OpenText Active Catalogue.  Learn customer best practices, challenges and successes in deploying the Catalogue solution. Also attend to learn the  future direction of Active Catalogue. These Active Applications sessions at Enterprise World are only 5 of many sessions for Business Network customers. Plus, in addition to breakout sessions there are many other activities that you can participate in, such as industry breakouts, live product and solution overviews in our expo hall and a chance to test drive new product enhancements in our developer lab. This year Enterprise World is in Toronto, Canada, and if you are interested in learning more about how Business Network can support your B2B integration needs today and in the future visit our registration page. I hope to see you in Toronto in July.

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Join OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Each year, supply chain practitioners gather in Scottsdale to discuss, learn, network, share their challenges, failures and successes in managing complex supply chains. The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference is a great opportunity to do all of those things. Each year the event is larger, with more attendees and more opportunities to network. This year, Gartner has chosen recognizing the impacts and preparing disruptions to the supply chain as the theme of the conference. Supply Chain risk and resilience is hot topic and preparing your supply chain to handle the impact of a disruption takes measurement, planning, innovation, and transformation. OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference We are inviting you to join OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference. As the leading provider of Business-to-Business (B2B) integration, we believe that a well-connected supply chain is a key element of making your supply chain more resilient. For more on why, see this blog post. As part of our participation in the conference, we are sponsoring a session from one of our customers. Seth Barney, who leads Supplier Quality and Inventory Accuracy at O.C. Tanner, will share their journey to streamline their supply chain through digital transformation (and B2B integration!). O.C. Tanner is a global provider of employee recognition and appreciation products covering over 150 countries and delivering awards to 19 million users. Seth directs supplier quality and inventory accuracy activities for O.C. Tanner. His primary focus has been implementing streamlined supplier connections across all of O.C. Tanner’s global locations while ensuring process consistency. He also leads a number of inventory related projects to drive inventory accuracy to company records of well over 99%. Please stop by and visit us in the showcase if you are at the show. If you’d like to schedule some time to meet with us – you can sign up here.

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3 Priorities for Adopting a Customer-Centric Retail Supply Chain

Customer-Centric Retail

We’re spoiled. With unlimited access to products and more ways to receive purchases whenever and wherever we want, shopping has never been easier – or more challenging for retailers. Online retail sales growth has outpaced in-stores sales. ShopperTrak reported a 5% drop in in-stores sales while comScore reported a 23% increase in online shopping during the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday weekend compared to 2015. Most established retail brands have been attempting an omnichannel balancing act, but the fact is that e-commerce is now the sales growth engine. Addressing the needs of an always-on consumer and maintaining relevance in today’s highly competitive market, retailers need to put the customer at the center of everything they do. That means adopting a customer-centric supply chain to support online shopping and streamline fulfillment. Smart retail trading networks support customer-centricity Retailers can’t deliver on customer-centric initiatives alone. They need trading partners to support their efforts. Using predictive analytics to harness supply chain network data, retailers will develop more sophisticated relationships to serve customers across channels. Smart retail trading networks combine data to monitor, analyze, and report on consumer demand, inventory availability, and supply chain performance. Our new report, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, identifies three priorities to support customer-centric supply chain adoption: E-commerce–ready item management, dynamic supply chain collaboration, and customer-centric inventory orchestration. With smart trading networks, everyone wins. Customers can find what they want easily and get it fast. Retailers can be more responsive to customer needs, increase service excellence, and lower fulfillment costs. 3 Priorities for adopting a customer-centric supply chain Priority 1: E-commerce–ready item management Using manual processes like spreadsheets, email, and manual data entry results in slower time-to-market and inaccurate product information for consumers. E-commerce content management is streamlined by adding extended attributes to existing product information integration and synchronization processes. Retailers who have integrated extended attributes into their e-commerce content management processes have seen website item setup time cut in half. Priority 2: Dynamic supply-chain collaboration Existing collaboration processes won’t ensure inventory availability to consumers. Retail trading partners need to support more dynamic collaboration to service customers directly, such as with drop-ship fulfillment, meeting retailers’ higher compliance and lead-time standards. To guarantee service level execution, retailers should leverage automated communication and standards compliance processes available from smart trading networks. Retailers using automated compliance processes have dramatically increased violation identification and reduced resolution time from months to a few days. Priority 3: Customer-centric inventory orchestration To capture more sales, retailers need to better position inventory to match consumer demand using a greater level of sales and inventory visibility across the entire supply chain. They can gain universal inventory visibility by accessing data that’s readily available in smart trading networks. Customer-centric inventory orchestration helps retailers locate inventory closer to consumer demand to fulfill orders quickly, manage shipping costs effectively, and reduce markdowns. Embrace the future of customer-centric retail The success of any retailer in today’s e-commerce–driven environment depends on their ability to orchestrate a customer-centric supply chain. Smart trading networks offer analytic and collaborative capabilities to ensure better inventory visibility and supply-chain excellence – supporting fast, reliable, and cost-effective fulfillment. To learn how you can implement a customer-centric supply chain, download Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

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Automate Customer Enrollment for Faster E-Invoicing ROI

E-Invoicing ROI

Invoice automation and the move to e-invoicing is a common project designed to save enterprises money.  Billentis estimates that both outbound and inbound e-invoicing projects reduce invoice processing costs by 60%. It is important to note that the more trading partners that participate in your e-invoicing program, the more benefit you will receive from it.  But if e-invoicing ROI is so great, why isn’t all invoicing e-invoicing? The cost of setting up an e-invoicing program can be a roadblock. Part of that cost is enrollment or on-boarding. This involves registering all of the customers to whom you will send electronic invoices into the e-invoicing platform. Sending thousands of invoices to a single customer is relatively easy – only that customer needs to be enrolled for e-invoicing. Sending one invoice each to thousands of customers is a completely different problem. You need to enroll each of those customers before sending electronic invoices. Enrolling new customers can require human interaction and frequently involves several Finance and/or IT procedures. What if you could enroll your customers automatically as you process transactions?  If you have hundreds of customers, this could reduce the cost of setting up an e-invoicing program by tens of thousands of dollars and save hundreds of man hours. This is why OpenText has introduced a capability that will automatically provision many of your customers as you send electronic invoices. In this way you: Reduce the barriers to entry for your outbound e-invoicing project Reduce manual efforts (Finance and IT) Accelerate e-invoicing ROI by implementing your project faster The capability reduces cost and saves time because you do not need to create procedures for manual enrollment or transfer information between systems or databases. You just send us the information about your customer at the same time that you send us the transaction. Learn more about OpenText’s E-Invoicing solutions.

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Think Outside…for Complete Supply Chain Automation

complete supply chain automation

If you are tasked with helping to automate your supply chain, you know there is a lot of work to do internally. But many organizations forget to look outside to achieve complete supply chain automation. You can find evidence of this need in recent news about how retailers are shrinking deliver windows and increasing compliance requirements. This has also been true in the automotive industry where, because of just-in-time manufacturing, auto OEMs may penalize suppliers whose missed deliveries cause them to shut down an assembly line – to the tune of thousands of dollars PER MINUTE that the line is idle. Regardless of whether you are a supplier or a buyer, it is becoming critical that you think outside of your organization for complete supply chain automation. So how do you do that? Lora Cecere on her blog said, “However, automation enables enterprise efficiency, not value network effectiveness. Most companies cannot see beyond their firewalls. I feel it is time to rewire our supply chain thinking. This does not happen through conventional thinking. Instead, it happens through the adoption of new technologies and outside-in thinking.” This outside-in thinking and network effectiveness comes from automating the flow of transaction information with trading partners. Yet, recent research from IDC shows that although 70% of respondents believe that business success requires pervasive B2B networks that allow them to collaborate with suppliers and customers – less than 50% exchange the majority of information with most of their trading partners in electronic formats. By including supplier/buyer interactions in supply chain automation, organizations can automate a critical portion of their supply chain. The benefits of doing so include, reducing manual data entry and data entry errors, reducing transaction costs, and reducing receiving time and error. To learn more about how to think outside for complete supply chain automation watch our on-demand webinar.

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You’ve got Experience, Share it in our Survey

P2P automation survey

P2P automation survey opportunity – if you are involved in supply chain management or procurement, you will more than likely have experiences with, and opinions about, the business benefits of supply chain automation and digitizing procure-to-pay (P2P) processes. We would love to hear them. Supply Chain Insights is conducting a survey to help frame the impact that P2P can have on the supply chains of manufacturing, retail, and wholesale organizations. You could be a thought leader by contributing your experiences in this important conversation. It will only take a few minutes of your time. By participating in the conversation and taking the survey, you will be rewarded for your time. Firstly, you will receive your own copy of the survey results. Secondly, you will be invited to participate in a round-table discussion about the survey results and the business benefits of P2P. We look forward to sharing the results with you. In the meantime if you would like to read more about P2P, take a look at What Differentiates a “Best in Class” P2P Solution From the Rest?  which features different solution scenarios, the characteristics of each and the advantages of using a “best in class” solution.

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Pay Attention to B2G eInvoicing Mandates

B2G einvoicing mandates

Governments around world are seeking to save time and money by requiring electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) for all business-to-government (B2G) billing. These B2G eInvoicing mandates require that businesses providing goods and services to any government entity – educational, medical, transportation, local and federal offices – must eInvoice. B2G eInvoicing Mandates in the European Union The European Parliament created Directive 2014/55/ EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. This directive requires that EU countries define rules for electronic invoices in public procurement processes by Nov. 27, 2018. This means governments must have a defined plan for public institutions to accept electronic invoices as a method of billing. In the meantime, the directive mandates the creation of a standard for the semantic data model of the core elements of an electronic invoice. (The ‘European standard on electronic invoicing’). This work is now taking place. When the standard has been published, reviewed and finalized, member countries have 18 months to receive electronic invoices in the standard format. Legislation in France Not all countries are waiting for the standard to be published. In France Order No. 2014-697 makes it mandatory for businesses to issue invoices to public entities in electronic format. In addition, this order makes it mandatory for all State*, local authorities, and public institutions to accept eInvoices. The rollout of mandated B2G einvoicing in France commences in January 2017 and will be enforced in stages, starting with large businesses. However, eInvoicing isn’t just about complying with B2G or tax authority mandates. It is about transaction communication and enabling automated processing of digital documents. Billentis estimates that eInvoicing saves money in five categories of processing costs – capture, quality assurance, routing and circulation, reporting and filing and payment for an overall potential saving of 60%. If you need to reduce invoicing costs and comply with regulatory mandates, OpenText can help. OpenText is the global leader in B2B integration solutions, with the largest B2B network processing 18B transactions per year. We help organizations digitally connect for commerce. Our eInvoicing compliance solution provides tax compliance for eInvoicing in more than 40 countries. It also connects you to several European governments who have mandated eInvoicing, including France and Italy. Learn more about eInvoicing. * Except in the case of defense or national security.

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Get Started on the Path to B2B Integration Maturity Now

B2B integration maturuty

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World (now part of Gartner). We set out to learn what constitutes B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The research paper, available here, lays out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. In previous posts we’ve looked at the steps, and the value of progressing along the path. The last portion of the report makes some specific recommendations for getting started and advancing along the B2B integration path. It’s time to get started now on the path to B2B integration maturity. When advancing business-to-business integration, an organization’s focus must be on the journey as much as it is on the destination. The B2B integration path framework is designed with the journey in mind, helping organizations to define and measure progress for themselves. A well-planned B2B integration deployment concurrently addresses issues such as working capital and process efficiency by aligning the three elements of people, technology and process to create tangible business value. SCM World Recommendations Extend the network. The very nature of B2B integration requires working with extended business networks. Purely introspective perspectives lead to the continuation of the status quo, whereas broadened perspectives create mutually beneficial opportunities now, and in the future. It is important to: Build capabilities and track progress. Mechanisms are available to accelerate progress and build the key capabilities needed to create sustainable advancements in B2B integration. In evaluating how building these capabilities enables future business growth, consider if it is best to build and maintain in-house capabilities or if it is better to partner with, or outsource to, specialists who focus on B2B integration tools and technology? Start the process. To begin the journey, companies must develop segmented business integration strategies that allow for immediate execution, as well as further advancement potential in the future. Learn and grow together with trading partners. Leverage experts outside your business; and Embrace the dynamism and fluidity of B2B integration as a long-term growth opportunity. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4 What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5 Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

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Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

Utilties

An efficient supply chain is a competitive advantage. Part of achieving efficiency is automation based on B2B integration between buyers and suppliers. A recent report from SCM World entitled “The B2B Integration Path: A Roadmap for Business Value Generation” found that companies who had achieved a higher stage of B2B integration maturity experienced greater efficiency as measured by inventory turns, days sales outstanding, expedited orders, and cash conversion cycle. Only 16% of the respondents in the survey scored at stage 4 or “relational” stage. No company in the survey has achieved the highest stage of the B2B integration maturity path – the “generative” stage. The full report, available here, lays out the complete path to maturity. Moving from “Analytical” to “Relational” The third stage (analytical) of B2B integration maturity path is where companies begin to gain “collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data.” At the fourth stage (relational) companies have built a responsive network, with integration of most trading partners across multi-tier demand and supply networks. For more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity. So how do move you from stage 3 to 4? According to our survey, which looks at three aspects of maturity – people, process and technology, there are several things that distinguish stage 4 from stage 3 companies. People In the people aspect, stage 4 companies are differentiated by shifts in decision making and business justification. First, stage 4 companies are more centralized in their B2B integration decision making with 32% more companies stating they have comprehensive multi-enterprise decision alignment. This means B2B integration decisions extend to trading partners up and down the supply chain. Second, the justification for integration B2B activities shifts to one that encourages collaborative business growth among partners, with 74% of stage 4 companies naming this as their justification, compared to only 15% at stage 3. Process In terms of process, there is an improvement in error reporting, shifting from a reactive process to real-time reporting (50% of respondents at stage 4 vs. 33% at stage 3) and possibly automated exception management (a 13% increase from stage 3 to 4, to 33%). Stage 4 companies see a shift toward real-time processing of digital transaction with 43% reporting they have achieved this speed, while that was true for only 2% of stage 3 companies. Technology There are three noticeable technology differences between companies at stages 3 and 4. First, companies at stage 4 increase the availability of metrics reporting, moving from standard KPIs published at scheduled intervals, to predictive analytics spanning a multi-tier demand and supply network. (25% of respondents at stage 4, vs. 4% at stage 3). The second difference was an improvement in data collection and organization. 62% of stage 4 companies reported they had comprehensive multi-enterprise data integration, compared to only 8% at stage 3. Finally, stage 4 companies differ from stage 3 in the capabilities for compliance and audit, with 35% more stage 4 companies reporting they had a networked compliance management system. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4 What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

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What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

B2B integration

A common question that B2B integration services provider are asked is “What are other companies doing for B2B integration?” When talking about B2B integration maturity, we want to know how we compare with our peers. In fact, the definition of being mature is being ahead of our peers. This post, based on a recent report from SCM World entitled “The B2B Integration Path: A Roadmap for Business Value Generation” is about what companies in the middle of the maturity model are doing, and how they got there. 70% of the respondents were scored as being at the middle or analytical stage – making this “average B2B integration maturity” for comparison purposes. The full report, available here, lays out the complete path to maturity. Moving from “Informative” to “Analytical” The second stage (informative) of B2B integration maturity is where companies have to engage digitally with a few key trading partners, so supply chain visibility is limited. In the third stage (analytical), organizations begin to gain “Collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data.” For more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity. So how does a company move from stage 2 to 3? According to our survey, which looks at three aspects of maturity – people, process and technology – there are several things that distinguish stage 3 companies from stage 2 companies. People There are two noticeable people differences between companies at stages 2 and 3. First, companies at stage 3 have developed functional or cross-functional B2B expertise. While only 29% of companies at stage 2 had developed B2B expertise, 78% of companies at stage 3 had. The second difference was the use of dedicated B2B staff. At 61% of stage 2 companies, all B2B staff were shared resources and only 17% had any dedicated staff. But only 22% had no dedicated resources and 78% had at least a few dedicated B2B staff members. Process In the process area, stage 3 companies are differentiated by a significant increase in the percentage of trading partners who are digitally connected and by a reduction in on-boarding times for new digital partners. In the survey, only 34% of companies at stage 2 connect digitally with more than 20% of trading partners, but at stage 3 that percentage rises to 83%. 68% of stage 2 companies report on-boarding taking more than four weeks for a new trading partner and none of the companies at stage 2 could on-board a new trading partner in less than two weeks. While at stage 3, 60% could on-board partners in less than four weeks and 23% had reduced the time down to less than two weeks. Technology In terms of technology, the first shift is in terms of standardization of tools. For 62% of stage 2 companies, the B2B integration toolset is undefined. But the toolset is undefined for only 10% of stage 3 companies. Instead, 44% of stage 3 companies report that core tools are defined and usage is locally consistent and another 42% report that core tools are defined and used consistently across multiple locations. Stage 3 represents a big move away from paper, fax, phone and email as transaction models, with only 11% saying that is their primary model, while 45% of stage 2 companies make that claim. There is a big shift to EDI and Portals with 14% of stage 2 companies reporting that most transactions occur via those modes, while 50% of stage 3 companies have reached that goal. Finally, companies moving from stage 2 to stage 3 report greater levels of ERP integration for transactions with 90% of stage 2 companies having no ERP integration or only have integrated a few transaction types. 61% of stage 3 companies have integrated with ERP for most or all transaction types.   Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4  

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First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4

B2B Maturity

Maturing your B2B integration program is definitely a journey. When OpenText commissioned SCM World to conduct a survey companies from all over the world, we were looking for a path companies could follow on their journey. Our goal was to help supply chain, operations and customer service executives see a path for B2B maturity. The full report, available here, lays out a path to maturity. Taking the first step The first stage of B2B integration maturity is where transactions are executed in siloed, reactive processes reliant on manual technology. In the second stage, organizations begin to transact digitally with a limited number of key trading partners. (for more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity). So how do you make that first move? According to our survey, which looks at 3 aspects of B2B maturity – people, process and technology – there are several things that distinguish stage 2 companies from stage 1 companies. People There are two big people differences between companies at stage 1 and 2. First, there is a shift in decision about B2B integration from internal silos (100% of respondents at level 1) to a centralized structure (48% of respondents at level 2). Second, the emphasis for integrated B2B activities moves from completion of tasks (100% of respondents at level 1) to consistency and accuracy (48% of respondents at level 2) and driving awareness of business performance (16% of respondents at level 2). Process At level 2, processes move from being siloed and disaggregated (100% of respondents at level 1) to being connected (82% of companies at level 2). Additionally, the frequency of process digitization increases beyond 25% of B2B transactions (100% of respondents at stage 1) to between 25-89% of transactions processed digitally (41% of stage 2 respondents). Technology In terms of technology, we begin to move from informal and unstructured information exchanges to unilateral exchanges. In the survey, 39% of companies have taken this first action in moving from the transactional (step 1) to the informative (step 2), with another 26% taking more advanced actions. Also, companies began to move from manual transactions with non-digital partners via non-digital means, such as a phone or fax machine to a standardized template (53% increase in respondents from step 1 to 2) or some level of digitization (12% more responses at step 2 vs step 1). Don’t forget to get your copy of the full report here. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3

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The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3

B2B Integration Maturity

In partnership with OpenText, SCM World conducted a survey of 115 companies from all over the world. The goal was to guide supply chain, operations and customer service executives on the journey to integrating and automating B2B resources, specifically people, technology and processes. The full report, available here, lays out a path to maturity., while the excerpt below features the section of the report which summarizes the current B2B integration maturity landscape. SCM World’s B2B integration maturity survey yielded 115 responses from companies representing the automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), hi-tech, industrial and life sciences industries, among others.  (More on industry results in my next blog post). The percentage of responses by maturity level represents a relatively normal distribution, centered on an overall average maturity of 2.8, as shown in Figure 5 below. If you missed my post on the definitions of the steps – read it here. The largest group of respondents falls in the Analytical (step 3) category on the B2B integration path. Here, demand and supply use cases come together, beginning the multi-tier integration found in progressive steps. The supply chain data available is more than just simple information, and can be analysed more extensively to generate new business insight. Few companies have separated themselves from their peers at the lead along the B2B integration path. 16% of responding companies achieved an overall score greater than 3.4; only 2% scored at or above 4.0. What separates these companies is their Relational (step 4) approach to B2B integration. Here, the focus shifts towards a real-time approach that keeps pace with what is driving the business. Common toolsets and processes are leveraged to drive collaboration upstream and downstream across a growing network of suppliers and customers. Also notable is the move toward partnerships in managing B2B integration operations. CAPABILITY ADVANCEMENT REQUIRES PARTNERSHIPS FOCUSED ON DEVELOPING COMPETENCIES Outsourcing at least part of your B2B integration operations accelerates the expansion of partner networks, enabling collaborative relationships with other leading companies that drive advancement of all elements in parallel. Of the Relational (step 4) companies, 63% of operations are either fully outsourced (25%) or utilise a hybrid of external and internal resources (38%), leaving less than 38% to be run solely with internal staff. The most consistently present qualities across all of the leaders on the path show that: B2B integration is justified by real-time collaboration with trading partners Cross-functional B2B expertise is more evident within IT and/or the line of business Supply chain data is collected and organised via a collaborative network reaching to at least direct customers and suppliers Fully integrated processes exist with customers and/or suppliers More than 70% of all B2B transactions are processed digitally Previous posts in this series worth a read: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? – Pt 2

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Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The results, available in this blog, lay out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. For many organizations, B2B integration is just a means of doing business, a requirement to work with certain suppliers or customers. The survey revealed that companies who have achieved some level of B2B integration maturity have justified their B2B integration investments because it encourages collaborative business growth among partners. (Page 23 of the report) More importantly, the survey showed that the viewpoint of these companies was correct. Those companies who had mature B2B integration programs experienced tangible business benefits over those who did not. Here is an excerpt from the report: Initially, business need for B2B integration is understood, but often companies have yet to see sizeable improvements in business performance. For example, at the beginning of the B2B integration path: 61% have monthly inventory turns of one, or less 66% of companies at the lowest step have 61 days of sales outstanding (DSO), or more 33% are shipping outside of standard process by expediting at least 10% of orders As companies begin their advancement, they are accompanied by metrics improvements, (as shown in the chart below in this blog post). The trajectory of these metrics suggests that performance metrics are positively impacted as B2B integration matures. As companies advance to the analytical (step 3) and relational (step 4) steps on the B2B integration path, key improvements drawn from the study include: 72% of respondents experience savings of at least 20%, as compared to the costs of manual transactions More efficient order management, with 54% of companies expediting 5% of orders, or less Faster inventory turns, with 68% of companies achieving at least two inventory turns per month Better cash management, as 78% of companies at the highest step have 60 days of sales outstanding, or fewer Improvements in stock-out rate and perfect order percentage are also beneficial for advancing companies, as these metrics are reflective of supply chain agility and efficiency. This data coincides with decreased expediting costs, but more importantly creates revenue and profit opportunities by minimizing lost sales and optimizing product flow throughout the value chain. Where metrics have the potential to prove significant value to the business is in calculative metrics such as cash conversion cycle (CCC). The CCC is a conventional metric that, according to Investopedia, “indicates how efficiently management is using short-term assets (e.g. inventory) and liabilities to generate cash”. This is an especially important measure in volatile market conditions, as organizations are under intense pressure to maintain healthy balance sheets and strong cash flows. Ideally, a company’s CCC is as low as possible, with exceptional companies operating at a negative value, by effectively leveraging their supply chains to convert sales to cash prior to the actual transaction. Historically, only a few supply chain stalwarts have sustained a long-term negative CCC – among them Dell, Apple and Amazon. Using SCM World study data, the CCC is calculated for each step of the B2B integration path, based on the range of company responses. The results are quite clear: with each progressive step on the B2B integration path, there is an associated 2-3x improvement in cash conversion cycle. If you missed Part 1 of this series, read 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity.

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5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The research paper, available here, lays out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. A section of the paper that describes the five stages or steps is provided here. What is the B2B integration maturity path? Based on the results of this research, the B2B integration path framework was developed to trace progressive advancement of B2B integration maturity in organizations across key industries. The B2B integration path framework represents a five step journey for advancing B2B integration maturity by using SCM World study data to identify improvements that must be made to increase maturity in the elements of structure and people (people), tools and technology (technology), and process (process). In addition to enabling you to determine your organization’s current level of B2B integration maturity, the framework also allows you to compare your organization’s level of B2B integration maturity versus that of your peers, across industries and against the broader business community. Routes to maturity on the B2B integration path are varied. True progress is marked by the intersections created with simultaneous movement along the three elemental paths of people, technology and process. The five steps on the B2B integration path are defined as follows: Transactional. Tactical execution of siloed, reactive processes on manual technology Informative. Key trading partners engage in foundational business processes, with limited digital visibility Analytical. Collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data Relational. Responsive network, with integration of most trading partners across multi-tier demand and supply networks Generative. Profitable growth cycles driven by end-to-end digital integration throughout the value chain In my next post, I’ll talk about what the research says about the benefits of moving along the B2B integration path.

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Building a Vendor Compliance Program That Improves Relationships – Seminar Series

vendor compliance

I wrote recently about how retailers can improve vendor compliance through deduction management. The premise is that by quickly capturing compliance violations and communicating them to vendors, retailers can prevent recurring violations that occur before the vendor is notified by paper-based processes. Deduction management solutions allow retailers to automate the chargeback or deduction process. Because the process is automated, managed, and clearly documented, most retailers implementing our solution process chargebacks faster. Would you believe that this doesn’t harm vendor relationships – it actually makes them better? That is what Stage Stores experienced when they implemented OpenText™ Active Intelligence for deduction management. How is that possible? This question that will be answered in an upcoming seminar series sponsored by OpenText, taking place in New York, Chicago and Seattle in June. Ken Lettre, Vice President of Vendor Compliance and Relations, will be joining us from Stage Stores to share how OpenText Active Intelligence helped Stage Stores increase accuracy, improve vendor response time from three months to three days and greatly improved the relationship between vendor and retailer. You can learn more and sign up to attend one of these June seminars today.

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Don’t be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity

B2B integration

It is easy to feel a little resentment when someone tells you that you need to be more mature. Frequently our immediately response is – why would I want to be more mature? Coming from the right person, we might instead ask – what do I need to do to be more mature? If you are involved in B2B integration, you need to be more mature. A recent research study by SCM World, sponsored by OpenText, shows that being more mature in B2B integration has tangible business benefits for your organization. The report also defines some things you can focus on in order to become more B2B mature. Business benefits of increased B2B integration maturity included: • Reduced transaction processing costs • Fewer expedited orders • Higher inventory turns • Lower Days Sales Outstanding (DSOs) • Higher perfect order rate • Fewer stockouts Sounds good, doesn’t it? It answers the “why would I want to be more mature?” The research doesn’t stop there. It allows us to understand what companies were doing to become more mature. It helps to answer the question – what do I need to do to be more mature? Interested in learning more about the benefits of B2B integration maturity, and what you can do to get them? Then join OpenText and Kevin O’Marah, SCM World’s Chief Content Officer, in a webinar on 24 May to learn what enterprises are doing to get these results through B2B integration efforts. Register and you’ll get a copy of the full research study report too!

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OpenText Enterprise World 2016 – More Business Network!

Enterprise World

If you’re going to take time away from your busy schedule to attend a vendor event, that event had better be relevant to your job, your business and the OpenText solutions you use. This year, Enterprise World has more B2B and secure messaging. We’ve reduced the number of keynote sessions and added 300% more Business Network breakout sessions to give you valuable insights, such as: How OpenText™ Trading Grid® Analytics delivers unprecedented supply chain intelligence How to reduce onboarding times by more than 50% and better manage supplier information How B2B mobility improves your supply chain responsiveness How to automate your procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes How to jumpstart your Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives with pervasive integration and embedded analytics already available in the Grid Here is how you can GET MORE at Enterprise World 2016 More B2B Presence B2B is a leading strategic investment area for OpenText, and this is clearly reflected at Enterprise World 2016. You will find more than 40 Business Network breakout sessions. Check out these and other sessions: B2B Outsourcing Top 5 Best Practices (B2B-101) How to Achieve Global Shipment Visibility in Your Supply Chain (B2B-209) Improving Vendor Compliance and Relationships Through Automated Deductions Management (B2B-211) More Peer Presenters & Networking Attend Enterprise World 2016 and hear real use cases from your industry peers.  Gain insights and best practices from B2B customers, including MillerCoors, KeyBank, Northbay, Sutter Health and more. Check out these and other sessions: From Zero to Hero: How MillerCoors Transformed its Supply Chain (B2B-105) How KeyBank Grew Customer Satisfaction and Competitiveness with B2B Managed Services (TBD) Fax Customer Panel: Peer Best Practice Sharing with Northbay, Sutter Health (FAX-208) We are also providing more networking opportunities to help you build valuable professional relationships. More Technical Sessions Breakout sessions will cover detailed product updates and roadmap reviews so you can take advantage of the latest capabilities in your solution, and plan for what’s coming next – OpenText™ B2B Managed Services,  OpenText™ Trading Grid VAN and OpenText™ BizManager™ gateway. Technical experts leading discussions are eager to obtain your feedback on priorities and directions. Check out these and other sessions: Roadmap Roundup: BizManager B2B Gateway (B2B-203) Roadmap Roundup: Trading Grid Messaging Service (B2B-204) BizManager Transformation Mapper Workshop (UTR-1-6612) Get a Handle on Document Exchange: Trends in Connectivity and Communications Protocols (B2B-212) More Support & Implementation Best Practices Solution consultants and support experts will provide practical advice for optimizing your solutions, at all stages of their lifecycle. We will arm you with tips and tricks to be more effective in your role. Check out these and other sessions: The New Experience: Business Network Customer Support Update (B2B-215) Simplify & Optimize Your SAP Implementation with B2B Managed Services (B2B-102) How to Get the Most from Business Network Professional Services (B2B-216) More Strategic Direction To be successful, you need to stay ahead of major trends and other disruptive forces. Your B2B ecosystem is no exception. At Enterprise World 2016, you will learn about the impact of digital disruption, the Internet of Things, a bimodal supply chain, embedded analytics, and the movement to cloud and outsourced business models. Turn the buzz into reality and gain practical insights to get started in your organization now—leveraging the investments you’ve already made in OpenText B2B. Check out these and other sessions: Use Business Network Pervasive Integration to Kickstart Your IoT Initiative (B2B-107) Gain Supply Chain Intelligence with Trading Grid Analytics (B2B-207) Assess Your B2B Maturity: Are You Leading or Lagging Your Industry Peers? (B2B-100) More Industry Sessions OpenText understands that industries are bound by common markets, opportunities, and challenges. Learn more from your industry peers at Enterprise World 2016 with the following sessions, among others. Select your industry on the registration page for more. Financial Services: How KeyBank Grew Customer Satisfaction and Competitiveness with B2B Managed Services (TBD) Integration for Banks and Corporate Treasury (B2B-104) Business Networks for Financial Services and Insurance (FNS-200) Manufacturing: Simplify & Optimize Your SAP Implementation with B2B Managed Services (B2B-102) Improve Your Supply Chain Performance With Supplier KPIs (B2B-208) How Will Digital Disruption Impact Manufacturing (MFG-200) Retail: Improving Vendor Compliance and Relationships Through automated Deductions Management (B2B-211) Creating a 360-Degree View of Your Customers with Big Data Analytics (ANA-101) More Value You will get more value from Enterprise World 2016. In addition to these highlights, expect many opportunities to engage with OpenText B2B experts. Also GET MORE at Innovation Labs, Expo Labs, and Customer Reference Roundtables. And don’t forget the Business Network fax and secure messaging portfolio—helping you manage the exchange of unstructured information. Check out these and other sessions: Using OpenText Capture Center to Integrate Faxes into Your Applications (FAX-204) Best Practices in Deploying Secure Messaging Across Your Enterprise (FAX-202) Simplify & Save Money: Extend Faxing to the Cloud (FAX-201) You can register now.

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Improving Vendor Compliance Through Deduction Management

vendor compliance

For retailers, vendor compliance programs are designed to help streamline and standardize the management of expense offset with vendors and/or suppliers. If you are a retailer buying from hundreds (maybe thousands) of vendors, having the ability to ensure shipment and supply chain consistency can save you significant operational costs. But this can create challenges for vendors, who may sell to hundreds of retailers, and need to follow the guidelines for each retailer and/or customer. In order to help with the complexity for both the retailer and the vendor, retailers publish vendor compliance manuals with standards and expectations for doing business with them. (Note –  if you do a web search for “vendor compliance manual” you can see examples of these by various retailers). But, as a retailer, simply publishing standards often isn’t enough for vendors to comply with, unless there is also some form of incentive as well. The incentive typically takes the form of penalties for non-compliance, also known as “chargebacks” or “deductions”. The process for capturing non-compliance, applying penalties, allowing the vendor to challenge specific deductions and then billing or reducing payments can be complex and time-consuming. If the process takes too long, a vendor may send multiple non-compliant shipments before they can be advised of any wrong-doing. Since the real goal of chargebacks is not to generate revenue, but to reduce non-compliance, timely notification and clear communication is essential to a successful program. So how can a retailer automate this process? The simplest answer is through a deduction management solution. One option is the OpenText™ Deduction Management solution, a cloud-based system for capturing non-compliance, automating internal reviews, notifying vendors, managing the dispute process, and scorecarding vendor performance. You can read more about the OpenText Deduction Management solution and view a demonstration of the mobile deduction capture feature running on an Apple iPad Mini below.  

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Integrating Logistics Visibility into your Supply Chain Network

B2B communications

Companies seeking to build a digital supply chain network with their suppliers frequently turn to EDI to digitize transactions and help with automation – placing orders, receiving advanced ship notices, receiving invoices and sending remittance advice. However, in the middle of this automated process, organizations often find themselves having to resort to manual processes for logistics visibility, in order to figure out when a shipment is supposed to arrive, especially for goods shipped via ocean carriers. If you are placing thousands of orders a month and receiving thousands of shipments, this manual process for checking ship status can be expensive as well as a potential risk to your business. This is where OpenText Active Orders new logistics track and trace capability comes in. First, Active Orders allows you to set up digital communication relationships with 3PLs and carriers. Second, as Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) are sent to you from your supplier, Active Orders forwards them to the carriers you have booked transportation with, requesting status updates. Using templates that you build, Active Orders will notify you when a shipment is expected to be late, based on current status. In the Active Orders portal you can see all shipments in transit, including which are at risk of being late, without having to make multiple phone calls, or  look up their status on multiple websites. Active Orders aggregates this information across multiple suppliers, carriers and 3PLs, providing the information your business needs – all in one place. Without this visibility, you could be carrying too much stock in your company, increasing your costs unnecessarily, or regularly running out of stock on certain items, decreasing customer satisfaction with your brand. OpenText Active Orders is a complete purchase-to-pay process for both digital and non-digital trading partners – providing end-to-end visibility of transactions in process – including logistics visibility. Learn more about Active Orders, or discover how one company using Active Orders succeeded in automating and optimizing their purchase-to-pay processes, resulting in increased productivity, reduced paper waste and less time spent troubleshooting and fixing transactions.

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