Marco De Vries

Marco De Vries
Marco is a Senior Director in Product Marketing and responsible for global product marketing, messaging and strategic direction for the OpenText Business Network division. He has 20 years of experience in supply chain automation and e-commerce spanning multiple industries.

What is a Business Network?

Business network

Companies do business outside of their so-called ‘four walls’.  Meaning, they rely on other businesses to accomplish their objective; hence, the importance of business-to-business (B2B) collaboration.  Companies source raw materials, semi-finished goods or services from other companies to manufacture products or to deliver services.  In turn, they sell those products and services to other businesses, consumers, or patients. Along the path to a finished product or service, many other organizations are involved — transportation carriers, distributors, banks, agents, insurance providers, purchasing organizations and more. The list is long.  Among these organizations, procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, corporate-to-bank and other business processes take place.  It’s a complex trading partner ecosystem, one that is always in flux, depending on current market or geopolitical environments. Supporting all of these business processes, of course, is information.  Emails, orders, invoices, ship notices, customs documents, designs, inventory status, pricing, and more. This list is long as well.  Information flows are necessary to support business flows, although often the business applications that run these business processes are not optimized for efficient information flow — especially when that information comes from many different types of systems, in different formats, sent by different protocols, and in different media (XML, EDI, paper, fax, email, etc).  That is where business networks come in. Business networks are cloud collaboration platforms that extend business processes and applications with the required information flows to digitize and automate key business processes.  Business networks are the fiber that hold the economic tapestry together.  A business network may be focused on a specific business process (e-invoicing), on a certain function (indirect procurement), on a specific industry (Automotive), or on a geographic region (EMEA). Ideally, your business network spans all of the above, delivering flexibility and growth of your digitization efforts into the future, regardless of where they may go — buy-side, sell-side, direct and indirect procurement, multi-industry, and global.  This is the OpenText™ Business Network. OpenText Business Network simplifies the inherent complexities in trading partner ecosystems, by providing a single connection that digitizes all information flows, whether they are suppliers, customers, banks or other valued partners — anywhere in the world. As a result, customer requirements can be complied with, suppliers managed, and organizations can focus on delivering their core business objectives.  OpenText Business Network is comprised of multiple solutions, from B2B integration, community management, procure-to-pay, fax, secure messaging, and notifications to provide a complete portfolio of B2B Managed Services solutions. With Release 16, Business Network goes beyond information flows to deliver unparalleled opportunity for digital transformation across extended business communities.  The OpenText™ Business Network Cloud 16 offers hyper automation, pervasive integration, and deep visibility, enabling leaders in the digital economy to leverage information across their extended ecosystem, incorporating trading partners and business processes. Release 16 represents a $2B investment over a 3-year time period to support digital transformation and create a better way to work.  It represents how OpenText is moving beyond Information Exchange (our former name), with a new Trading Grid Analytics service, broader procure-to-pay process support, expanded trading partner enablers and new mobile interfaces that enable anywhere, anytime access. Begin your journey and explore OpenText Business Network Cloud 16!

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The Holiday Evolution: Santa, Mercedes-Benz, UPS, Amazon… and EDI?

One of my favorite commercials each year is Santa climbing into his red Mercedes coupe, the viewers being asked, “How else do you think Santa delivers all those presents in one night?”  It’s clever marketing, even to those unlikely to get a Benz under the tree this year… or ever.  Of course, for those with young children, the ad may lead to some tough questions on how Santa does, in fact, deliver presents around the globe in one evening.  “Holiday magic,” maybe the simplest answer.  But there is more to it than that. It’s more apropos to think of UPS as Santa’s new network of sleighs.  If they were red, it would be spot on.  And Amazon.com has become the North Pole, where kids (and adults!) know everything under the Sun is available for purchase—with instant gratification.  It is difficult enough to wait until a holiday occasion to buy what we want with the ease and convenience of Amazon.com.  When we do shop for the holidays, what can beat the selection, the lack of crowds, free 2-day shipping, and no hassle/no leaving the house return policies? Instead of listening for sleigh bells, the clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof, or the ho-ho-ho of Santa coming down the chimney, my children listen for the rumble of the UPS truck coming down the street, the squealing of the brakes.  Eyes light up with amazement… will it stop at our house, or the neighbors?  The anxiety of it all… and on an almost daily basis this close to the holidays.  Instead of sneaking around the house looking for gifts, or shaking the presents already under the tree, my daughter sizes up the Amazon box and ascertains a Kindle could fit perfectly in that box! The holidays have evolved.  Personally, I like it this way.  It’s convenient.  It’s simple.  But there is more to the evolution than meets the eyes of my children, and even for most adults.  It’s the complex network of transactions that take place to make holiday shopping and shipping so fast, so (relatively) error proof.  What’s really delivering those packages?  It’s EDI—electronic document interchange. EDI is the standard vehicle—Santa’s virtual sleigh—that ensures orders are placed, shipments are sent, goods are received, payments are made and received between manufacturers and retailers/e-tailers.  Without the automation and integration of transactions that make retail and e-commerce work on a global basis, there would be no gifts to buy, no orders to place, no shipments to receive.  EDI may have been around for decades, but with the speed of digital shopping today, it’s more important and relevant than ever.  Out of stocks and back orders are no longer acceptable.  We want our gifts now, so Santa’s elves better keep up, or we simply shop online somewhere else.  EDI powers global supply chains for all industries.  Even the Mercedes Benz in my favorite commercial was assembled and delivered with EDI powering a complex global network of suppliers, distributors, logistics providers and buyers. So when you visit the North Pole at Amazon.com, and when you see Santa’s brown UPS sleigh flying down the street—or even when you drive your car, be it a Mercedes or not—know that it’s EDI making it all work in the background, alongside Santa’s elves.  Discover more about how EDI and other B2B services make the holidays, automobiles, and every other type of supply chain work efficiently.

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Don’t let What Happens in Vegas Stay in Vegas!

At least, not what you learn at OpenText Enterprise World 2015, taking place November 8-13 in Las Vegas, NV. If you are already planning to attend this annual customer event, or are still undecided, ask yourself why you plan to go; what do you hope to take back to your organization? Is it the latest insights on product roadmaps and corporate directions from your technology vendor? To decide whether the solution provider is the right vendor if you’re not already an existing customer? To learn from peers, meet the experts, and share ideas? There are a myriad of reasons. But ultimately, your attendance has to deliver value—something you can take back to your organization that will make a difference in how you work, the value you contribute to your enterprise information management (EIM) efforts, or the overall effectiveness of your technology investment. All are good reasons to attend. However, many would-be attendees struggle to ‘make the case’ for participation in terms of a real ROI. Perhaps the goals aren’t lofty enough. What if you could learn how to dramatically change the course of your company? What if you could learn something new that has a material impact on your organization’s growth, its profitability, its compliance with regulations, and your overall business agility? Most would agree that translates to a strong ROI for a week in Vegas. Challenge yourself to experience something new, and take a new look at what EIM can do for you and your business. Set a stretch goal. How do you do this? By following the Information Exchange (IX) track at Enterprise World. IX is about the secure exchange of information between your organization and its extended trading partner ecosystem. This suite of offerings enables you to automate key processes such as procure to pay, order to cash, secure notifications, funds transfers, payments, logistics, and more. All organizations, regardless of your industry, accomplish their mission “beyond the four walls” of their enterprise—with customers, suppliers, providers, agencies, etc. However, most investments in productivity, automation, security, standardization, etc. are focused within the four walls. Information exchange—B2B and other forms of messaging—are too often relegated to IT… as just a cost of doing business. “We’ve got that covered”… “We have an EDI guy”. Here is the massive stone you can turn at Enterprise World. Look outside the four walls to find savings, drive efficiencies, comply with industry mandates, and leverage supply chain data to optimize processes. Elevating B2B to the C-level vs. an IT project alone. The digital transformation is omnipresent. To leverage new opportunities and face new challenges, you need a comprehensive digital strategy. Follow the IX Track at Enterprise World to learn how to survive—and thrive—in the new digital supply chain. B2B integration and secure messaging is a critical foundation for success in the digital age. Drive down operational cost, mitigate and manage corporate compliance risk, speed time to market and time to value, and focus on your core competencies. OpenText IX will show you how to integrate the processes, systems, and business partners necessary to attain these benefits. Come learn from industry leaders and OpenText experts how information exchange can change the course of your business. Don’t let the best practices stay in Vegas. Take them back with you to your organization. Set a course for growth, profitability, and agility. (Source: SCM World, “Chief Supply Chain Officer Report,” September 2014)

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