Mark Morley

As Director, Strategic Product Marketing for Business Network, Mark leads the product marketing efforts for B2B Managed Services, drives industry and regional alignment with overall Business Network product strategy and looks at how new disruptive technologies will impact future supply chains. Mark also has over 23 years industry experience across the discrete manufacturing sector.

Achieve Deeper Supply Chain Intelligence with Trading Grid Analytics

supply chain analytics

In an earlier blog I discussed how analytics could be applied across supply chain processes to help businesses make more informed decisions relating to their trading partner communities. Big Data analytics has been used across supply chain operations for a few years, however the real power of analytics can only be realized if it is actually applied across the transactions flowing between trading partners. Embedding analytics to transaction flows allows companies to get a more accurate ‘pulse’ of what is going on across supply chain operations. In this blog, I would like to introduce a new offering as part of our Release 16 launch, OpenText™ Trading Grid Analytics. The OpenText™ Business Network processes over 16 billion EDI related transactions per year and this provides a rich seam of information to mine for improved supply chain intelligence. Last year,OpenText expanded its portfolio of Enterprise Information Management solutions with the acquisition of an industry leading embedded analytics company. The analytics solution that OpenText acquired is being embedded within a number of cloud-based SaaS offerings that are connected to OpenText’s Business Network. Trading Grid Analytics provides the ability to mine transaction flows for both operational and business specific metrics.  I explained the difference between operational and business metrics in my previous blog, but just to recap here briefly: Operational metrics can be defined as: delivering transactional data intelligence and volume trends needed to improve operational efficiencies and drive company profitability. Business metrics can be defined as: delivering the business process visibility required to make better decisions faster, spot and pursue market opportunities, mitigate risk and gain business agility. Trading Grid Analytics will initially offer a total of nine out-of-the-box metrics (covering EDIFACT and ANSI X12 based transactions), which will be made up of two operational and seven business metrics, all of which are displayed in a series of highly graphical reporting dashboards. Operational Metrics Volume by Document Type – Number and type of documents sent and received over a period of time (days, months, years) Volume by Trading Partners – Number and type of documents sent and received, ordered by top 10 and bottom 10 partners Business Metrics ASN Timeliness – Number of timely ASN creation instances as a percentage of total ASNs for a time period Price Variance – The actual invoiced cost of a purchased item, compared to the price at the time of order Invoice Accuracy – Measures whether invoices accurately reflect orders placed in terms of product, quantities, and price by supplier, during a specified period of time Quantity Variance – The remaining quantity to be invoiced from a purchase order, equalling the difference between the quantity delivered and the quantity invoiced for goods received Order Acceptance – Fully acknowledged POs as a percentage of total number of POs within a given period of time Top Partners by Spend – Top trading partners by the economic spend over a period of time Top Products by Spend – Top products by economic spend over time Supply chain leaders and procurement professionals need an accurate picture of what is going on across their trading partner communities so that they can, for example, identify leading trading partners and have information available to support the negotiation of new supply contracts. Trading Grid Analytics is a cloud-based analytics platform that offers: Better Productivity – Allows any transaction related issues to be identified and resolved more quickly Better Insight – Deeper insights into transactional and supply chain information driving more informed decisions Better Control – Improved visibility to exceptions and underperforming partners allows corrective action to be taken earlier in a business process Better Engagement – Collaborate more closely with top partners and mitigate risk with under-performing partners Better Innovation – Cloud-based reporting portal provides access any time, any place or anywhere More information about Trading Grid Analytics is available here.

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How IoT Will Enable Future Device Managed Inventory Processes


Last week I spent a very productive day with a leading technology analyst discussing the Internet of Things (IoT). The analyst had recently switched to covering IoT instead of B2B integration and EDI, so we had a very interesting discussion relating to the role of IoT in the supply chain, and how it will help to introduce more self-sensing, closed-loop processes to companies across multiple industries. I have been closely following the IoT sector for nearly three years now and have posted a few blogs on this subject. In this blog I wanted to highlight one significant area that I covered in an interview for Forbes magazine last year. I hadn’t realised the significance of the article at the time, which discusses how in the future, connected devices or things could potentially initiate some form of procurement process by themselves using analytics-based techniques to measure usage or consumption patterns for the connected device concerned. Say hello to Device Managed Inventory (DMI)! The analyst was quite surprised that this concept had not been mentioned before, and asked the ten participants in our meeting to search for the term “Device Managed Inventory” on Google, and only our reference was found. It’s rare to lay claim to a new industry term, but I certainly believe that we will see rapid adoption of DMI as more and more supply chain-related devices get connected to IoT platforms around the world. DMI is really an evolution of Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) which has been around for years. Companies across the retail and high tech sectors have deployed VMI processes with key trading partners to help streamline their supply chain operations. VMI is part of a family of business models in which the buyer of a product provides certain information to a vendor (supply chain) supplier of that product and the supplier takes full responsibility for maintaining an agreed inventory of the material, usually at the buyer’s consumption location. A 3PL provider could also be involved to make sure that the buyer has the required level of inventory by adjusting the demand and supply gaps. The aim of VMI is to essentially prevent the buyer from running out of stock and to minimise inventory across supply chains, for example in warehouses or regional fulfillment centres. EDI has been central to this particular process for many years. The key to making DMI work smoothly is to efficiently collect information from sensors attached to the connected device, as in the case of the vending machine example shown below, and then feed this information into an analytics platform. Analytics routines would then continuously monitor consumption patterns, compare with stock levels, and when the levels get near to or below a predefined level, a procurement process would be initiated by the connected device and an automated EDI transaction would be generated and sent to the supplier for fulfillment. This application of DMI is really a form of Proactive Replenishment, the aim being to ensure that stock levels are always within a certain set of min/max levels and hence ensure that customer satisfaction levels are maintained. DMI would certainly be useful for replenishing stock levels in retail stores, maintaining fluid levels within gasoline storage tanks or parts quantities in storage bins located next to manufacturing production lines. This type of scenario, whereby the connected device initiates an EDI transaction, could also be applied in a Predictive Maintenance scenario. So for example sensors fitted to a vehicle’s water pump could detect water flow rate changes, perhaps due to a leaking seal or crack in the casing. This information would be transmitted to a vehicle service centre where new parts could be proactively ordered with the relevant supplier. The driver of the car would be notified that the water pump would likely fail within a 1000 miles and their vehicle would be booked in to have the replacement part fitted. I have discussed both of these scenarios in an earlier blog, where I looked at use cases for IoT across the supply chain and how analytics could leverage information flowing across the supply chain to make more informed decisions. Many of the key building blocks to make the above scenarios a reality actually exist today. MQTT, for example, is a relatively new open source communications protocol used to connect devices to a network. To learn more about how analytics will drive future supply chain operations, take a look at this earlier blog. Read more from the analyst I spoke with, who described DMI as a “Gob-Smacking B2B IT Mash-up”, in his blog here.

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Understanding the Basics of Supply Chain Analytics

vendor compliance

Today’s supply chains move millions of shipments around the world each year, but just think for a moment about the information required to ensure these shipments get from A to B safely and on time. The information flows, primarily based on EDI/B2B transactions, to support today’s global supply chains are growing in volume year-on-year. What benefits could a business obtain by being able to monitor these information flows and obtain deeper insights into what makes supply chains ‘tick’? Say hello to supply chain analytics. Monitoring the day-by-day, hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute ‘pulse’ of a supply chain could potentially bring significant operational and business benefits to a company. From a supply chain point of view, companies are looking for answers to questions such as: Who are my top suppliers and how many B2B transactions have I exchanged with them? Who are my top (and bottom) performing suppliers based on specific key performance indicators such as complete orders, accurate shipments, on-time deliveries and processing of payments? For which suppliers/customers has the order/payment volume increased or decreased by more than 30% over the last 12 months? Which of my customers sent me the most orders during the end of year holiday period and which ones sent many changes? Here at OpenText we are processing over 16 billion transactions per year across our Trading Grid B2B network. These transactions are feeding global supply chains with rich information to help ensure that orders are processed in time, deliveries are shipped to the correct destinations and invoices not only get paid on time but comply with the ever increasing number of compliance regulations. Now what if you could apply Big Data analytics to supply chain operations in order to obtain deeper insights into how your digital information flows are supporting your physical shipment flows around the world? According to many leading analysts, Business Intelligence and Analytics are the most important focus areas for the CIO in 2016. Big Data analytics has been around for a few years now, really emerging in 2010 with mobile and cloud based technologies, but it is really only over the last two years that companies have started to embrace Big Data across the enterprise. You only have to look at recruitment websites to see that one of the hottest jobs in the market at the moment are for Big Data Scientists, those that can understand rich data sets, analyse and then report on them. There are many EDI document standards supporting today’s global supply chains, with ANSI and EDIFACT formats being the most prevalent. But if you go to the EDI document level there are really just two types of information that are useful from a supply chain analytics point of view. Firstly,operational-based information and secondly, business specific information, so what does this information actually look like? Operational information could be considered as the type of documents flowing between trading partners across a supply chain, so this would include Purchase Orders, Invoices, Advanced Ship Notices (ASNs) and Order Acknowledgements. The volume of these transactions could run into thousands, or for a large global company, millions per year. What if you could use this information to determine the volume of transactions by document type and volume of transactions by trading partner? Applying analytics, let’s call it operational in nature, could help to determine the top trading partners that a company deals with on an annual basis and also provide insights into the most popular document types being exchanged. Chances are, companies doing business only in North America will be exchanging more ANSI-based documents while companies doing business on a global basis will be using EDIFACT. So, Operational Analytics could be defined as delivering transactional data intelligence and volume trends needed to improve operational efficiencies and drive company profitability. Business information could be considered as the data from within each document type. So for example for an ASN, it would contain information such as delivery address, shipment details, quantity, sender details etc. What if you could actually perform deep introspection on each business transaction as it flows across a B2B network and then use this information to produce a series of business-related trends that could be reviewed, and if necessary, acted upon? Applying analytics, in this case business analytics, could potentially help a business to determine ASN timeliness, Invoice Accuracy, Price Variance and so on. If there are any exceptions or errors then the business can take corrective action and resolve any problems much sooner. So, Business Analytics could be defined as delivering business process visibility required to make better decisions faster, spot and pursue market opportunities, mitigate risk and gain business agility. Applying operational and business analytics to a pool of billions of transactions flowing across a business network could transform the day to day work activities of supply chain, logistics and procurement professionals around the world. Let me briefly highlight two use cases for supply chain analytics. The retail industry is highly consumer driven and seasonal in nature which introduces significant fluctuations in the procurement process. Being able to monitor the volume of documents, by type, across a business network can potentially provide retailers with some interesting indirect insights into consumer demand in different markets around the world. Applying operational analytics, especially when applied to a few years of historical data could help to forecast potential order volumes and therefore allow retailers to be better prepared for seasonal fluctuations. Operational analytics, based on B2B transactions could potentially transform the retail industry, making it more responsive to consumer demands and ensure that inventory levels are aligned more accurately with expected demand levels. In the automotive industry, ‘ASN Timeliness’ is one of the most important variables measured to ensure that Just-in-Time production lines are running smoothly. ASN timeliness can be defined as the number of ASNs sent on time divided by the total number of shipments within a specified time period. Many automotive companies use ASN timeliness as the basis of monitoring the performance of their trading partner community. Applying business analytics in this case allows a car manufacturer to not only monitor supplier performance from an ASN delivery point of view, but also compare suppliers against each other to create a top ten ranking of delivery. What if you could monitor the ‘live’ transactions flowing across a business network and apply business analytics to monitor trends and exceptions before they impact the business? As shown by the ASN timeliness chart above you can use analytics to very quickly assess and compare the performance of your trading partners. Some car manufacturers use ASN timeliness as the basis of determining whether penalties or even contract termination should be applied. So in summary, applying analytics across trading partner information flowing across a business network could: Provide a complete 360 degree view of supply chain activities Offer deeper insights into transaction based trading partner activities Provide earlier identification of exceptions, allowing corrective action to be taken sooner and prevent supply chain disruptions Allow more informed business decisions to be made The  two examples above are based on company specific transactions flowing across a business network, but what about looking at a community as a whole? Applying analytics to an entire community of companies connected to a business network could provide some interesting insights into business/industry activity as a whole. Every month the manufacturing industry, one of the main contributors towards a country’s GDP, waits to hear from global economists as to how each country around the world has performed. The Purchasers Managers Index (PMI) measures eight key metrics each month, for example number of new orders, stock levels, production output and changes in employment levels. A PMI number above 50 signifies that a country is in growth and a number below 50 signifies contraction. Three periods of contraction will normally signify that a country is going into recession. The numbers below relate to the January 2016 manufacturing PMI numbers for the G8 member countries. You can quickly see here that Japan and Italy tied in January as the fastest growing economies in relation to manufacturing PMI. OpenText™ Trading Grid connects over 600,000 companies, and processes over 16 billion transactions with a commerce value of over $6.5 trillion. Applying analytics to this scale of transaction volumes could provide deep and very rich insights at both industry and country level as to what is happening from a business growth or contraction perspective. If you were to apply analytics to a community of trading partners on this scale then in theory our results should be broadly in line with the PMI trends, especially as many of the order volumes for example being measured as part of the PMI process are actually moving across our Trading Grid infrastructure as EDI transactions. I have only scratched the surface in this blog about how analytics can be used to provide operational, business, customer and community-related insights to supply chain operations and further blogs over the next few months will take a closer look at each of these areas. If you would like to see how analytics can be used in a different situation, in this case to monitor the US elections coverage,take a look at our Election Tracker. Also take a look at Trading Grid Analytics, a new breed of embedded analytics that provide insights across entire business flows.

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Enabling the Digital Supply Network at OpenText’s UK Innovation Tour


Since joining OpenText in January 2014, through the acquisition of GXS, I have presented many sessions on our Innovation Tour stops and at our major annual conference, Enterprise World. No sooner did Enterprise World finish last November, we have been busy planning for our 2016 Innovation Tour. We have five Innovation Tour stops this year, starting in Sydney, then moving onto Tokyo, Germany, Paris and finally the UK. We also have a number of shorter events in other locations such as Singapore. The aim of these events is to educate, inspire and ultimately demonstrate how our portfolio of Enterprise Information Management solutions can enable a better way to work in the digital world. Our event in London this year is being hosted on the 10th March at the etc Venues Conference Centre, St Paul’s, Aldgate and it will offer a comprehensive agenda with keynote and customer sessions in the morning and over twenty breakout sessions (split into five key themes) in the afternoon. We will also have an expo area where all the solutions being discussed in the breakout sessions will be brought to life across a series of demo pods. As with the photo at the top of this blog post, the future of enterprise IT infrastructures is becoming increasingly cloudy and we will be discussing a number of cloud and on premises based solutions at the event. If you are from a supply chain, B2B or EDI background or you are responsible for managing trading partner activities across a business network we have three breakout sessions which may be of interest to you. Details of these sessions are shown below. Our CEO recently posted a blog discussing how supply chains are evolving into supply networks, and it certainly provides a view of the future of the business network. We will have three business network themed sessions during the event in London: Use your business network to optimise your supply chain while focusing on your core business – The digital experience requires a network, trading partners, extreme automation, and deep visibility across all key functions, from transactions and cash management through to the physical supply chain. However, conducting business electronically with your extensive trading partner ecosystem is hard work, costly, and worse -a distraction to your core business. To keep up with the pace of market and technology change and remain competitive, you need to digitise and optimise your supply chain. This session discusses how OpenText Business Network helps your organisation drive efficiency, speed, time to market, and focus on your core business – so you can add more value to your customers. Creating a 360-degree view of your supply chain with business network – Achieving a true 360 degree view of supply chain operations is becoming a key challenge faced by many companies. From obtaining end to end visibility of B2B transactions, tracking shipments across third party logistics providers, through to being able to ‘mine’ transaction based information using Big Data analytics techniques. Collectively these can all contribute towards addressing the challenge of improving end to end visibility across a supply chain. This session will introduce how the OpenText Business Network can leverage analytics and visibility based solutions to help provide a window into your supply chain. This session also discusses how achieving deeper visibility into transactions enables informed decision making. Connect business processes and secure messaging to ensure compliance and increase productivity – Businesses share information in a variety of ways, but employees often avoid or circumvent official sharing mechanisms because they are hard to use and inefficient. OpenText Business Network offers a variety of solutions for sharing messages, files, faxes, SMS and voice in a simple, but secure and auditable manner. These solutions integrate into a variety of business applications – including OpenText Content Suite, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, SAP, and Oracle – and provide APIs for custom integration to other applications. Attend this session to learn how customers are using these solutions to improve compliance and increase productivity in business communications. We have many other sessions planned for London, covering our entire Enterprise Information Management portfolio, please register below for further information.  

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Applying a ‘Marginal Gains’ Approach to Improving Retail Supply Chain Performance

Shutterstock 210116

Today’s retailers are under constant pressure to adapt their business strategies to meet ever changing consumer demands whilst at the same time improve the day to day performance of their supply chain operations. This blog will discuss how adopting a ‘marginal gains’ approach to implementing a B2B environment can help improve the overall performance of retail based supply chain operations. The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. I thought it would be interesting to highlight a number of key trends that will impact the retail industry in 2016. Omni-Channel Retail Continues to Become More Pervasive – Omni-channel retailing has been one of the main trends to impact retailers in recent years. The growth in adoption of online mobile retail has changed the dynamics of consumer buying patterns and retail distribution. Even though ‘brick and mortar’ stores will continue to have a place in the high street, the ability to quickly price compare online and review online product and store details is transforming the way in which consumers choose how and where to buy their goods. Retailers therefore need to be able to source goods at competitive prices as well as ensure they are working with ‘responsive’ suppliers that can work with ever changing consumer demands. Low Price, Discount Retailers Continue to be a key Growth Segment – Price is king in the retail sector and low cost ‘brand name’ products have fuelled the growth in the discount store sector. In some countries such as the UK, the quality of the store experience in some cases has taken second place to new discount stores that can offer the same goods for significantly less. The discount store concept is built on a number of key principles, especially in relation to low overheads, simplified logistics processes and finely tuned supply chain operations. To align with the low cost dynamics of the discount stores, retailers will have to provide relatively low cost methods to seamlessly collaborate with suppliers. Retailers Invest in ‘Last Mile’ Shipment Delivery Services – So called ‘Last Mile’ delivery is a key logistics related challenge for today’s retailers. Online retailers such as Amazon are experimenting with a number of new technologies, for example their drone based Prime Air delivery service, to complement their existing delivery methods. Last mile delivery is especially important in busy city centres and retailers that can find a way to deliver products efficiently to a consumer will be able to develop a strong advantage over their competitors. New Technologies Driving Improved In Store Customer Experience – Retailers are starting to leverage new disruptive technologies to improve the in store buying experience and encourage repeat purchases. The exponential growth in mobile devices has allowed today’s consumer to become more ‘informed’, not just before they enter a brick and mortar store, but while they are inside, for example doing online price comparisons before making a buying decision. To help influence the buying decision retailers will increase the use of technologies such as ‘augmented reality’ for product demonstrations and beacon location technologies to try and draw consumers into making a purchase within their stores. Improved 360 Degree Visibility of Retail Supply Chains – Retailers will continue to look for new ways to improve visibility into consumer buying patterns and supply chain operations. In fact in the retail sector, consumer buying patterns and supply chain operations are intrinsically linked. The use of big data analytics in the retail sector will continue to grow exponentially as retailers look for different ways to mine consumer related buying information and align with transaction based shipping information from supply chain operations. From analysing consumer buying patterns from loyalty card schemes through to monitoring the end to end performance of a ‘last mile’ third party logistics provider, ensuring that you have a complete 360 degree view of retail and logistics operations can literally make or break a retail business. So with these technology trends changing consumer buying habits and impacting the future operation of retail supply chains, how can retailers establish a B2B platform that supports their future business requirements and at the same time improve the overall performance of their supply chain operations? Adopting a Marginal Gains Approach to Improving Retail Network Performance Over the years many management theories have been developed to improve supply chain operations.  One of the most famous theories to be developed and indeed put into extensive practice across the Japanese manufacturing industry is Kaizen. Kaizen is a process that was initially developed to help with the continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiencies. In a similar way, the ‘marginal gains’ theory was developed to achieve a similar effect, that is to make small incremental adjustments to a process, that collectively help to significantly improve overall performance of that process. I will go into further details on the exact details of a marginal gains approach in a future blog, but in elite sports such as Formula One Racing, Rowing, Sailing and Cycling it has now become common place. In a world where the difference between first and second, ie winning and losing, can be miniscule and as a result significant time, money and effort is placed on finding ways to get an advantage on the competition. If you don’t evolve and improve your performance then you will get left behind and the same happens in business. The marginal gains theory originally came from British Cycling, masterminded in the build up to the Beijing Olympics by their Performance Director, Sir Dave Brailsford. Brailsford now runs the incredibly successful Team Sky. In summary, the principle that Brailsford introduced was that if you could improve every variable underpinning or influencing your performance by just 1% then cumulatively you get a significant performance improvement or in the case of the British Cycle terms, an “aggregate of marginal gains”. The British Cycle Team has examined everything that impacts on bike speed and systematically looked to make improvements to equipment, technology, rider preparation, fitness, rider mindset, coaching and so the list goes on. The trick is being able to identify all these key variables and then from a marginal gains point of view being able to act on them in some way so as to make improvements and strive for performance excellence. Let me now discuss how this approach can be applied to a supply chain environment and in particular developing a B2B network to work seamlessly with trading partners around the world. B2B networks are incredibly complicated and many companies are unable to establish full B2B capabilities from day one. A better approach would be to take a step by step approach, ie onboard all trading partners to a single network first and ensure you can trade electronically with them. Then look at improving the people to people or collaboration across the supply chain, then look at automating specific business processes such as invoicing and perhaps introduce tools to provide end to end visibility. The introduction of each additional piece of functionality could be considered as taking a marginal gains approach to improving the overall efficiency of a B2B network and I have summarised this approach in the diagram below. Retailers can certainly benefit from adopting a marginal gains approach to improving their supply chain operations and given that trading partner engagement is a key part of today’s retail industry I thought for the purposes of this blog I would expand on how companies can use collaborative B2B solutions to improve trading partner engagement. I will expand on the other five improvement areas in a future blog entry. As discussed earlier, the retail industry is becoming increasingly omni-channel in nature and retailers are beginning to adopt ‘mobile first’ strategies to appeal to today’s consumer. Ensuring that store shelves remain full whilst at the same time trying to increase the number of inventory turns and improve service quality is becoming a difficult area to balance. Key to this is ensuring that retailers are able to work seamlessly with trading partners, whether suppliers, logistics providers or financial institutions. A recent OpenText sponsored study with IDC Manufacturing Insights found that many CPG based suppliers had a relatively low adoption of B2B technologies. In fact 94% of CPG companies that responded to the study said that they traded electronically with less than 50% of their trading partners. Anything that can help automate their business processes will help to strengthen the relationships with their customers, namely the retailers. Exchanging transactions electronically with trading partners is only one part of the equation, the other part is ensuring that you have a suitable environment for managing the people to people interactions across a supply chain. Retailers, and in fact companies in many other industries, face a constant challenge to manage their trading partner communities effectively and there are a number of issues, for example: There is no single source of supplier contact information Minimal automation of supplier setup and registration Continuing need to onboard suppliers faster, especially when entering new markets Reduce overall supplier onboarding and associated management costs Monitor supply chain risk & performance Overcome ERP and Master Data Management Integrity issues Embracing legal and regulatory compliance issues OpenText Active Community is an enterprise wide collaboration platform that helps companies improve the way in which they engage or collaborate with their trading partner community. By providing a web based collaboration platform that allows suppliers to update their own contact information as and when required helps to ensure that you can reach out to a supplier community in a more efficient manner. At the end of the day if a supplier wishes to do business with a retailer then it is in their own interest to at least make sure they are contactable. Active Community not only allows companies to keep up to date contact information about each and every supplier, it also provides a platform to send out regular communications to a trading partner community. We will be delivering a webinar in the near future which will go into more details about the key technical features of Active Community, but essentially the cloud based platform provides two key capabilities that allows retailers to collaborate effectively with their trading partner community: Supplier Registration: automates and accelerate the setup of new suppliers. Retailers will typically have hundreds or thousands of suppliers located in different parts of the world and ensuring that they can be onboarded as quickly as possible is important. Simplifying the supplier registration process helps to: Centralize the supplier management process and helps to simplify ongoing management and maintenance of a supplier community Reduce the time and cost associated with executing supplier registration processes Accelerate time to market which in turn improves market competitiveness and increases sales opportunities Reduce data errors by registering suppliers through an online collaborative approval process Information Management: helps to ensure that supplier information is available from a central hub and is kept up to date. It also allows suppliers to be segmented as required, for example which suppliers are EDI enabled, which suppliers are receiving purchase orders electronically etc. Providing a 360 degree view of supplier related information offers a number of benefits: Provides a holistic view of supplier information from a single contact database. Offers a fully configurable platform to reflect one or many business requirements as desired by a hub Improve data control by enabling the governance of self-service access to supplier information Synchronize data with back-office systems such as ERP and CRM Today’s retailers are under pressure to reduce costs and at the same time adapt their business models to meet constantly changing consumer demands. Adopting a marginal gains approach to managing a B2B environment and the associated trading partner community can help to better align a retail operation to the needs of the consumer market. Improving trading partner engagement is only one part of developing a marginal gains approach to establishing a B2B environment to support a business and I will expand on this concept in a future blog entry. In the meantime if you would like further information on Active Community then please visit our website.

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OpenText Discusses 2016 Supply Chain Technology Predictions with Santa Claus


Every year I manage to gain an audience with Santa to brief him on the latest trends that OpenText is seeing in the market. Last year I introduced Santa to OpenText’s Enterprise Information Management solutions and in previous years I have discussed the Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing and how Santa’s organization could take an outsourced approach to managing B2B transactions flowing across his global business and supply chain operations. Santa’s back end B2B network is affectionately known as the Present Distribution Network and all key trading partners including contract toy manufacturers and regional distribution partners are connected to this network. In addition, OpenText developed a direct integration with Santa’s ERP environment as well as integrate to SantaNet, Santa’s present ordering portal that the children of the world use to place their orders for presents. Santa’s IT department, mainly consisting of some bright elves from Norway, have also developed some mobile apps which connect to a GPS box and sensors aboard Santa’s sleigh. You may be wondering how Santa manages to store millions of presents on his sleigh, well, he uses a network of hundreds of present distribution hubs to replenish his sleigh as he travels around the world on the night of 24th December each year. As a reminder, Santa originally signed a B2B Managed Services contract in 2008 and since then he has deployed various B2B solutions and services from OpenText to support his operations around the world. OpenText is Santa’s official provider of Information Management Solutions. Moving to a hosted platform has completely transformed Santa’s procure to pay business and logistics related processes. Over the past seven years I have carefully recorded my meetings with Santa and documented my findings via my annual Santa blog. Even though the discussion last year was around the broader story from OpenText and how our Enterprise Information Management solutions could support other digital transformation initiatives across Santa’s business, I thought for this year I would provide Santa with an update on how digital transformation is likely to impact supply chains in 2016. During 2015, I have spent many hours looking at how new disruptive technologies are likely to impact global supply chains, from drones to 3D printing, robots to the Internet of Things, technology developments are moving incredibly fast. 2015 has really been about providing awareness of what these technologies are and how they can be used, but in 2016 I believe many of these technologies will become more pervasive across the enterprise and global supply chains. So, for this blog, I wanted to re-introduce some of these key disruptive technologies and explain to Santa how I believe they will be applied to global supply chains and of course explain to the big man himself how they could benefit his operations at the North Pole and across the world. Santa has already deployed an ‘Internet of Santa’s Things’ Platform which has transformed his present related distribution activities. As with any connected device, a connected sleigh has brought many benefits, not just in being able to proactively replenish onboard present inventory levels but also to apply predictive maintenance techniques to some of the more secret components that make up Santa’s sleigh. There is actually a lot more technology that goes into designing Santa’s sleigh than meets the eye! Santa’s sleigh was the first ‘thing’ to be connected to the present delivery network hub however Santa’s team of elves have identified many other things that will be connected to the platform over the coming months. Many analyst firms are predicting billions of devices being connected to Internet of Things platforms around the world, what they haven’t taken into account are the additional billions of devices across Santa’s end to end supply chain! The diagram below provides a very simplistic block diagram overview of Santa’s IoT platform. So let me now recap my three hour conversation with Santa, highlighting how new technologies will start to impact global supply chains in the future and, of course, how this technology could potentially be used across Santa’s operations. Where possible I have included links to other blogs that may provide deeper insights into some of the concepts being discussed. 1. Supply Chain Analytics One of the biggest growth areas in 2016 will be how companies start to deploy analytics based technologies across their business and end to end platforms, this is a subject that I recently blogged on. Until recently, companies have been obtaining and archiving many different data points, but I think 2016 will see more focus on what can be done with this information, how it can be archived, mined and acted upon to improve the efficiency of tomorrow’s business environments. 2016 will also see significant growth in the adoption of executive dashboards which take information stored in a Big Data archive and present in such a way that companies can immediately see the ‘pulse’ of their business operations. Two years ago I introduced ‘SantaPad’ to Santa’s operations, an Apple iPad based tool that allowed Santa to monitor key KPIs across his business. I have included a more up to date screen shot below of Santa’s current Executive Information System (EIS), a platform that is available on multiple devices and it allows Santa to remain ‘connected’ to his operation irrespective of where he may be travelling around the world. The EIS is very graphical in nature and it not only presents key business KPIs but it also monitors all transactions coming in via the SantaNET present ordering portal. So in 2016, I would expect to see explosive growth in executive dashboards to help companies make more informed decisions relating to analytics based information coming into their business. 2. Supply Chain Visibility Improving end to end supply chain visibility or providing a 360 degree view of business operations has been a goal of many companies in recent years. If you can achieve more pervasive, end to end visibility across a trading partner community then it can bring significant benefits to how a supply chain operation is run. Whether you are looking to obtain better visibility of customer shipments or monitor the lifecycle of an order based transaction moving across a procure to pay process, I believe 2016 will see further growth in this aspect of supply chain management. Over the last five years, numerous mobile devices have been brought to the market but it is now the wearable devices that are starting to gain interest across enterprises around the world, and Santa’s operation is no different. In early 2015, Apple introduced their watch to the market and I wrote a blog to highlight how I thought it could be used across the enterprise. Again, 2015 has been about understanding what this technology can do. In 2016, I believe we will start to see more wearable devices such as the Apple Watch being deployed across the extended enterprise. In the same way that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies have changed how employees connect to enterprise resources, I believe this will be the same case for connected, wearable devices. Santa has always had a good relationship with Apple, not only because he is effectively the largest distributor of its technologies in the world, but his elves get access to early prototypes of Apple concept models. The same is true for the Apple Watch and Santa’s team of app developers have managed to port the SantaNET EIS onto the Apple Watch. Same look and feel as if you were viewing on a Laptop PC or tablet device, but presented in a simpler, cut down user interface. The screenshot below shows the version of the EIS as worn by Santa. So in 2016, Wearable devices such as Apple’s Watch will start to see faster adoption across supply chain operations. To give you an idea of how Apple’s Watch could be used to view B2B transaction based information, please take a look at this earlier blog entry. Another example of where wearable technologies could be used across a supply chain environment, is with Microsoft’s HoloLens. I recently posted a blog discussing how HoloLens could provider deeper insights into B2B transactions flowing across a business. I explained to Santa that the headset-based technology could help his elves keep track of supply chain shipments and B2B transactions moving across his global supply chain operations. The image below shows a small part of the supply chain transactions moving across Santa’s Present Delivery Network and, in particular, the B2B transactions being exchanged with both toy suppliers and Santa’s global network of contract toy manufacturing hubs in EMEA and North America. Microsoft’s HoloLens brings together the virtual and real world environments so that more informed decisions can be made. It also allows transaction-based information to be viewed in a more human friendly manner. With Google expecting to release another version of Glass I expect enterprise interest in wearable devices to pick up considerably in 2016. 3. Supply Chain Process Automation Supply chains embrace many different business processes, from procure to pay, order to cash, reverse logistics and drop ship related warehouse processes. Managing the orchestration of supply chain related B2B transactions can be one of the most time consuming aspects of enabling a trading partner community. Given that most companies typically have all their business processes mapped out in some way, I think, in 2016 we will see more companies deploy Business Process Monitoring tools to help bring more control to supply chain processes and ensure that B2B transactions move across a business according to predefined process flows. Being able to choose a process flow to introduce to a business and then have all B2B transactions follow the selected process from end to end will help to streamline supply chain operations. I provided Santa with a very simple example, actually based on a Forbes related article that I contributed towards earlier this year. The image below highlights a closed loop spare parts ordering process, whereby a connected device, in this case Santa’s sleigh, is able to actually raise its own B2B transaction and initiate a procure to pay process by itself. The enabler to this, of course, is advanced analytics combined with various sensors monitoring all key components inside Santa’s sleigh. As time is the main enemy of Santa, and he only has one Sleigh to deliver all his presents, any potential downtime can severely impact his present delivery operations. The example below supports a predictive maintenance scenario for Santa’s sleigh. Sensors onboard the sleigh detect when a problem is likely to occur. The sleigh automatically raises an EDI transaction which is sent back to the Present Delivery Network using the MQTT protocol, an open sourced communication protocol to support Internet of Things connected devices. The network would then send the order transaction via OFTP2 to an external supplier who would then ship the replacement part to the nearest sleigh maintenance centre to Santa’s location in the world. Santa thought that the concept was quite interesting as it tied together predictive analytics, IoT and a spare parts ordering process. So, in 2016, I think we will see more B2B transactions being more tightly aligned with business process monitoring solutions and information from IoT connected devices to help support the introduction of more closed loop business processes. Dare I say we may see more intelligent digital supply chains being introduced in 2016? 4. Supply Chain Logistics One of the biggest growth areas in 2016 for the logistics and transportation sector will be the introduction of drone-based delivery services. Amazon is certainly pioneering the introduction and application of drone-based delivery networks, however, at the same time it has opened up a number of issues associated with government regulations related to how these drones are operated. Third Party Logistics (3PL) providers such as DHL are starting to look at how drones can be used across a supply chain network, especially in situations where so called ‘last mile’ deliveries have to be made. There are various research efforts being carried out by companies to develop other forms of drone devices including autonomous vehicles which can be driven remotely to an end customer, for example, Daimler’s truck operation recently carried out tests on a fully autonomous truck. I certainly believe that 2015 has been the year of experimentation for drone based technologies but in 2016, subject to regulatory bodies approving the testing of drone based logistics ‘airways’, I think we will start to see this technology being used across short distance delivery networks. Given the exponential growth in the younger generation, I explained to Santa that a drone based delivery network could be deployed across his operations to help with expedited shipments of presents around the world. Santa has already been working with the US DARPA research agency to understand how he can embrace a ‘swarm’ of drones to help him deliver presents around the world. This would include micro drones that could be despatched from his sleigh to deliver presents on to the door steps rather than being thrown down dusty old chimneys! In addition to drones, another form of disruptive technology that is likely to impact logistics networks, are 3D printers. In some cases 3D printers could actually see the introduction of ‘zero length’ supply chains. Clearly, we won’t see logistics networks vanishing overnight because products can potentially be 3D printed on demand, the application of 3D printers is somewhat limited in terms of the type of parts that can be manufactured. Yes, some companies such as Local Motors in North America hope to launch the world’s first commercially available 3D printed car in the near future, but 3D printing seems to be finding its niche in the 3D printing of replacement parts in the maintenance sector. So, in Santa’s case, I highlighted that a strain gauge sensor on one of the runners of his sleigh detects a crack, this information is sent via the 4G LTE wireless connection to the nearest sleigh maintenance hangar and a new runner is 3D printed so that it can be immediately fitted as soon as Santa arrives at the location of the maintenance hangar. Children simply assume that Santa flies around the world non-stop but there is a very complex maintenance and support infrastructure monitoring his journey around the world. When combined together, IoT, predictive analytics and 3D printing could potentially transform the service support sector. In 2016, I believe 3D Printing will start to see faster adoption across the aftermarket service sector than any other manufacturing sector. 5. Supply Chain Compliance The final area which I think will impact supply chains in 2016 is increased regulatory compliance. Only last week world leaders at the climate talks in Paris agreed a plan to try and limit global warming by 2 degrees for the remainder of this century. This means that the 195 countries that signed up to this initiative will need to introduce tougher carbon emissions regulations and this will force the introduction of greener or more sustainable supply chains. From a supply chain point of view companies can make a significant contribution to the reduction in carbon-based emissions by simply removing paper-based transactions from their global supply chain and logistics networks. I recently posted a blog highlighting the significant benefits that can be obtained by automating manual, paper-based business processes. In 2016, I expect to see a stronger emphasis on supply chain related sustainability programs being introduced to support broader Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Fortunately, Santa has already automated many of the business processes across his operations but there are still pockets of manual-based activities across his global operations that could be automated still further. The SantaNET present ordering portal has been the single biggest contributor to the reduction in paper flowing across Santa’s operation. Not only has it removed tons of paper and envelops from his operations but process automation has also significantly increased the number of ‘perfect present orders’ being distributed to the little children around the world. Santa committed to setting up a sustainability task force in 2016. The final area that I think will impact supply chains in 2016, are the new EU data privacy laws. As many companies are moving ahead and deploying cloud-based business platforms, being able to inform customers of exactly where their data is being hosted is going to almost become a condition of doing business in 2016. An increased focus on data sovereignty will need to be embraced across cloud based information management environments of the future and this presents an interesting challenge for many companies that rely on US hosted cloud vendors. Needless to say that I reassured Santa that OpenText could support the data sovereignty requirements of his global operations, especially as OpenText has data centres located across the major business hubs around the world. In fact at OpenText’s Enterprise World 2014 event we announced the OpenText Cloud Bill of Rights: We will not lose your data, You own your content, We will not spy on you, We will not sell your data, We will not withhold your data and finally you can locate your data where you want it. So, next year is going to be interesting, how many of the predictions that I have made in this blog post will become reality? One thing is for sure, Santa certainly liked what he heard and, as expected, he is already in discussions with his team of elves to implement most of these before the next holiday season arrives! Let me just recap on the supply chain predictions for 2016: Significant growth in the use of analytics-based executive dashboards to help companies make more informed decisions across their supply chain operations Wearable devices will start to be introduced across the enterprise which will offer increased transparency and help to mobilize supply chain operations B2B transactions will be more tightly aligned with business processes and information from IoT connected devices to help support the introduction of more closed loop business processes Subject to regulatory approval, we will start to see drones being used across short distance delivery networks 3D Printing will start to see faster adoption across the aftermarket service sector than any other part of the manufacturing industry Stronger emphasis on supply chain related sustainability programs to support broader Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Increased requirement to adhere to regional data sovereignty procedures & regulations So, that just leaves me to say Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2016!  

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OpenText to Attend Odette 2015 in Munich


It’s that time of year again when the B2B, EDI, and supply chain professionals from across the automotive industry descend on the Odette conference. Odette has received over 300 registrations for this year’s event which is being held on the 30th November and 1st December at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Munich, Germany. I have attended many Odette conferences over the years and I have always found the conference to offer a mix of high quality presentations from automotive industry professionals who can offer real world insights into how they are addressing key B2B and supply chain related challenges across their respective businesses. Over the past 12 months there has been an exponential growth in interest in new disruptive digital technologies and how these will impact the enterprise. It is no surprise therefore that the theme of this year’s Odette conference is Innovative Technologies for an Agile Supply Chain. OpenText will have a presence at the conference this year and we will have a stand (16) in the expo hall where we will be focusing on how: B2B Analytics helps to obtain deeper insights into trading partner performance, allowing more informed business decisions to be made ERP Integration allows externally sourced B2B transactions to flow seamlessly into automotive production systems Mobilizing B2B applications provides a greater level of transparency across the automotive supply chain In addition, I will be presenting in one of the session tracks, the subject of my presentation will be ‘How Digital Disruption will Impact Future Automotive Supply Chains’, on Tuesday 1st December at 09:45 CET. I will be taking delegates on a twenty minute journey through the supply chain related applications for disruptive technologies such as 3D printers, wearable devices and the Internet of Things. I will also briefly discuss the importance of establishing a centralized approach to managing enterprise information so that more informed business decisions can be made. If you are already attending the conference then please visit OpenText on stand 16 where we will be happy to discuss how our B2B and Enterprise Information Management solutions can help to enable the digital world. You can also prebook an appointment to meet with OpenText at the conference. If you have not yet registered for the conference then registration details are available directly from the Odette website. We look forward to seeing you in Munich!

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How Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Enhance Future Business Networks


During my time at OpenText and GXS I have posted a few blog entries relating to disruptive technologies and how they could impact future B2B environments. In July 2007 I posted a blog on how smart mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone could help to mobilize B2B platforms, I followed this blog up with a recent post relating to Apple’s Watch, then there was Google Glass and its role in supporting logistics and maintenance teams across a manufacturing operation. I have even discussed how Augmented Reality could form the basis of a new shipment visibility platform. So continuing the tradition of discussing disruptive technologies, I thought I would take a look at how Microsoft’s HoloLens could potentially transform tomorrow’s Business Network and supply chain environments. In July 1992 I was submitting my Masters degree dissertation on how Virtual Reality (VR) could impact future design offices and here I am today, twenty three years later discussing Augmented Reality and how this could potentially transform tomorrow’s enterprise systems. When I was at Cranfield University there were many research projects being under taken in the areas of 3D printing, or stereolithography as it was known back then, and VR, two technologies that are gaining increasing interest across today’s manufacturing companies. HoloLens, shown below, is slightly different to VR based headsets such as Oculus Rift in that they overlay or augment real world environments with computer graphics, whereas VR headsets tend to be 100% computer graphics based, or fully immersive environments. Image Source: Microsoft HoloLens has been receiving some significant press in recent weeks, showing for example a very cool demonstration based around the Mindcraft game which was overlaid across a table top and the user could interact with the game in true 3D. Another HoloLens demonstration uses the headset as part of a design review process, in partnership with Autodesk’s 3D design solution. This is actually a very similar use case to one that I discussed in my dissertation from 1992. If you haven’t seen the Autodesk based demonstration, take a look at the video below. Video Source: Microsoft Last week Microsoft and Volvo Cars announced that they were working together to introduce HoloLens across various aspects of Volvo’s business. The image below shows how consumers visiting a Volvo dealership could collaboratively use HoloLens to review the latest safety devices associated with one of Volvo’s most recent vehicles. Image Source: Microsoft Now from a supply chain point of view, one of the challenges that companies face today is improving end-to-end visibility of not just shipments but also transactions. Today, there is also a high demand for supply chain or trading partner related analytics, something that OpenText announced earlier this year for our Trading Grid platform. We have over 16 billion transactions flowing across our Trading Grid platform every year, a lot of information that could potentially be mined and put to use by supply chain management teams around the world, but what is the best way to view and analyse this type of transactional based information? Well there are a number of mobile and cloud based solutions available, however in some cases you need to be a supply chain or procurement expert to be able to interpret this EDI based information. EDI based technologies have been around since the early 1970s and it is one of the oldest enterprise technologies in use today, despite many rumours over the years, EDI is not going to go away anytime soon!, in fact we are continuing to see transactions increase in volume on our network, year on year. This is perfectly illustrated by an interview I gave to Automotive Logistics magazine earlier this year. Now could EDI and HoloLens be the perfect marriage of established and emerging enterprise based technologies? How could HoloLens be used across a Business Network? Well I thought I would pull together some thoughts in this blog to try and highlight where I believe HoloLens could be integrated to a Business Network. I will say now that the concepts discussed below, as with my recent Apple Watch post, are my ideas and OpenText is not working on such a project. So the primary goal of HoloLens is to overlay real world environments with interactive and highly graphics intensive augmented environments. Now EDI has never been known as a graphics based environment, so what I want to do here is paint a vision for how trading partner communities and their associated transactions could be viewed, manipulated and analysed within a HoloLens based environment. I would see this as part of a next generation Business Network, one that is more visual in nature than today’s Business Networks and as we start to embrace Big Data and analytics across global supply chains, there will be a growing need to find ways of visualizing and interacting with more and more supply chain information in the future. So let me now discuss a use case for HoloLens in relation to its use across B2B and supply chain management platforms. So we shall start by applying computer graphics to our real world environment, this provides the Augmented Reality experience that HoloLens is built on. In this case I am standing in front of a boardroom table with my HoloLens headset on and I am now ready to interact with a virtual representation of our Trading Grid infrastructure. I will now overlay a white grid onto the boardroom table, this will essentially create a virtual representation of our Trading Grid environment to allow me to be able to review the trading partner community across my supply chain and analyse transactions flowing across it. “Overlay Trading Grid on Conference Table” Next, I will overlay a 3D representation of key participants or trading partners in our supply chain.  On the left hand side we have an internal enterprise showing a 3D representation of an HQ building along with a North American and European based factories.  On the right hand side we can see three key suppliers providing parts to the two factories. “Display Key Trading Partners to US and EMEA Factories” The next stage is to then run a simulation of transactions flowing across the supply chain. In reality this is what happens across our Trading Grid network except the EDI transactions are flowing between mailboxes which represent each trading partner in the community.  The EDI transactions are also in a specific format, in the example below we are reviewing a few ANSI based EDI transactions, the Purchase Order, Invoice and Advance Ship Notice. There are many other transactions used as part of a typical procure-to-pay process but I wanted to use a smaller set here to explain the concept. Within HoloLens you would see the transactions actually moving or animating their way between trading partners, you could instruct HoloLens to show all transactions from a particular day or week or a specific time period when perhaps there was some form of supply chain disruption.  HoloLens could be used in this case to review the historical transaction flows to see how they impacted the supply chain. “Run Transactions from 15th November 2015” Now at any time, I can interact with the 3D models representing the trading partners or select and review the contents of a transaction being processed.  In the example below, merely pointing at a transaction, in this case a purchase order being sent to ‘Supplier 1’, I can review the contents of the purchase order in a more user friendly way, rather than the machine readable format used by EDI platforms. This could help to transform transaction visibility and how users interpret information flowing across our supply chain. “Display Purchase Order to Supplier 1” Now I have only scratched the surface here, as I have highlighted a very simple use case around a trading partner and transaction based scenario, but hopefully you can see the potential of HoloLens in relation to a Business Network.  So far in this blog, I have highlighted one area where HoloLens could enhance future Business Networks, let me briefly discuss a few other areas: Being able to review 3D based visualizations of any form of analytics based information across the virtual model of the supply chain Ability to run ‘what if’ scenarios across the virtual supply chain model, for example if a new plant is opened in China and a company needs to connect new Chinese trading partners to their Business Network, what impact will this have on the volume of B2B transactions?, we could add the trading partners and run the transaction flow simulation in HoloLens It could transform how companies collaborate with their trading partners, for example you could have virtual representations of trading partners in HoloLens and you can discuss the supply chain or a Business Network issue in a shared, collaborative space Support pickers as they navigate their way around huge warehouses, HoloLens could be used to direct the pickers to the exact location in the warehouse where goods could be found It will allow supply chain information to become more pervasive across the enterprise, for example senior executives could take part in supply chain review meetings as the information presented in the HoloLens environment would be easier to access and understand than through a traditional B2B platform HoloLens could be used to link in with other supply chain processes, for example predictive maintenance scenarios where Internet of Things connected devices could be represented in the virtual supply chain environment Extending this further, what if users in the future could integrate two different HoloLens environments together, for example applying some of the information visualization techniques discussed in this blog and integrating to a SAP HANA based HoloLens platform. Looking at how the impact of supply chain changes affect downstream enterprise systems such as ERP, would bring a deeper level of visibility to enterprise information moving across the business HoloLens, in partnership with Internet of Things based technologies, could be used to look at a virtual representation of a warehouse or IoT enabled vending machine for example and inventory levels could be reviewed in real time In addition to reviewing transaction flows in HoloLens you could also review the associated shipments being transported by 3PL providers. It is one thing running a simulation of transaction flows, but being able to watch shipments as they leave their point of manufacture and proceed to their point of delivery across a virtual model of a supply chain with 3D models of lorries, trains, planes and ships presented in HoloLens could be quite powerful I appreciate that some of these ideas may appear conceptual in nature, but disruptive technologies such as Microsoft’s HoloLens potentially takes us a step closer to making these concepts become a reality. ‘HoloLens B2B’, this is exactly the type of technology that could help attract the next generation of young business professionals into the supply chain industry.

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What’s the Status of My Order? – How Mobile Apps Increase Supply Chain Transparency

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I was recently asked to present at the ECR conference in Germany, one of the largest retail/CPG related events focused on B2B and supply chain. Now you may be asking what value I could add to a retail event given my main focus has always been the manufacturing sector, well the subject of the presentation was something close to my heart, mobile B2B, something that I have blogged about on many occasions and most recently via a blog relating to the Apple Watch. I was asked to present a short case study on a web-based application that OpenText built specifically for one of our largest CPG customers. This app would effectively allow this company’s customers to know the exact status of an order on its journey through the order lifecycle. The app was a one-off project, not built on any existing OpenText products, to meet the needs of this customer. I started my presentation on the broader subject of enterprise mobility, so let me just cover some of the more important points. Digital disruption is transforming the enterprise. Business models are moving from buy now to subscription based, moving from software to cloud and services, from one-time transactions to lifetime value and one of the biggest advances is making information available, anytime, anyplace or anywhere. I wanted to try and highlight that one of the main drivers behind enterprise mobility was the consumer and their ability to take their mobile devices into a work environment and connect to enterprise resources such as email, hence the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) effect. The popularity of Apple based devices has been a major contributor to the BYOD effect, interesting really when you consider that Apple hasn’t really positioned their products into the enterprise market, the consumer and their employees have. Gartner’s technology predictions for this year highlighted ‘Computing Everywhere’ as the number one tech trend and there are a number of key drivers for mobile adoption, as can be seen from the CompTIA sourced chart below. In fact, CSC’s CIO study for 2015 showed that the number one IT investment at the moment relates to mobile app development and giving employees access to enterprise resources anytime, anyplace or anywhere. One key statistic from the study showed that 39% of respondents said mobile apps were considered a strategic asset to drive the business forward. So with all this interest in mobilizing enterprise resources, why can’t we use mobile technologies to help answer one of the most common questions from customers, namely “What is the status of my order?” Our Trading Grid environment, the world’s largest cloud based B2B integration platform, processes over 16 billion transactions per year, so given the huge transaction volumes being processed by our B2B network you can understand why companies might want to ‘mine’ this information to provide improved transaction visibility and in this particular case get better insights into order based transactions that may be flowing across our network. Providing clearer insights to transaction status can help to drive more informed decision making as well as improve customer satisfaction levels. This particular project, mentioned earlier in the blog, was to help this CPG company improve order tracking capabilities across their operations in one European country. They process tens of thousands of orders per month from their customers. Their customers (mainly retail stores) expected 24/7 visibility of their order status. however, access to order information was restricted to office hours only. They also wanted to avoid out of stock situations as this drives down customer satisfaction levels. They had two key requirements for their mobile app. Firstly, it had to be simple to deploy and use. Secondly, the mobile app would have to be secure and a role-based approach to viewing order information was deployed so the information presented was dependent on a user’s role in the business. For the adoption of the app to be successful, it had to include a number of key operational criteria, this included being device independent, web browser independent and OS independent, so HTML5 was used to define the user interface. The app had to offer a number of order related features, namely highlighting orders with issues, orders that had been placed, orders in progress, orders that had been shipped and orders that had been invoiced. Push notifications are also offered to manage any issues by exception. The app had a number of key benefits: Customers can check order status regardless of time or location Orders can be checked from the shelf-edge, avoiding the risk of going out of stock Improved visibility has allowed the replenishment process to start earlier Response time for customers is shortened – if an order is delayed/cancelled it’s immediately visible The app is easy to use and allows the user to filter orders by different criteria From a business benefits point of view, the app offered the following: Improved customer satisfaction Full visibility of orders and their status Reduced problem calls to customer service Improved productivity Avoid out of stock situations Protect brand reputation Clearly, this company had good reason to deploy an HTML5 based version for their order tracking app but other companies are deploying IOS and Android mobile apps. When I drafted my Apple Watch blog earlier this year, one of the suggested use cases was around order tracking.  I will stress again that the B2B use cases I discussed for the Apple Watch were purely conceptual in nature but based on the type of ‘transaction based’ visibility requests I had observed from numerous customer meetings that I have attended over the years. This mobile project was a great success for this particular company and it has significantly helped to increase customer satisfaction levels. If you would like to see my full presentation from ECR, then you can access via the SlideShare link below.

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How the OpenText Cloud Develops Greener Supply Chains [Infographic]

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A few weeks ago I posted a couple of blogs which discussed the supply chain related green benefits of using our OpenText Cloud.  I placed a particular emphasis on OpenText Trading Grid, our B2B network and how it was helping thousands of companies around the world to save paper through the automation of their B2B transactions. We have recently completed an Infographic which highlights some of these green related savings and this is shown below. You can also get further insights via my accompanying blog as well as learn more about OpenText Compliance solutions and OpenText Cloud. The calculations in our Infographic below were made using the Paper Savings Calculator from the Environmental Paper Network. This Infographic was compiled by my colleague Janet De Guzman and you can read her latest compliance related blog here.  

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Twenty Good Reasons Why Manufacturers Should Attend Enterprise World This Year

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In my last Enterprise World 2015 related blog I highlighted a number of manufacturing related activities during our conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. You can view the blog here. There are many breakout sessions running during the main part of the conference and below I have listed the top twenty sessions that I thought may be of interest to manufacturing companies. There will be many other sessions during the course of the week, but I thought these may be of interest as they provide a good overview of the product offerings that make up our Enterprise Information Management portfolio. CLD-402 – Building Your Cloud Strategy Featuring Forrester Research ECM-401 – Product Update: OpenText Core – Business-Ready File Sharing & Collaboration in the Cloud INX-401 – Gain Total Supply Chain Visibility With OpenText Active Orders ECM-406 – Product Update: Transform your Organization by Putting the X in ECM INX-404 – Bring B2B to the C-suite: How B2B Integration Accelerates Your Corporate Strategies ALX-100 – Making Sense of Big and Small Data INX-410 – How OpenText and SAP are Joining Forces to Optimize Spend Management EIM-402 – A Day in the Life – Big Data Analytics in the Cloud Implementation INX-411 – Intelligent Capture: Simplify, Transform & Accelerate Your Data Capture Process INX-420 – On Premise B2B & MFT: Consolidate your Integration Strategy to Reap New Benefits SAP-410 – Simplify Asset Management in a Digital World with Customer Case Study ECO-410 – Extended ECM for Oracle E-Business Update – Featuring Customer Dover Corporation INX-412 – Beyond Managed Services: Driving Even Greater Value from B2B Outsourcing ECM-413 – Product Update: OpenText Engineering Document Management-Next Generation Preview ALX-110 – The Future of Embedded Analytics – Wearable Data and Beyond INX-416 – e-Invoicing: the Low-Hanging Fruit of Improving Operating Cost, and Much More ECM-414 – Product Update: What’s New with Brava! for Content Suite INX-418 – Best Practices in Deploying Fax and Secure Messaging Across the Enterprise SAP-416 – MAN Diesel & Turbo’s Enterprise Content & Records Management Solution – A Customer Story INX-400 – Mine your Data for Improved Decision Making: How Analytics Can Transform your Business I also just wanted to take the opportunity to confirm details of a couple of ‘Ted Talk’ style presentations that I will be delivering in the Digital Disruption Zone of the Expo Hall, both of the following sessions will be repeated on Wednesday and Thursday. 14:30 – 14:45 – How the Internet of Things Will Disrupt Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Industry 16:00 – 16:15 – How EIM Helps Manufacturers Transition to a Digital Business In addition to announcing some exciting news around the future direction of our EIM product offerings, numerous customer and keynote presentations we will also have a special guest speaker. None other than Mike Myers – he will certainly be interjecting some humour into the proceedings!

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Did You Know OpenText and SAP Now Run Together to Simplify Trading Partner Connectivity?

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OpenText recently announced an expansion of their partnership with SAP whereby SAP’s customers will now be able to connect to their external trading partner community through OpenText’s Trading Grid® platform, a core component of OpenText’s cloud. SAP has been a key partner of OpenText for many years and this expanded partnership will transform the B2B integration capabilities that SAP can offer to their global customers. Many companies already leverage SAP’s Ariba network to manage ‘indirect’ materials related spend across their business operations. Allowing SAP’s customers to integrate with their external trading partner communities via OpenText B2B Managed Services will allow companies to improve how they manage ‘direct’ materials related spend as well. So running together, SAP and OpenText’s cloud based business networks are complementary to each other. More information on the new partnership is available here. OpenText, through their acquisition of GXS, has been able to offer companies a way to seamlessly integrate their B2B and ERP environments together. OpenText already has some of SAP’s largest customers connected to the Trading Grid infrastructure, and this announcement is a logical next step in bringing our business networks closer together. I have written many blog posts over the past six years to highlight the importance of why companies should be thinking of integrating their ERP and B2B systems together, so I thought it would be useful to recap some of the key discussion points from my earlier blogs in this slightly extended post. Rolling out a new ERP project is typically the number one priority for today’s CIOs. SAP for example provides the backbone infrastructure that drives many internal business processes, whether in the area of HR, expense management, indirect materials spend, managing production processes or transport/warehouse operations. If SAP systems do not receive timely and accurate information from external trading partners then there is a possibility that internal business systems could grind to a halt, which from a production operation point of view can be quite damaging to the overall business operation. In an earlier research study we found that over a third of information that typically enters an ERP environment comes from outside the business. So having a highly available, global B2B platform that provides seamless connectivity to an outside trading partner community is becoming a high priority for today’s CIOs. So when is the best time to think about integrating to ERP? We have found, through many ERP/B2B integration projects that we have successfully completed with OpenText’s B2B Managed Services , that companies should think about B2B integration whenever they are undertaking a major ERP initiative. We have found there are four main ERP initiatives that can help drive new B2B integration projects: implementing new ERP platforms, for example switching from Oracle to SAP, consolidating numerous ERP instances onto a single platform, upgrading legacy ERP instances which could involve moving to a cloud based ERP environment and finally extending an existing ERP platform with new capabilities. If we take the example of a new SAP project, as I said this will be the number one project on the ‘to-do’ list of a CIO. The CIO will be under pressure from various stakeholders across the business to meet a specific go live date and this could mean that the CIO will have to pull in as many IT resources as possible to ensure the SAP go live date is met. But what happens to other IT projects such as deploying a new B2B environment or onboarding new trading partners in a remote location if there are no internal B2B resources available? Well put bluntly these other projects could potentially grind to a halt. So how can the CIO meet a go live date without compromising other initiatives such as managing a B2B network? The easiest way is to utilize external B2B resources to manage the B2B project whilst the CIO focuses on his main or core activity of meeting their SAP go live date. So where do these additional B2B resources come from?, well put simply this is where OpenText B2B Managed Services comes in. In fact we are often referred to as an extension to a CIO’s IT team. For over twenty years, OpenText has been working on many SAP related B2B integration projects, both single instance and multiple instance, to support global business operations. Multi-National companies in industries such as high tech, automotive, consumer goods, manufacturing and financial services utilize OpenText B2B Managed Services to maximize their SAP investment. OpenText B2B Managed Services, shown by the above diagram, helps companies improve the management of their SAP/B2B integration projects in a number of different ways: Global Systems Management – Ensuring that external trading partner connectivity is highly available, this is critical to the smooth running of an integrated SAP/B2B environment. If external connectivity is lost for any reason, this will interrupt the flow of information entering an SAP environment and any downstream business systems. OpenText Managed Services environment runs across a highly available infrastructure with multiple data centres located in North America and Europe. Data is replicated between data centers on a regular basis and in the event of a catastrophic failure in one data centre, the infrastructure will fail across to the other data center thus maintaining availability of a B2B environment. Visibility, Alerting and Analytics – OpenText provides business process visibility and exception-based monitoring for a business and its customers. Visibility is delivered through a simple web based interface that provides tools such as related document queries, role based views and proactive monitoring/alerting capabilities. For example, upon completion of the translation process, OpenText Managed Services will automatically generate a STATUS IDOC (Status = 5 or 6) back to the client’s SAP environment to indicate whether the IDOC translation failed or succeeded. Recently introduced analytics capabilities help to improve visibility and reporting capabilities still further SAP Connectivity – B2B integration platforms must be connected to the numerous different instances of SAP running at local manufacturing plants, retail stores, shared service centers and headquarters locations. OpenText supports a broad range of communications protocols to connect with SAP including ALE, AS2, PI and FTP. You can use a combination of communication technologies to meet all your trading partner requirements. The most popular option for exchanging IDOCs is the native SAP Application Link Enabling (ALE) technology. Data & Process Intelligence – Ideally, SAP systems can only operate efficiently and offer maximum ROI when they are fed with clean and accurate information. OpenText uses a robust business rules engine based on over 150 of the most common supply chain-related SAP business rules. OpenText ensures that all externally sourced information is clean and accurate before entering SAP, this eliminates the need for investigating data mismatches, reprocessing inaccurate data, or calling trading partners to resolve data quality issues. This pre-processing of externally sourced information before it enters an SAP system effectively places an ‘ERP firewall’ around SAP applications. The aim of the firewall is to protect an SAP system from poor quality data sent in by customers, suppliers, distributors, logistics providers or financial institutions. Mapping & Translation – Document mapping is one of the most complex tasks to undertake during an SAP to B2B integration project. Mapping experts must understand the relationships between data structures used by external trading partners and the information needed in SAP. For example, a mapping expert may need to extract shipping information from an advanced shipping notice to populate the appropriate SHPMNT01 IDOC document. With the possibility of having to create hundreds of maps, ensuring that maps can be created on schedule is one of the most important aspects of an integration project. Creating these maps internally is not a very efficient use of expensive IT resources. Delegating the mapping process to a third party vendor would be beneficial for any company undertaking such an integration project. OpenTextenables a company to integrate B2B messaging across multiple instances of SAP and with trading partners around the world. Partner Onboarding – Most SAP projects are not purely technical in nature, functionality upgrades are usually the justification for investment. With new modules or expanded user-communities comes the need to connect to a broader range of supply chain partners. With larger companies having globalized their operations, the on-boarding and integration of trading partners across different time zones can be difficult to manage. In many cases, companies simply do not have the resources to manage the on-boarding of trading partners in different geographical regions. OpenText Managed Services provides a comprehensive on-boarding service to both recruit and enable your trading partners including web forms and Microsoft Excel based adapters. Program Management – SAP projects require an immense amount of co-ordination across the extended enterprise. B2B integration managers must ensure that maps are created correctly, trading partners are connected properly and data validation rules are reflected within the B2B system as well. If companies are looking to introduce further SAP functionality, for example implementing a transport management system, then the project management challenge becomes even more complex. OpenText B2B Managed Services allows a company to leverage highly-experienced project managers to manage the implementation process. OpenText will provide a dedicated program manager who will undertake a number of roles to ensure that SAP to B2B integration projects go as smoothly as possible. Their role will include looking after the day to day communication with a community of trading partners and ensuring that trading partners can support new transaction types, data quality rules or KPIs to measure performance. Finally, they also offer support for testing and looking after the overall release and deployment of the newly integrated platform with the customer. Providing Global Support – Many companies have globalized their operations and have manufacturing plants and trading partners around the world. As a result, all users of an SAP/B2B integration platform must have access to a global support infrastructure so that if any problems arise they can be resolved as quickly as possible. OpenText B2B Managed Services provides 24/7, multi-lingual, support coverage. This helps users across an extended enterprise receive the help they need, in any language or any time zone around the world. With many companies establishing manufacturing operations in low cost countries such as China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to support trading partners within these particular regions of the world. Implementing an outsourced approach to managing the integration between SAP and a B2B platform will help to ensure that your business realises even greater levels of return on your investment. Cloud, mobile and SAP HANA may provide a good incentive to upgrade and consolidate SAP instances but integrating seamlessly to a trading partner community should also be high on a CIO’s agenda. Therefore I think it is fairly safe to say that without B2B integration to outside trading partners, an ERP environment could be considered ‘incomplete’, OpenText B2B Managed Services helps to ‘complete ERP’.

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Enterprise World to Showcase Disruptive Technologies Impacting the Digital World


It’s that time of year again, lots of preparation for our main customer conference of the year, Enterprise World 2015. This year our event is being hosted at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where normally the phrase ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ applies!, however we would like our customers to learn and take away as much information as possible on how OpenText can help create winning strategies for their digital business. I have been to Las Vegas before, in fact in 2008 as part of a US West Coast honeymoon trip and we ended up taking a helicopter flight over the MGM Grand enroute to the Grand Canyon. Las Vegas is not just a great entertainment destination, many technology focused conferences are held in the city every year. Many companies today feel as though they are gambling away their IT budgets on digital projects that give minimal returns. This is compounded by all the digital disruption that is taking place from new technologies such as the Internet of Things, wearable devices, 3D printers and drones etc. Many years ago, CIOs were struggling to deploy complex ERP environments to support their business operations, today disruptive technologies combined with cloud, mobile and big data solutions make their job even tougher. Enterprise World provides companies with an opportunity to learn and understand more about how our Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions can help define and support a world leading digital transformation strategy to support a business. Last year was my first opportunity to attend Enterprise World and the customers that I was hosting during the event said it was one of the most worthwhile conferences they had attended in years. Enterprise World provides the ideal environment to learn how our solutions help companies to manage unstructured information, define and manage business processes, improve the customer experience and help companies to connect with each other and securely exchange digital information. One of the key focus areas at Enterprise World is the Expo Hall where all of OpenText’s solutions can be seen in action so to speak. One key addition this year will be the Digital Disruption Zone, a small part of the expo hall where our customers will be able to see how disruptive technologies can be embraced across their digital environments. So for example we will have live demonstrations exploring how big data analytics can be accessed and represented on a wearable device, how the Internet of Things provides real time tracking of people moving around the Enterprise World conference and how an enterprise content management solution provides a central hub for accessing digital files that can be sent to a 3D printer. I have spent some considerable time discussing disruptive technologies over the past 18 months or so and it will be great to show our customers how OpenText can work with these technologies. In addition we will have a Ted Talk style presentation theatre within the Digital Disruption Zone. Now this should be interesting as I will be presenting in the Ted Talk theatre, one presentation on disruptive technologies and another on how EIM supports today’s manufacturing industry. There will be many other presentations from OpenText’s industry team but as with any Ted Talk presentation, they will be kept short, no more than 15 minutes, and will be informative. I will record my Ted Talk sessions and post online after the conference for those that are not able to make it in person. In addition to the Ted Talk sessions there are a number of other ways that you can interact with the industry team here at OpenText during the event. We will have a dedicated area set aside in the breakfast room every morning of the conference, so if you would like to meet with your industry peers then this is a great way to start your day. We will also be hosting a number of industry workshops on the Friday morning. This will provide a chance to further network with industry peers, learn about key trends in the industry and how OpenText are embracing these trends and hear from companies on how they have deployed OpenText solutions. I, and my fellow industry colleagues, will be at the conference all week so please try and connect with us if you can. Needless to say I will be tweeting extensively during the week and feel free to follow me @markmorley. As well as the Expo Hall there will be some exciting presentations in the main conference room and if the room is anything like last year’s venue, it will be standing room only! If you haven’t registered for the event yet, there is still time, please click here and the link will take you to our dedicated conference landing page. Look forward to seeing you in Vegas.  

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ARC Advisory Group Discusses How Enterprise Information ManagementSupports the Digital Manufacturing Business

Over the past 12 months I have posted a few articles discussing how Enterprise Information Management (EIM) supports today’s manufacturing business. During this same period, manufacturers have had to embrace various forms of digital disruption, from technologies such as wearable devices, 3D printers and the Internet of Things. In addition to these new technologies, today’s CIOs need to embrace new types of network infrastructure, new devices connected to these networks and new forms of digital information coming off of these devices. These technologies are not only transforming the manufacturing industry but more importantly they are transforming how we manage, share and utilize digital information across the manufacturing enterprise. Deploying an effective EIM strategy should be at the heart of any manufacturing operation, especially as digital information is required to support a product from ‘cradle to grave’. This end-to-end approach to managing enterprise information can provide a strong competitive advantage in the market as well as significantly improve customer satisfaction levels. In order to see exactly how digital information supports today’s manufacturing process, OpenText commissioned the ARC Advisory Group to write a white paper looking at how manufacturers should be leveraging an EIM strategy to manage digital information flowing across a manufacturing enterprise. Manufacturing a product, whether a car, television or aircraft, consists of many sequential processes and rather than trying to boil the ocean in terms of how information is managed at every step of a manufacturing process, I asked ARC to focus on five of the more important steps. These steps are highlighted in orange on the diagram below and are found in nearly every manufacturing sub-sector. ARC provides a strong argument as to why EIM is important for supporting today’s connected manufacturing business and it also provides a firm foundation for embracing new disruptive technologies in the future. The white paper is available to download from the resources area of our manufacturing page on our website, or you can download directly by clicking here. Over the next few weeks I will be finalizing a solution brochure to expand on each of the five areas highlighted in the ARC paper, but until then please feel free to download this new white paper from the link shown above.

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How IoT Based Analytics Will Drive Future Supply Chain Operations


Over the past couple of years we have seen an exponential growth in interest around the Internet of Things (IoT). My interest in this space started at Cisco’s IoT World Forum in Barcelona in late 2013.  Back then many of the software and solution vendors were just starting to define their IoT strategies due to the various estimates that analysts had put out about the expected value of the IoT market over the next decade. There were two interesting IoT related announcements this week, firstly GE placing all their IT and software solutions into a new division called GE Digital. Slight irony here in that this is the second time GE has done this, the first time was when they established and then spun off their former IT division which later became GXS!  The second announcement came yesterday at Salesforce’s annual conference where they announced their own cloud based IoT platform.  So the IoT cloud market is certainly hotting up. In 2013 I posted my first blog discussing where I believed IoT would impact supply chain operations and from what I could tell back then, based on the number of IoT and Supply Chain articles that had been published, I was one of the early thought leaders to predict how IoT would transform tomorrow’s supply chains. Many argue that some components of an IoT environment, such as RFID tags, have been around for many years and in fact IoT has now given RFID tags a stronger sense of purpose.  However other technologies such as Big Data Analytics are really only just starting to be applied in the supply chain space. For me, I see three areas where IoT will add value to supply chain operations, I call these the ‘Three Ps’ of supply chain focused IoT, namely Pervasive Visibility, Proactive Replenishment and Predictive  Maintenance. One common aspect to all three of the above scenarios is big data analytics.  Earlier this year OpenText acquired a leading provider of embedded analytics solutions, Actuate.  Over the past few months we have been busy embracing the world of big data analytics and recently announced a cloud based analytics offering. This is quite a game changer in the big data analytics market as companies look to take their first steps into the world of analytics and OpenText Big Data Analytics in the cloud allows companies to scale their analytics platform over time and align with the size of the analytics project being undertaken. In fact yesterday, OpenText was ranked number three in a new report from the analyst firm called Dresner Advisory Services, they looked at the Business Intelligence market in the context of IoT. It is worth noting that the chart and vendor analysis conducted by Dresner was carried out before the launch of our cloud based analytics solution, so we would probably have been ranked higher than number three out of seventeen vendors.  When you consider the size of the analytics market and the number of vendors in the space, this is quite an achievement for our solution and it puts us in a good position for companies looking to process the huge volumes of data coming off millions of connected devices in the future. OpenText Big Data Analytics is a core component of OpenText’s cloud strategy and early last year OpenText acquired another key cloud solution provider GXS.  OpenText now operates the world’s largest B2B integration network with over 600,000 companies connected to the network and these companies are processing over 16billion transactions per year.  Now wait a minute, 16billion transactions!, now that is a lot of information flowing across our network that could add a lot of value to companies if they had a way of analysing the transactions in real time. As you would imagine we are busy looking at how our Trading Grid platform could leverage the capabilities of our new cloud based analytics solution. I have spent the past two years keeping a close eye on the IoT market and it is great to think that our cloud based analytics solution provides a stepping stone into the ever growing IoT market.  But what happens when you bring the world of IoT and supply chains together?  I wanted to use the following diagram to explain how OpenText Analytics and Trading Grid could in the near future provide support for the three supply chain scenarios that I mentioned earlier, namely pervasive visibility, proactive replenishment and predictive maintenance. The diagram below illustrates a desktop demonstration of how consumption trends from a connected device can help to initiate a ‘purchase to pay’ process.  When I say purchase to pay I am talking about an order being created, goods being delivered and then payment made to the supplier.  Let me now break this diagram down into a few key steps. The first stage is the connected device itself, now it could be any type of connected device, but for this example I have chosen a WiFi enabled coffee machine. In addition, for the purposes of this demonstration, a connected coffee capsule dispenser, so as you remove a capsule this will be recognized by a proximity sensor placed underneath the capsule. The second stage is to then capture the consumption trends from the coffee machine.  So as each capsule is taken from the dispenser, a signal would be sent to OpenText Analytics which will essentially be used in this case to monitor consumption patterns and overtime trend related information and graphs etc can be displayed. The key step in this process is when OpenText Analytics detects that a certain number of capsules have been used and an order can be placed via Trading Grid for replacement capsules to be delivered from an outside supplier. This in essence is Proactive Replenishment, where analytics data is driving the ordering process. Back in January this year I contributed towards an article on that discussed how in the future connected devices would potentially be able to initiate their own procurement process.  Thus taking manual ordering of replacement goods out of the supply chain process.  Now we are some way off achieving this at the moment but the IoT industry is heading in this direction. For now though a trigger from OpenText Analytics would alert a user to create a Purchase Order for ordering replacement coffee capsules. This ordering process would be initiated through one of our SaaS applications on Trading Grid and this application, Active Orders would also monitor the end to end life cycle of the order.  Mobile access to the progress of the order from the supplier to point of delivery would be available via a mobile app. The order for the capsules is received by the supplier, represented below by a robot arm, which selects the replacement capsules from a rotary capsule dispenser and then loads them on transport provided by the 3PL carrier. Now over time sensors on the robot arm would detect any potential failures with its operation.  From a maintenance point of view, the operational information coming from the sensors on the robot arm would be fed into our analytics platform and overtime you would be able to predict when a part of the robot is likely to fail.  In the real world you would then initiate a repair before the robot fails and hence your supply chain operations are not interrupted in anyway.  This is a perfect example, albeit scaled down of how IoT can drive Predictive Maintenance procedures.  In fact predictive maintenance is widely regarded as one of the most important industrial applications for IoT at this moment in time. For the purposes of this example the 3PL carrier is operating a model train!, which will carry the capsules to coffee machine on the other side of the table.  The location of the train would be monitored via an RFID tag attached to the train. The potential for improving end to end supply chain visibility using IoT and connected 3PL providers is huge and Cisco and DHL recently released a white paper discussing this opportunity. The RFID tags in this case are being used for the purposes of this demonstration but in real life a combination of RFID tags and GPS devices would be used to track the shipments. The ability to connect every piece of supply chain equipment, whether fork lift truck, lorry and pallets etc will transform supply chain visibility and will contribute towards the Pervasive Visibility across an end to end supply chain. So there you have it, a very simple example of how IoT could impact future supply chains.  The IoT market is moving incredibly quickly and who knows what new technology will be introduced over the coming years, but one thing is for sure OpenText can now provide two key components of the IoT enabled supply chain, OpenText Big Data Analytics and OpenText Trading Grid.  The world of B2B integration just got exciting If you are looking for a gentle introduction to the world of IoT then take a look at this short video that I recorded, just click on the image below. This blog was posted by Mark Morley

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Will Apple’s Watch Transform How Companies Interact With Their Supply Chains?


If there was one company that has contributed the most towards mobilizing today’s enterprise, from a smart device point of view, I would have to say it is Apple. Interestingly Apple has been able to achieve this with hardly any dollars being spent on enterprise marketing activities, instead, the trend of allowing employees to connect their own devices to corporate resources has allowed Apple to effectively own the Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, market. BYOD has transformed how employees engage with corporate resources and it has also driven the need, in Apple’s case, for the development of IOS specific apps to integrate to back office enterprise applications. Shortly after the original Apple iPhone was launched in 2007 I posted a blog discussing how I thought the iPhone would transform how companies interact with trading partners across a supply chain. Wind the clock forward eight years, no pun intended, and here we are again with yet another device that is set to transform mobile communications, Apple’s Watch. The Apple Watch has received mixed reviews from, consumers, enterprises and analysts and yet the sheer groundswell of companies developing apps for the Apple Watch will certainly make it a success in the near future. For example one of the biggest uses for the Apple Watch will be utilising NFC payments through Apple Pay. A nalysts are already making predictions for the technical specifications of Apple Watch 2 and so enters yet another Apple product that will get consumers excited every year when a new version of the Apple Watch appears. I cannot think of any other high tech brand that has been able to build such an expectation for each product launch. From a wearable device point of view, if last year was the year of Google Glass then 2015 will be remembered as the year of the Apple Watch, a device that is going to be receiving the full muscle of Apple’s marketing department to make it a global success. So given everyone is currently trying to define enterprise level use cases for how the Apple Watch will add value to a business, I thought I would wade in with my own ideas, from a supply chain point of view. I thought it would be interesting to highlight where I believe the Apple Watch could potentially play a part in interacting with B2B platforms and trading partner communities. I will stress that the ideas discussed in this article are mine alone and not the opinions of my company OpenText and we currently do not have an Apple Watch project of this nature being developed, but in the future who knows? So in the future it may be possible to access our Enterprise Information Management (EIM) suite of solutions, albeit in a very simplified capacity through a wearable device such as the Apple Watch. For arguments sake I will call this ‘myEIM’ to imply that these solutions are being accessed via a wearable device. The icons shown on the screen below represent the key EIM solutions that OpenText offers today, the latest one, through our recent acquisition of Actuate, (highlighted for the purposes of this article by the red icon), is related to analytics. From the main screen I will choose the icon representing the Information Exchange (IX) suite, shown in green, you can see that all other icons are hidden to leave just the one that I am interested in viewing. When you select the IX icon you are then taken to the ‘my IX’ suite of tools that relate to B2B and supply chain management. You will notice a number of options from the my IX menu shown below. Let’s briefly review each one in turn.   One of the challenges faced by procurement or purchasing teams is having real time access to contact information relating to every trading partner across their supply chain. Using information pulled from the central B2B platform it will not only display key contact information but also key information relating to a trading partner’s B2B connectivity. For example how many transactions do they process and which communication protocols do they use. This may seem like really basic information to capture, but when you have a trading partner community of 5000 suppliers, the ability to quickly search through trading partner contacts becomes very important. Once you have found your trading partner contact you may want to initiate a chat session with them to help address a specific issue. If I had responsibility for managing a trading partner community of 5000 suppliers then I would like the ability to be able to communicate or broadcast to the entire trading partner community through a simple to use chat tool such as this. The concept here is no different to Apple’s iMessage utility for sending short SMS type messages. OpenText recently announced the launch of Trading Grid Analytics to allow companies to monitor all transactions flowing across our B2B Trading Grid infrastructure. (For the record we process 16 billion transactions across our B2B network each year). But what if you could review these analytics results on an Apple Watch? OK so the presentation of the analytics based information would need to be highly simplified to make it usable on the Apple Watch but it provides a great way of monitoring key analytics such as transactions by trading partner or transactions by document type etc. The next area where the Apple Watch could be of value, for the purposes of this article at least, is in the area of tracking orders. Knowing the status of purchase orders as they go through the approval process and then being able to track by orders shipped, perhaps by customer location, is incredibly valuable to a company. Any exceptions or errors with an order can be immediately highlighted within the app and the user would be notified of a potential problem by simply vibrating the Apple Watch on the user’s wrist. Colour coding of information based on specific criteria or threshold values provides immediate feedback to the user. A clear benefit of a wearable device such as the Apple Watch is having access to a suite of highly graphical apps. For example simply overlaying shipping/distribution information over a standard map application such as Google Maps helps to give a visual location of shipments and Apple Watch could vibrate as and when a shipment reaches its destination. Clearly you may not want the watch to vibrate for every shipment delivered to a customer, but for high value goods such as cars it could help to ‘enhance’ the logistics management experience.   One of the challenges faced by suppliers is ensuring that their customers receive their Advanced Ship Notices (ASNs) on time or within the specific delivery window, for example 15 minutes. Many automotive OEMs rate their key suppliers on their ability to deliver ASNs efficiently as they are critical to the smooth running of Just in Time production systems. In this case you could potentially use the iWatch to highlight when ASNs do not get through to the required destination. The watch would vibrate to highlight a potential problem and then offer options to address the issue, perhaps launching an alternative delivery method for the ASNs. The key thing here is that you have been notified in real time of a potential problem with an ASN and you can take immediate action to rectify the situation before it impacts your customer’s business. So just a few ideas to get the ball rolling but like all forms of new technology I think it will be a while yet before enterprise IT teams start to fully embrace the power of the Apple Watch.

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Five Reasons Why Cloud B2B Platforms Contribute Towards Greener Supply Chains


In my last blog, available HERE, I discussed how B2B automation contributed towards developing greener supply chains. I also explained how our cloud based Trading Grid platform was connected to over 600,000 businesses who collectively exchange over 16 Billion transactions per year around the world. In this article I thought I would take a slightly different look at how cloud based B2B environments contribute towards developing greener supply chains. Today’s CIOs are accelerating their deployment of cloud based environments as they offer many operational benefits for companies. For example introducing improved infrastructure flexibility to react to market demands, simplifying the management of global business applications and of course providing improved predictability of long term fixed costs for managing applications. Here is a short video introducing OpenText’s cloud. However as well as these operational benefits, there are a number of green related benefits that are probably not appreciated when a company decides to deploy a cloud based infrastructure.  Companies today have a choice of running on premise, hybrid or full cloud solutions however for the purposes of this blog I will discuss green benefits relating to full cloud based environments.  When companies deploy a full cloud solution they will obtain some significant indirect green benefits: 1. Reduction in paper usage due to the automation of manual based business transactions – Many companies have struggled to encourage all their trading partners, especially those in emerging markets, to exchange information electronically. Instead, many smaller suppliers still use manual paper based processes. For example in China the fax is still seen as one of the main business related communication methods. Also, there are various systems for exchanging shipping related documentation between logistics carriers and across customs and border control agencies. The very nature of cloud based environments means that they are quick to deploy, easy to use and simple to maintain on a daily basis, in other words ideal for use in the emerging markets and help to ensure you can achieve 100% trading partner enablement. The use of web based forms to replicate paper based form content means that even the smallest or least technically capable trading partner can simply enter or view information directly via a web based portal environment. Paper based versions of web forms can still be printed off if required, but in a cloud environment this is more of an on-demand process. Once information is entered via web based forms it automatically gets fed into some form of Software-as-a-Services application hosted within the cloud environment. 2. Lower power consumption requirements due to retiring legacy server and network hardware – This is one of the most important green related benefits that a company can realize by adopting a cloud based B2B infrastructure. Many companies around the world have spent millions of dollars establishing their own in-house data centres or server based infrastructures. From  investing in highly available power supply infrastructures with uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with diesel generator backups, extensive lighting infrastructures, through to implementing complex networking and air conditioning systems.  When you combine all of these data centre infrastructure related assets together they contribute significantly towards a company’s overall carbon footprint. 3. Less data centre related equipment packaging to dispose of – In-house data centres require numerous servers, storage devices, networking equipment etc and these typically arrive from the IT suppliers in large, over packed boxes containing cardboard, wood, plastic and polystyrene.  Once these pieces of equipment have been delivered, the packaging needs to be disposed of carefully or recycled but some could end up as landfill.  In addition, depending on where your data centre equipment would traditionally be sourced from, the associated 3PL & transportation companys’ carbon footprint would also be considerably reduced. 4. Minimizes travel requirements for IT implementation resources – Many companies have established global IT teams to support their business operations.  However in some cases there may be a need to extend an IT infrastructure into an emerging market such as China or India.  In most cases companies will struggle to secure local resources to both implement and maintain a regional data centre and IT staff from other regions will be flown in at great expense to ensure a new IT infrastructure is up and running as soon as possible. Over the years companies have got use to flying IT staff around the world to support their remote operations, but how many companies have actually calculated the volume of greenhouse gases that have been created travelling to these locations and having data centre related hardware delivered by 3PL providers? 5. Encourages enterprise adoption of low powered mobile devices – The exponential growth in the adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones, combined with the development of mobile apps to get access to cloud based enterprise resources has helped to reduce the power consumption requirements across the internal and external enterprise.  Up until a few years ago, enterprise resources were accessed through power hungry laptop and desktop PCs.  The introduction of simple to use mobile apps has helped to extend the battery life of devices such as Apple’s iPad. These devices have also transformed how employees work remotely and whilst on the move, ie less battery recharging required.  Another benefit of offering mobile access to cloud based resources is that information is available anytime, anyplace and anywhere so for example logistics carriers can process shipping information in a shorter time, minimizing border control related delays and thus ensuring that shipments reach their destination in a much shorter period of time. If you would like to find out more about OpenText’s Cloud then please click HERE.

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How B2B Automation Helps to Develop Greener Supply Chains


Developing a greener and more sustainable supply chain has been on the agenda of CEOs for many years and in fact just looking back through my archive of blogs that I have written over the years, the first green related blog that I wrote was in 2007. This was at a time when companies were being made to think more carefully about how they design their supply chains to help reduce carbon emissions. Back then, our company issued supply chain sustainability assessments to demonstrate how much greener a business would become by automating their manual B2B transactions by sending them electronically across our global B2B network, Trading Grid. Even though sustainability has pretty much become engrained within every CEO’s corporate agenda now, I just thought it would be useful to remind you of the benefits of B2B automation. Using a very smart website developed by the Environmental Paper Network, a coalition of over 100 non-profit organizations working towards the sustainable production and consumption of pulp and paper, it is possible to calculate the environmental savings that can be made by removing paper based transactions from a business. Each transaction would use the same size piece of paper, ie an invoice, purchase order etc and each electronic transaction equates to 2 pieces of paper. Rather than having an exhaustive maths lesson on how I derived the figures below, I have merely highlighted the key figures for each of the two scenarios, but I can provide evidence of my calculations if you need it Scenario 1 – a manufacturing company currently processes 1 million invoices per year across their European based supply chain. Using the criteria above, this then equates to a total paper weight of 9 metric tons or the equivalent of 228 trees. Now by automating these 1 million paper based transactions via a B2B network such as Trading Grid, it will provide the following reduction in the company’s impact on the environment. Reduction in Net Energy Used The Paper Calculator includes an energy credit for energy that is created by burning paper – or the methane that decomposing paper creates – at the end of its life. The Net Energy takes the total amount of energy required to make the paper over its life cycle, and subtracts this energy credit. If most of the energy used to make the paper is purchased, then the energy credit might make the Net Energy lower than the Purchased Energy. The average U.S. household uses 91 million BTUs of energy in a year. – Scenario 1 saves 375 million BTU’s, the equivalent of about 4 homes/year Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels and methane from paper decomposing in landfills, contribute to climate change by trapping energy from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere. The unit of measure is CO2 equivalents. The average car emits 11,013 pounds of CO2 in a year. – Scenario 1 saves 55,877 pounds CO2 equiv., the equivalent of about 5 cars/year Reduction in Water Consumption Water Consumption measures the amount of process and cooling water that is consumed or degraded throughout the life cycle of the paper product. The largest components of water consumption come from the production of purchased electricity, and the use of process and cooling water at pulp and paper mills. Water volume indicates both the amount of fresh water needed and the potential impact of discharges on the receiving waters. 1 Olympic-sized swimming pool holds 660,430 gallons. – Scenario 1 saves 186,117 gallons, the equivalent of < 1 swimming pool Reduction in Solid Waste Includes sludge and other wastes generated during pulp and paper manufacturing and used paper disposed of in landfills and incinerators. 1 fully loaded garbage truck weighs an average 28,000 pounds (based on a rear-loader residential garbage truck) – Scenario 1 saves 22,215 pounds, the equivalent of < 1 garbage truck/year Scenario 2 – OpenText Trading Grid, the world’s largest cloud based B2B network, connects over 600,000 businesses and processes over 16 billion transactions per year. So assuming we are removing the equivalent number of pieces of paper from a supply chain this would equate to a total paper weight saving of 145,151 metric tons or the equivalent of 3,647,010 trees per year. I think you will agree these numbers are quite astounding, but let’s look at the environmental impact for the equivalent paper based transactions: Reduction in Net Energy Used – Scenario 2 saves 6,008,526 million BTU’s, the equivalent of about 66,022 homes/year Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Scenario 2 saves 894,034,654 pounds CO2 equiv., the equivalent of about 81,175 cars/year Reduction in Water Consumption – Scenario 2 saves 2,997,875,351 gallons, the equivalent of about 4,511 swimming pools Reduction in Solid Waste – Scenario 2 saves 355,449,950 pounds, the equivalent of about 12,701 >garbage trucks/year So as you can see, the numbers speak for themselves, automating supply chain based transactions can help your business to develop a greener and more sustainable supply chain. In my next blog I will discuss how moving from software to a cloud based B2B environment can help to develop greener supply chains.

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How the Internet of Things will Enable the Digital-First World


Unless you have been living in a remote cave for the past two years, you will have noticed that the Internet of Things is now on the top of every CIO’s agenda. When I posted my first blog on the IoT in 2013, IoT had relatively low media coverage and then boom, it has become the must have IT strategy of the decade. Today, it is very easy to get lost in the digital disruption being caused by the IoT, so I thought it would be useful to just go back to basics for a few minutes and highlight some of the features and supply chain related applications for the IoT. Last December I visited our TV studio at OpenText’s HQ in Waterloo Canada and recorded two videos for our OTTV Digital-First World video series. The first video in my Digital-First World series for manufacturingdiscussed how the manufacturing industry has been moving towards the Digital-First World and I thought it would be very relevant to follow this video with my second one which focusses on IoT. Click Here to watch my latest video. A day doesn’t go by when a press release goes out promoting another IoT related project somewhere around the world and it can be quite easy to misunderstand what the IoT is all about. Hence the reason for producing this relatively short video. I have to say that I do find it amazing how IoT has managed to capture the imagination of businesses around the world, more so than some of the other technology trends in recent years. One thing is for sure, the IoT is here to stay! Key to the success of the IoT is finding applications for how it can be embraced by businesses across different industry sectors. Recent reports highlight two industries where IoT has gained most traction, Manufacturing and Utilities. From a supply chain point of view, I certainly believe that the IoT will fundamentally change how supply chains operate. I have written a few blogs now on the subject of the IoT and I will be posting more IoT related materials during the course of this year. Please feel free to click on any of the above images to launch the video. I recently made another trip to our TV studio and I recorded two further videos. I will be sure to let you know when these get published to our website! In the meantime if you would like to view any of our other videos then please take a look at the dedicated area of our website,

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How Today’s Engineers are Embracing a Virtualized Digital First World

In today’s digital first world, companies face a continuous challenge to ensure that mission critical business information can be accessed anytime, anyplace or anywhere. In order to access digital information, IT infrastructures must cater for a variety of computing platforms with varying levels of performance, mobility and graphics capabilities. In an earlier blog article I discussed how the distribution of digital information has slowly become more pervasive across the manufacturing business. I highlighted how traditionally the design department of a manufacturing company was seen as the early adopter of new technologies. Design based information is typically large in file size and is graphically intensive with real-time rendering being required to visualize 3D product related designs. This presents a challenge when trying to view large 3D CAD models across different hardware platforms. Over the years, as technology has advanced, more and more departments have been able to access digital information in different ways and this has introduced a number of challenges: Ensuring the security of information so as to avoid unexpected security leaks Providing a way to adhere to regional data sovereignty laws so that information can be retained in-country or in-region Deciding whether digital information should reside on a behind-the-firewall server infrastructure which is only accessible via a VPN connection or hosted in a cloud-based infrastructure for greater accessibility Driving a balance between application performance and IT infrastructure costs to ensure that applications are available 24/7 and the business is not impacted due to a network outage or slow connectivity to remote users of network resources Making certain that engineering-based users, irrespective of location, have access to design-based applications and there is no lag in performance of the applications used, especially when manipulating complex 3D graphics When I started working for one of the leading CAD/CAM software vendors in the early 1990s, all design-based applications were hosted on UNIX workstations, at that time a mix of Silicon Graphics, DEC Digital, HP, Sun Microsystems and IBM machines. Fortunately my company had very good relationships with the hardware vendors and we were able to get the latest workstations for demonstration purposes. Our 3D graphics based applications at that time were ideal for showing off the performance of the UNIX workstations. However from a customer point of view, these workstations were very expensive and unless you were the size of company such as Ford, Boeing or Caterpillar, then it was difficult to get access to sensibly specified UNIX workstations for running CAD/CAM applications. Over the last twenty years, PC-based workstation technology began to improve exponentially and some of the larger discrete manufacturers started to make the shift towards PC-based hardware solutions; and this had a knock on effect with the UNIX market. Coming from the EDI side of OpenText’s business, I know the importance of some of the more ‘mature’ technologies. Companies will not stop using EDI and other mature technologies because they offer benefits that no other technology can offer in the market and the same can be said of UNIX workstations. Over the years I have seen a split in the market. Automotive, aerospace and heavy industrial companies have been using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions from PTC, Dassault and Siemens and are today running these applications on highly specified PC-based platforms. However in the high tech and energy sectors, particularly oil and gas, there is still a very heavy dependence on using UNIX-based workstations, especially in a virtualized environment. But why is there a difference in UNIX versus PC usage between these different industries? Typically in the automotive, aerospace and industrial sectors, manufacturers will produce complex 3D models of their final products. These 3D models are being used for downstream manufacturing processes such as CNC machining or 3D printing and other business processes such as marketing. The products manufactured in these industries lend well to being viewed in multi-platform viewing tools, for example taking a customer on a virtual tour of their new car, simply by using fly through viewing technology on an Apple iPad. Manufacturers can use PLM technology to build complete virtual models of their products and in addition to manufacturing and marketing, this digital information can be used for real-time simulations and even for through-life service and support applications. A whole eco-system has evolved to support these particular PLM solutions in PC-based environments. One of the reasons for this is due to the customer need to access digital information about a product through any type of platform, from PCs, tablets and all the way through to smartphone devices. By comparison, the high tech industry uses Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools to design the circuity on their silicon chips. Running simulations is another common requirement across semi-conductor manufacturers, being able to test circuit designs and ensure that chips are operating per their intended design parameters. Both of these design related processes require high powered workstations to complete the work in a timely manner. The oil and gas industry also performs numerous different types of simulations with analysis of ‘seismic surveys’ being one of the most common. Being able to analyse seismic surveys to construct 3D models of rock formations in near real time to help identify potential pockets of oil and gas can significantly speed up the overall exploration process. But how can remote UNIX users ensure that they can get un-interrupted access to networked UNIX resources in order to run such simulation processes? In another scenario, what if Shell for example was working with external design partners such as Halliburton on a new oil processing plant and these partners needed joint access to 3D design information? What if the design partner did not have access to UNIX workstations, let alone the design applications to open up the 3D CAD models? Today’s design environments are truly collaborative in nature and this is why a virtualized UNIX environment offers many benefits for companies operating in the high tech and oil and gas sectors. UNIX workstations have long been regarded as the design automation workhorse of these industries which is why today; UNIX workstations are still being used extensively in these particular industry sectors. There is another reason why UNIX workstations are so popular in the oil and gas sector. This sector has traditionally retained staff for a long period of time and many design staff will have been in the industry when UNIX workstations started to take over from mainframe-based environments in the late 1980s. However energy and high tech companies face another challenge when compared with their peer companies in the discrete manufacturing sectors mentioned above, the flexibility that PC-based platforms have over UNIX. But there is a solution which I will discuss in a moment. Over the last twenty years manufacturers have globalized their operations to support their customers, entering new markets such as China or India. They would typically establish new manufacturing plants and in some cases establish regional design offices to support local customer needs. For example in China the consumer typically prefers to be driven rather than drive the cars themselves. Many car manufacturers have setup remote design offices in China, requiring them to buy high-end, PC-based workstations and PLM design software licenses to run on those PC workstations. So this is great news for the discrete manufacturer who can scale up their design function quite easily by adding more PCs to their network infrastructure, but what about the semi-conductor manufacturers and oil and gas companies that also need to diversify into new markets and globalise their operations? How can they scale up their UNIX infrastructure to support the needs of their global business? As companies globalize their operations, they need to provide remote access to network resources such as the design applications used across the high tech and oil and gas sectors. For example Cadence and Intergraph respectively provide design applications for these particular industries, but how do you scale your UNIX-based design infrastructure without adding significant costs to your business, i.e., purchasing more UNIX workstations and at the same time not compromising on network security? The high tech industry has been plagued with network hacking issues over recent years. Designs for the latest semi-conductor chips are stolen from corporate networks and before you know it a cloned semi-conductor chip has been manufactured in the Far East. But if you need remote access to a UNIX based infrastructure how can you ensure that the connectivity between the remote user and the location hosting the UNIX application is secure? My first experience of using a virtualized computing infrastructure was back in the late 1990s when Sun Microsystems introduced their Java based Ray workstations. You popped your smart card into the Ray workstation, this provided a form of identification to the workstation, and you were then presented with a thin client that was able to access UNIX applications hosted in a remote data centre location. At the time I was building complex demonstration environments and the Sun Ray offered a unique way to access information that would traditionally have required a full blown UNIX workstation. Now admittedly the processing power on the early Ray workstation was not great for manipulating graphics and in fact later in its life the Sun Rays were used for running more general business applications rather than high end PLM solutions. But the concept of running applications remotely on thin clients was certainly a great idea and one which is still in wide use to this very day, especially in the high tech and energy sectors. However the technology used to run remote UNIX applications has moved on considerably. Here at OpenText, we offer a number of solutions to help companies manage, archive and access their digital information, irrespective of the type of platform you might be running on. OpenText Exceed VA TurboX, ETX, is a remote access connectivity solution, which allows organizations to deploy UNIX applications virtually to their users by keeping them running on UNIX servers, while allowing users to remotely access them through a web browser and achieve the same user experience than if they had the application installed on their desktop, no matter the distance between them and the data centre, both securely and centrally managed. ETX is ideal where the user needs to run high performance applications:- UNIX applications are accessible from anywhere in the world with no decline in performance, always secure and centrally managed ETX lets people work and collaborate virtually on UNIX applications from Windows, Linux and UNIX desktops anywhere in the world It removes the limitations and the complexity of traditional remote access solutions by offering the fastest connection to your business wrapped in a uniquely intuitive user experience Designed for the enterprise data center, it improves the security, manageability and availability of your UNIX applications So whether your business is in high tech, oil and gas or other industry sectors such as financial services where virtualised platforms can help reduce operational costs across your IT infrastructure, ETX can help companies take a big step into the digital first world. ETX allows companies to get products to market or deliver capital projects to their customers in a much shorter timeframe. Companies are able to improve how computing resources are deployed and it allows a centralized, private cloud to be established. ETX allows employees to be more productive through 24/7, global access to corporate business information and finally this is all achieved through a highly secure and regionally compliant solution. If you would like a free trial and further information on our ETX solution then please visit our dedicated web page by clicking here.

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OpenText Study Proves that B2B Integration Significantly Improves Supply Chain Performance


Over the past few months I have posted a few blogs highlighting the results from a new OpenText sponsored study by IDC Manufacturing Insights. The study demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between how increased adoption of B2B Integration technologies directly improves supply chain performance. In fact take a look at how key supply chain metrics are improved through the adoption of B2B integration technologies. To wrap up this project I just wanted to highlight how you can download further information about this study. The following link will allow you to access a recorded version of the webinar that we hosted with IDC in early March, a copy of the webinar slides, the executive white paper and finally the infographic shown below. IDC created the infographic to help illustrate some of the key findings from the study. Click here to access this content. Finally, if you would like to access the various blogs that I have written in support of this new study then please click on the following links :- General Introduction to the Study Automotive Industry Findings High Tech Industry Findings CPG Industry Findings  

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How B2B Integration Drives Superior Supply Chain Performance


Today’s manufacturers face a constant challenge of balancing supply chain efficiency with the investment placed in their B2B integration platform. To try and get a better understanding of whether increased use of B2B solutions and services impacts the performance of a supply chain, OpenText sponsored a new B2B integration related study with IDC Manufacturing Insights. This blog will briefly summarise some of the key findings from the study. IDC conducted a one hour qualitative survey with 270 global manufacturers across the automotive, high tech and consumer product goods sub-sectors. We had representation from eight countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and North America. In order to try and develop the hypothesis, IDC asked a number of questions about current B2B implementation initiatives across the 270 companies and they also asked questions relating to key supply chain metrics across each company. I spent a few months working with IDC on this study, so let me just highlight some of the B2B responses first. The first question looked at the key business initiatives that companies were embarking on over the next three years and international expansion into new markets was the key project as shown by the chart below. It is interesting to note that while many companies are trying to improve supply chain visibility and improve supply chain responsiveness they were not as high up in the chart as international expansion, develop more services and reduce operational costs. Indeed diversification into new sub-sectors is a key activity for many manufacturers today, for example high-tech companies exploring new opportunities in the growing electric vehicle market. In order to try and understand how pervasive B2B technologies were across the companies surveyed, the next question asked about the volume of electronic transactions that were being conducted today. Given the consumer driven, fast moving nature of the automotive and high tech sectors, I guess it is no surprise that it is these two industries that are exchanging transactions electronically with more than 75% of their trading partners. CPG on the other hand has a relatively low level, probably due to the fact that many CPG goods are manufactured in countries such as India and China where the use of B2B tools is relatively low when compared to other manufacturing hubs around the world. The study found there were a number of business drivers for companies needing to improve their B2B environment over the next three years. According to leading analysts, the manufacturing sector is going to be the fastest growing adopter of new Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) regulations. This was confirmed by the responses to our study which said that increased regulatory compliance was the number one reason why companies were increasing investment in their B2B infrastructure. This was closely followed by an increasing pressure from customers to adopt B2B integration processes. The survey showed that there was a marked shift in terms of the key barriers to adopting new B2B services. One of the main barriers in the past was getting top level management buy in that B2B integration could bring significant benefits to the business. Our study showed that this barrier was the least likely to prevent a new B2B project from starting. In fact the number one barrier to increased B2B adoption was competing IT projects such as ERP. ERP is typically the number one focus area for CIOs and as such tend to get the most budget and resources to deploy. ERP systems typically have to be live by a specific date and if the date slips then IT resources from other projects are pulled in as required. This could leave other IT projects such as a B2B on-boarding project severely exposed. Even when companies have deployed an ERP and B2B environment, our study showed that nearly 40% of companies had still not integrated their ERP and B2B platforms together. Here at OpenText we find ERP B2B integration projects as a key driver for companies adopting our B2B Managed Services environment. In terms of the benefits gained from B2B integration, companies cited lower inventories as the main benefit. This was most apparent from nearly 60% of automotive respondents who have invested heavily in recent years following the last economic downturn and to help support their global expansion initiatives. As I highlighted at the beginning of this blog post, the study was truly global in nature, covering all the major manufacturing hubs around the world and I just wanted to briefly highlight some of the key findings by region: 71% of German companies trade electronically with less than 50% of their trading partners 80% of Japanese companies said that inventory reduction was a key benefit of B2B integration 62% of US companies trading electronically with more than 50% of their trading partners 27% of Chinese companies trading electronically with more than 50% of their trading partners 57% of South Korean companies said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to B2B adoption One of the major goals of the study was to find out how companies were progressing in their understanding of how modern B2B technologies can help drive superior business results. To achieve this, it was important to get an understanding of the perceived performance of specific supply chain activities. Once these supply chain metrics were analysed it would then be possible to see if there was any correlation between supply chain performance and the impact of B2B technologies. Here are some examples of the metrics that were measured as part of the analysis: 50% of US companies can process an invoice in under one hour 73% of Chinese companies have an average time to market of less than 120 days 90% of Brazilian companies perform up to two inventory turns per month 87% of Chinese companies deliver greater than 95% perfect orders 60% of Japanese companies have an average customer order delivery time of less than 7 days Overall, there were some interesting findings from a supply chain metrics point of view and I will write a separate blog that examines some of these results. But in the meantime I just wanted to include one chart relating to a specific business process that is seeing increasing levels of digitisation, namely invoicing. The chart below highlights the time it takes for the surveyed companies to process an invoice. The real-time numbers shown below would indicate companies that have adopted electronic invoicing solutions. Acknowledging that the supply chain metrics would be different for each industry, average metrics were created for each industry and IDC then identified ‘top performer’ companies for each metric, ie companies with a performance that significantly exceeds industry average. Building upon this analysis, four ‘performance groups’ were defined according to the amount of times each company was over performing their industry average. Leaders – Companies that are “top performers” in 4 or more metrics Experts – Companies that are “top performers” in 2 or 3 metrics Beginners – Companies that are “top performers” in just one metric Laggards – Companies that are never “top performers” Now I could just provide the final chart that shows the correlation between B2B integration and these four performance groups, however to get a better understanding of this study and the responses we got from these 270 global manufacturers, I would actively encourage you to download a copy of the study, which is available to download FROM HERE. IDC drew a number of conclusions from the results of the study and the complete list of recommendations are available by downloading the study, however some key points include: Start from Business Integration to Achieve Collaboration – To obtain a comprehensive view of the extended supply chain and collaborate with business partners you should first be able to integrate with them Redesign Supply Chains – Having a collaborative information exchange process is core to being able to support global trading partners and ensure that supply chains are resilient in the face of volatile demand or unexpected supply chain disruptions Acknowledge the Opportunity of Elevating the Role of Your B2B Infrastructure – B2B infrastructures are in many cases still considered a commodity tool, but moving forward manufacturers will need to make it: ‘The central information exchange layer of the organization’ In summary, the study demonstrated that manufacturers can achieve hard benefits by improving their B2B related processes. In fact the study demonstrated that there was a strict correlation between having a pervasive, more modern and collaborative B2B platform in place and being a leader in supply chain performance. To get a better understanding of the analysis and to get IDC’s direct response to the findings from the study I would encourage you to DOWNLOAD the study and if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact OpenText. Over the next few weeks I will take a deeper look at some of the industry specific results from the study

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Did You Know That 77% of CPG Companies are ‘Low Adopters’ of B2B Integration Technologies?


In the last of a series of industry focused blogs relating to a new B2B study that OpenText commissioned from IDC Manufacturing Insights, I just wanted to briefly review the responses from the CPG related manufacturers. As I mentioned before, the aim of the study was to see if there was any correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study.  You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The consumer product goods industry has undergone immense financial pressures in recent years, with retailers squeezing their margins and continually changing payment terms to suit market conditions. CPG companies are now having to source manufactured goods from new low cost markets. The introduction of the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) countries is starting to cause a global shift away from the BRIC markets where many CPG related goods have traditionally been manufactured.  Even Chinese based manufacturers are looking at new markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam as they offer lower cost manufacturing than their own country. This constant shift in production location is being driven by a need to source the highest quality goods at the lowest prices. Some CPG manufacturers headquartered in North America and Europe have struggled to automate their supply chain processes due to B2B enablement issues relating to suppliers in the new generation of emerging markets.  It should be every company’s goal to electronically enable 100% of their trading partner community but the findings from the IDC study showed that the CPG sector is actually behind the more advanced B2B infrastructures used in the automotive and high tech industries. Here are some of the key findings from the IDC study: 94% said they trade electronically with less than 50% of their trading partners – this highlights a huge opportunity to B2B enable an entire trading partner community.  It is highly likely that companies struggle to enable suppliers in emerging markets, perhaps due to limited technical skills within the supply base, poor IT infrastructures to support B2B solutions and limited availability of skilled resources on the ground in these particular locations. If CPG companies are to 100% enable trading partner engagement then they need to offer a range of B2B enablement tools and more importantly work with a B2B provider that can help onboard these really small suppliers in the most remote of locations.  Needless to say this is an area that OpenText has significant experience in. 49% said that their customers are driving new B2B projects – changing consumer demand and a switch to Omni-channel retailing is having a dramatic effect on CPG manufacturers.  Retailers are having to become more responsive to these fluctuations in consumer demand by embracing new retail concepts such as ‘dark stores’ and shipping direct to the consumer. The explosive growth in online retail, especially across mobile devices such as the iPad, means that retailers need to be more responsive to their customers and this has led to a need to modernize B2B infrastructures and offer tighter integration to backend enterprise platforms such as ERP. 49% said reduced logistics costs was a key benefit of B2B integration – ensuring that a CPG manufacturer has end to end visibility across their supply chain has become a key initiative for today’s Supply Chain Director.  From being able to identify inventory located in a distribution centre anywhere in the world to tracking inventory in transit in real time across multi-modal third party logistics providers, B2B integration provides the opportunity to seamlessly keep track of inventory movements.  B2B integration, especially via tools being deployed in the cloud, allows 3PL providers to automate many manual, paper based processes. In the past, delays in shipping goods would have been caused by simply mis-typing information into shipping related documentation. Extracting this information automatically from other business systems through B2B integration and then creating the correct shipping labels or 2D bar codes has significantly helped to reduce logistics costs and simplify the cross border shipment of goods. 42% said that competing IT projects such as ERP were a barrier to starting B2B projects – this was actually a common issue across all the industries surveyed for this study.  However out of all the B2B adoption barriers highlighted by the CPG respondents to the study, introduction of new ERP projects was by far the most common barrier to starting a new B2B project.  As highlighted in the automotive related findings, ERP integration is typically the most high profile project undertaken by today’s CIO and if an ERP go live date is missed then IT resources will be pulled in from other projects to complete as required.  This will for example leave a B2B project exposed or could indefinitely delay the start of a new B2B project.  A simple solution to this particular problem is to use the B2B resources of an outsourced provider such as OpenText who can look after your B2B project whilst your IT organization focusses on your ERP deployment. So despite operating in a very fast moving, consumer driven market, CPG companies tend to lag behind other industries in terms of B2B adoption. In fact the study showed that 77% of CPG respondents said they were low adopters of electronic transactions and B2B processes. It is no surprise that companies in this sector perceived fewer benefits from their installed B2B technologies and at the same time this highlights the opportunity for savvy companies willing to take their B2B infrastructures to the next stage. From a general supply chain metrics point of view, 84% of CPG respondents had an average customer order delivery time of less than seven days and 97% of CPG companies have an average time to market of less than 120 days. Finally, another interesting result from the study relates to which new and disruptive technologies are going to have the most impact on CPG manufacturers.  The study highlighted that In the automotive industry it was 3D printing, in the high tech industry it was advanced robotics and in the CPG industry it is the ‘Internet of Things’.  The benefits of IoT are well documented and in the fast moving consumer goods market having the ability to track shipments through a broad network of connected ‘things’ and to also be able to detect out of stock situations more quickly will help to improve the overall performance of CPG related supply chains. For me it is just interesting that CPG companies have latched onto IoT as being a key enabler for improving their business operations before they have even got the basic B2B infrastructure in place to be able to exchange information electronically across their trading partner community. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form here. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

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Did You Know That 80% of High Tech Companies are ‘High Adopters’ of B2B Integration Technologies?

A few weeks ago I posted a blog summarising the automotive related results from a recent B2B study that OpenText sponsored. The aim of the study was to see if there was a direct correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. I will take a look at the CPG related results in my next blog but as I am spending this week in the heart of Silicon Valley over on the US West Coast I thought it only appropriate to discuss the high tech results in this blog article. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study. You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The global high tech industry is going through a major renaissance at the moment, new business opportunities being presented in the automotive industry, wearable devices and the internet of things sectors. In fact I would say that high tech companies are investing more in the internet of things related technologies than any other industry sub-sector at the moment, for example Intel’s investment in a new generation of chips for embedded devices. With all this focus on new investment areas it presents further opportunities for consolidation across the industry and only last week NXP semiconductors announced their intention to acquire their smaller rival Freescale Semiconductors. Continued M&A activity will present new challenges for B2B managers across the industry as they are forced to consolidate multiple B2B networks on to a single global B2B network. Increased regulatory compliance such as Conflict Minerals compliance is starting to be adopted by more regions around the world as a way of removing so called ‘3TG’ minerals from global supply chains. Increased regulatory compliance is driving a need for companies to think about how they manage their trading partner communities and how ultimately they should be working more collaboratively with their global trading partners. Finally this week will see high tech supply chains gearing up for the launch of the next big consumer must have gadget, Apple’s iWatch is finally being released. Apple is a past master at readying their supply chain for such product launches but it does nicely illustrate how the high tech industry has become so consumer driven in nature. So now let me discuss a few of the high tech related results from our study: 79% said they exchange B2B transactions electronically with their trading partners . I guess there is no surprise here that high tech companies have a high expectation to exchange business documents electronically with their trading partners. As with the automotive industry, the high tech industry is truly global in nature and in the case of semi-conductor chips they are manufactured in a multi-stage process that embraces many different production and finishing locations around the world. To try and encourage greater participation from its trading partners around the world, the high tech industry introduced its own highly successful XML based document format called RosettaNet which is still very much in use across the industry today. 58% said that B2B adoption had reduced their procurement costs. Greater visibility into the supply chain and in particular inventory locations around the world meant that high tech companies could reduce their procurement costs by being able to better optimise inventory from multiple locations around the world. In addition, the costs and time to manually process transactions across the procure to pay process can be reduced by providing high tech trading partners with the right B2B tools according to their technical capabilities. 54% said that shipment status was one of the most important B2B transactions in use across their industry today . Knowing when supplier shipments are going to turn up at the factory gate is crucial to the smooth running of today’s production lines. Connecting to a single, global, cloud based B2B platform such as OpenText Trading Grid provides the end to end visibility that high tech manufacturers require. It is not just improved visibility into the direct materials supply chain but also in the aftermarket repair business where field service teams need to know when spare parts will arrive, being able to tell a customer that their high tech product will be repaired by a specific date is key to improving customer satisfaction levels. 47% said that competing IT projects such as ERP were a barrier to starting B2B projects . Given that ERP projects such as a major SAP deployment are the most expensive and hence high profile IT project under the control of the CIO, it is no wonder that ERP projects tend to get 100% attention from IT resources during a roll out phase. Having all IT resources diverted to an ERP deployment can potentially disrupt other IT initiatives such as a B2B program for example. Then again I would argue that if 47% of high tech companies see ERP as a barrier to B2B adoption, I would say that during ERP implementation this provides the ideal opportunity to think about integrating ERP and B2B platforms together. ERP B2B integration is a key reason why many high tech companies have deployed our Managed Services platform to provide a single outsourced integration platform. So the barrier in this case certainly provides the opportunity for B2B integration. 42% said they processed invoices in real time with trading partners . In Europe for example, with 28 member countries of the European Union, there are 28 different tax compliance laws, 28 different ways to apply digital signatures and 28 different ways to archive invoices. If you are a high tech company based across the border in one of the Eastern European countries such as Slovenia then navigating your way through invoicing compliance in Western Europe is a complex process. The high tech industry is not only consumer driven but it is fast moving in nature and its suppliers need to make sure they can be paid quickly in order to make sure that they can fulfil orders to their numerous customers in a timely manner. Adopting B2B integration and in particular electronic invoicing can significantly reduce invoice processing times and by working with a company such as OpenText that offers electronic invoicing solutions it means that you can work with suppliers in any country, irrespective of the invoice regulations that may be present in these countries. In fact one further piece of analysis that we did as part of this project found that automating invoicing processes through the use of B2B integration technologies such as electronic invoicing had increased the speed of invoice processing by 156%. Overall, the high tech industry had the highest level of electronic B2B exchange of all the industries surveyed with nearly 80% being ‘high adopters’ of B2B integration technologies. As mentioned earlier this is due to the fast paced nature of the industry, with nearly 99% of high tech respondents performing two inventory turns per month, and the need to have a highly responsive supply chain network that can adapt to continually changing market dynamics. This is amplified by the diverse range of trading partners involved across the high tech supply chain, from contract manufacturers (who make products for many different customers) to distributors, and fabless semiconductor manufacturers to raw material providers. Exploiting new market opportunities over the next three years was one of the key initiatives being undertaken by high tech companies. 57% of South Korean respondents, of which a high proportion were from the high tech industry, said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to B2B adoption, however I would argue that if companies chose a cloud based B2B platform then this would not only help to reduce supply chain complexity but it would help to provide the flexibility and scalability that the fast moving high tech industry urgently needs. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form here. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

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Step Aside Cloud, Mobile and Big Data, IoT has just Entered the Room


This article provides a review of the ARC Advisory Group Forum in Orlando and expands on the ever increasing importance of analytics in relation to the Internet of Things The room I am referring to here is the office of the CIO, or should that be CTO or CDO (Chief Digital Officer), you see even as technology is evolving, the corporate role to manage digital transformation is evolving too. Since 2011, when Cloud, Mobile and Big Data technologies started to go mainstream, individual strategies to support each of these technologies have been evolving and some would argue that in some cases they remain separate strategies today. However the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the strategic agenda very quickly. For some reason IoT as a ‘collective & strategic’ term, has caught the interest of the enterprise and the consumer alike. IoT allows companies to effectively define one strategy that potentially embraces elements of cloud, mobile and Big Data. I would argue that in terms of IoT, cloud is nearly a commodity term that has evolved into offering connectivity any time, any place or anywhere. Mobile has evolved from simply porting enterprise applications to HTML5 to wearable technology such as Microsoft HoloLens, shown below. Finally Big Data which is broadening its appeal by focussing more on the analytics of information rather than just archiving huge volumes of data. In short, IoT has brought a stronger sense of purpose to cloud, mobile and Big Data. Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the ARC Advisory Group Forum in Orlando, a great conference if you have an interest in the Industrial Internet of Things and the direction this is taking. The terminology being used here is interesting as it is just another strand of the IoT, I will expand more on this naming convention a bit later in this post. There were over 700 attendees to the conference, and a lot of interest, as you would expect from industrial manufacturers such as GE, ABB, ThyssenKrupp & Schneider Electric. These companies weren’t just attending as delegates, they were actually showcasing their own IoT related technologies in the expo hall. In fact it was quite interesting to hear how many industrial companies were establishing state of the art software divisions for developing their own IoT applications. For me, the company that made the biggest impact at the conference was GE and their Intelligent Platforms division. GEIP focused heavily on industrial analytics and in particular how it could help companies improve the maintenance of equipment, either in the field or in a factory by using advanced analytics techniques to support predictive maintenance routines. So how does IoT support predictive maintenance scenarios then? It is really about applying IoT technologies such as sensors and analytics to industrial equipment and then being able to process the information coming from the sensors in real time to help identify trends in data and how it is then possible to predict when a component such as a water pump is likely to fail.  If you can predict when a component is likely to fail, you can replace a faulty component as part of a predictive maintenance routine and the piece of equipment is less likely to experience any unexpected downtime. In GE’s case they have many years of experience and knowledge of how their equipment performs in the field and so they can utilise this historical data as well to determine the potential timeline of component failure.  In fact GE went to great lengths to discuss the future of the ‘Brilliant Factory’. The IoT has brought a sense of intelligence or awareness to many pieces of industrial equipment and it was interesting learning from these companies about how they would leverage the IoT moving forwards. There were two common themes to the presentations and what the exhibitors were showcasing in the expo hall. Firstly cyber-security, over the past few months there has been no end of hacking related stories in the press and industrial companies are working very hard to ensure that connected equipment is not ‘hackable’.  The last thing you want is a rogue country hacking into your network, logging into a machine on the shopfloor and stealing tool path cutting information for your next great product that is likely to take the world by storm.  So device or equipment security is really a key focus area for industrial companies in 2015.  Interestingly it wasn’t just cyber-security of connected devices that was keeping CIOs awake at night, a new threat is emerging on the horizon.  What if a complete plant full of connected devices could be brought down by a simple Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat, this was another scenario discussed in one of the sessions at the conference. So encryption and shielding of data is a key focus area for many research establishments at the moment. The second key theme at the conference was analytics. As we know, Big Data has been around for a few years now but even though companies were good at storing TBs of data on mass storage devices they never really got the true value from the data by mining through it and looking for trends or pieces of information that could either transform the performance of a piece of equipment or improve the efficiency of a production process.  By itself, Big Data is virtually useless unless something is done which results in actionable intelligence and insight that delivers value to the organisation. Interesting quote from Oracle,93% of executives believe that organisations are losing revenue as a result of not being able to fully leverage the information they have. So deriving value from information coming from sensors attached to connected devices is going to become a key growth sector moving forwards. It is certainly an area that the CIO/CTO/CDO is extremely interested in as it can directly impact the bottom line and ultimately bring increased value to shareholders. I guess it is no surprise then that the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, OpenText, should acquire Actuate, a leading provider of analytics based solutions. Last week the Information Exchange business unit of OpenText, which has a strong focus on B2B integration and supply chain, launched Trading Grid Analytics, a value add service to provide improved insights into transaction based information flowing across our cloud based Trading Grid infrastructure. With 16 billion transactions flowing across our business network each year there is a huge opportunity to mine this information and derive new value from these transactions, not just in the EDI related information that is being transmitted between companies on our network. Can you imagine the benefits that global governments could realise if they could predict a country’s GDP based on the volume of order and production related B2B transactions flowing across our network? Actuate is not integrated to Trading Grid just yet but it will eventually become a core piece of technology to analyse information flowing across not just Trading Grid but our other EIM solutions.  It is certainly an exciting time if you are a customer using our EIM solutions! Actuate has some great embedded analytics capabilities that will potentially help improve the overall operational efficiency of connected industrial equipment. In a previous blog I mentioned about B2B transactions being raised ‘on device’ , well with semi-conductor manufacturers such as Intel  spending millions of dollars developing low power chips to place on connected devices, it means that the device will become even more ‘intelligent’ and almost autonomous in nature.  I think we will see a lot more strategic partnerships announced between the semi-conductor manufacturers and industrial equipment manufacturers such as GE and ABB etc. Naturally, cloud, mobile and big data plays a big part in the overall success of an IoT related strategy. I certainly think we will see the emergence of more FOG based processing environments.  ‘FOG’ I hear you ask?, yes another term I heard at a Cisco IoT world forum two years ago.  Basically a connected device is able to perform some form of processing or analytics task in a FOG environment which is much closer to the connected device than a traditional cloud platform.  Think of FOG as being half way between the connected device and the cloud, ie a lot of pre-processing can take place on or near the connected device before the information is sent to a central cloud platform. So coming back to the conference, there was actually another area that was partially discussed, the area of IoT standards.  I guess it is to be expected that as this is a new technology area it will take time to develop new standards for how devices are connected to each other and standard ways for transporting, processing and securing the information flows. But there is another area of IoT related standards that is bugging me at the moment!, the many derivatives of the term IoT that are emerging.  IoT was certainly the first term defined by Kevin Ashton, closely followed by GE who introduced the Industrial Internet of Things, Cisco introducing the Internet of Everything and then you have the German manufacturers introducing Industry 4.0.  I appreciate that is has been the manufacturing industry that has driven a lot of IoT development so far but what about other industries such as retail, energy, healthcare  and other industry sub-sectors?  Admittedly IoT is a very generic term but already it is being more associated with consumer related technologies such as wearable devices and connected home devices such as NEST.  So in addition to defining standards for IoT cyber security, connectivity and data flows, how about introducing a standard naming convention that could support each and every industry? As there isn’t a suitable set of naming conventions, let me start the ball rolling by defining a common naming convention!  I think the following image nicely explains what I am thinking of here. In closing, I would argue, based on the presentations I saw at the ARC conference, that the industrial manufacturing sector is the most advanced in terms of IoT adoption. Can you imagine what sort of world we will live in when all the industries listed above embrace IoT, one word, exciting! Mark Morley currently leads industry marketing for the manufacturing sector at OpenText.  In this role Mark has a focus on automotive, high tech and the industrial sectors. Mark also defines the go-to-market strategy and thought leadership for applying B2B e-commerce and integration solutions within these sectors.

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Forget the Oscars, Tata Motors Won a Bigger Award in Mumbai


Last week I had the pleasure of attending our Innovation Tour event in Mumbai, the first leg of a multi-city tour of the world to showcase our Enterprise Information Management solutions and how they help companies move to the digital first world! The event was very well attended and it was good to see keen interest being shown in our new offerings such as Actuate and Core and our other more mature EIM solutions. Enterprise World has traditionally been our key event of the year, but the Innovation Tour provides a way for OpenText to get closer to our customers around the world, Mumbai was no exception with keen interest shown in our expo hall. I have been to India before, two years ago in fact, to meet with an automotive industry association that looks after the ICT needs of the entire Indian automotive industry. Back then, the discussion was focused around B2B integration. However, last week’s event in  Mumbai showcased all solutions from the OpenText portfolio. One of the interesting solution areas being showcased by one of our customers was Business Process Management (BPM) and it is only fitting that one of our Indian based customers won an award for their deployment of BPM. Why fitting? Well, India has long been the global hub for business process outsourcing, so I guess you could say there is a natural interest in improving the management of business processes in India. OpenText has a strong presence in the Indian market. OpenText presented a number of awards during the event, and Tata Motors was the worthy winner of the award for the best deployment of BPM. Incidentally, Tata Motors also won the global Heroes Award at last year’s Enterprise World event for their deployment of our Cordys BPM Solution. So who are Tata Motors, I hear you ask? Well, they are the largest vehicle manufacturer in India with consolidated revenues of $38.9 billion. Tata Motors is part of a large group of companies which includes Tata Steel, Jaguar Land Rover in the UK, Tata Technologies and many other smaller companies that serve the domestic market in India. Tata Group is fast becoming a leading OpenText customer showcasing many different EIM solutions. For example, Jaguar Land Rover uses OpenText Managed Services to manage the B2B communications with over 1,200 suppliers following divestiture from Ford in 2009. Tata Steel in Europe also uses our Managed Services platform to help consolidate eleven separate EDI platforms and three web portals onto a single, common platform. So, simplification and consolidation of IT and B2B infrastructures is a common theme across Tata Group, and Tata Motors is no different with their implementation of OpenText BPM. Tata Motors has struggled over the years to exchange information electronically with over 750 vehicle dealers across India. Varying IT skills, multiple business processes, combined with having to use a notoriously difficult utilities and communications infrastructure across the country was really starting to impact Tata Motor’s business. In addition, their IT infrastructure had to support over 35,000 users and there were over 90 different types of business application in use across 1,200 departments of the company. So ensuring  that accurate, timely information could be exchanged across both internal and external users was proving to be a huge problem for Tata Motors. Step forward, OpenText BPM! Tata Motors decided to depoy our Cordys BPM solution as a SOA based backed platform to connect all their business applications and more importantly provide a common platform to help exchange information electronically across their extensive dealer network. Even though they had deployed Siebel CRM across their dealer network, Tata Motors faced a constant challenge of having to process a high volume of manual, paper based information, quite often this information would be inaccurate due to mis-keying of information. A simple mistake, but when scaled up across 750 dealers, it can have a serious impact on the bottom line and more importantly impact customer satisfaction levels with respect to new vehicle deliveries or spare parts related orders. Tata Motors had a number of goals for this particular project: Implement a Service Oriented Architecture – Primary objective was to setup a SOA environment for leveraging existing services and hence avoid re-inventing the wheel. They also wanted to use this platform to streamline the current integrations between multiple business systems. Process Automation / Business Process Management – They had a lot of manual, semi-automated of completely automated processes. Manual or semi-automated processes were inefficient and in some cases ineffective as well. Some of their automated processes were actually disconnected with actual business case scenarios. So the goal for implementing BPM was to bring these processes more nearer to ‘business design’, thus improving efficiency and process adherence. Uniform Web Services Framework – Tata Motors goal was to try and establish a single source of web services that could convert existing functionalities of underlying service sources into inter-operable web services. So, what were the primary reasons for Tata Motors choosing OpenText BPM? It was a SOA enabler, its business process automation capabilities, comprehensive product for application development, minimizes the application development time and improved cost effectiveness. Their BPM implementation covered two main areas: Enterprise Applications Integration – mainly deals with inward facing functionalities of employee and manufacturing related process applications. They had many applications but they had a common fault, they did not follow SOA principles. Web services had to be developed inside every application which was very inefficient from a time and resources point of view. In addition, if an application had to connect to SAP then it was an independent, unmanaged and insecure connection. Customer Relationship & Dealer Management Systems Integration –Tata Motors is the biggest player in the commercial vehicles sector in India and one of the biggest in terms of passenger car related sales, with over 750 dealers scattered across India. The dealerships are managed using Siebel CRM-DMS implementation but with many changes being rolled out across the system it needed a supporting platform to effectively manage this process. Cordys became the primary environment for developing CRM-DMS applications. So in summary, Cordys BPM has been integrated with SAP, Siebel CRM-DMS, Email/Exchange Server, Active Directory, Oracle Identity Manager, SMS Gateway and mobile applications across Android and iOS. The Cordys implementation also resulted in a number of business benefits including, improved process efficiency, stronger process adherence, built on a SOA based platform, significant cost and time savings. The project has already achieved its ROI ! Moving forwards OpenText BPM will act as a uniform, centrally managed and secure web services base for all applications used across Tata Motors landscape, irrespective of the technology in which it is developed. The platform will also provide an evolving architecture to mobilise existing applications and they plan to integrate to an in-house developed document management system. Finally, the go forward plan is to move their Cordys implementation to the cloud for improved management of their infrastructure. I have visited many car manufacturers over the years and one company head quartered in the Far East had over 300 dealers in Europe and each one had been allowed to implement their own CRM and DMS environments to manage their dealer business processes. Prior to the acquisition of GXS (my former company) by OpenText, I had to inform them that GXS didn’t have a suitable integration platform to help seamlessly connect all 300 dealers to a single platform. With OpenText BPM we can clearly achieve such an integration project now and Tata Motors is certainly a shining light in terms of what is achievable from an extended enterprise application integration point of view. Congratulations Tata Motors! For more information on OpenText BPM solutions, please CLICK HERE. Finally, I just want to say many thanks to my OpenText colleagues in India; it was a very successful event and a team effort to make it happen. For more information on our Innovation Tour schedule, please CLICK HERE

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Will the Creation of ‘On Device’ or ‘On Thing’ Based B2B Transactions Ever Become a Reality?


Over the past five years CIOs around the world have been rolling out their cloud based B2B strategies. Whether deploying B2B on premise, on cloud or as a hybrid environment, companies have been able to deploy B2B infrastructures according to their budget, strategy and technical capabilities. Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service initiatives have been deployed with great effect, and numerous other ‘as-a-Service’ definitions have evolved. So where next for B2B based infrastructures?, well with nearly every CIO formulating a strategy in support of the Internet of Things, how about an On Device or On Thing based B2B strategy? I have posted twenty or so blogs relating to cloud infrastructures since 2010 and over the past year I have spent some time looking at the Internet of Things and where this may go in relation to supply chains of the future.  In a couple of my IoT related blogs I provided some examples on how I thought IoT connected devices could connect into an enterprise infrastructure, (read about it here), and then initiate some form of closed loop ordering process as part of a replenishment or predictive maintenance scenario. I read an article on last September where the author described something called the Internet of ‘Things as a Service’ or TaaS for short.  I didn’t realise it at the time of writing my own blogs but this is exactly what I was describing, namely a connected device will be able to analyse its own consumption trends or wear rates and then be able to place some form of order for replacement parts without any human intervention.  OK, sounds a bit far-fetched but I can guarantee this is where things, no pun intended, will be going in the future. Billions of dollars are being spent on developing onboard or embedded processing, sensing, storage and analytics based technologies for IoT based devices.  Many companies such as Intel are betting huge research budgets to develop next generation semi-conductor chips that can be embedded on ‘things’. In fact only last week, OpenText acquired a leading analytics company , and they have been looking at embedded analytics for IoT devices. I will take a look at embedded analytics in relation to B2B in a future blog entry as I believe it will transform how companies visualise, interact and manage B2B related information flowing across the extended enterprise. Two weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with ARC Advisory Group relating to device or ‘thing’ level creation of B2B transactions. ARC use the term Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to describe their take on this area as they are keen to differentiate themselves from more consumer focused IoT devices such as wearable technology and home automation equipment. As I have mentioned before there are many big players entering the IIoT space, for example GE (who originally coined the IIoT term), Cisco and Bosch to name but a few. Could we see a piece of equipment in the field, for example a generator or excavator, initiating a B2B transaction by itself to order a replacement part that is just about to fail? For the purposes of this blog I just wanted to introduce the idea of a device or ‘thing’ derived B2B transaction and you can read more in the ARC article that was written to support this.  

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Did You Know 76% of Automotive Companies Exchange B2B Transactions Electronically?

In December last year I posted a blog relating to a new study from OpenText that was conducted by IDC Manufacturing Insights. The main goal of the study was to see if there was a direct correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. The study covered three industry sectors including automotive, high tech and consumer product goods (CPG). For the purposes of this blog article I wanted to spend a few minutes reviewing the results from the automotive related respondents to the survey. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study. You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The survey relating to this study covered all the major automotive manufacturing hubs around the world, including Japan, China, North America, Brazil and the UK as OpenText wanted to obtain a truly global view of how B2B solutions were being deployed across the industry. I would like to now discuss some of the more important B2B integration results from the study that relate to the automotive industry. 76% exchange B2B transactions electronically – the automotive industry needs to support a network of global trading partners and it is therefore important to be able to exchange B2B transactions electronically. Whether working with a casting manufacturer in China or a plastic housing manufacturer in Brazil, being able to onboard global suppliers and ensure that information can be exchanged electronically, irrespective of technical capability, is a high business priority for many automotive companies. 67% exchange information collaboratively and in real time – the automotive industry relies on numerous partnerships including those with outside contract manufacturers and design consultancy firms and hence it is important to be able to exchange information seamlessly and in a collaborative fashion with these key partners. Time to market in the automotive industry can provide a key competitive advantage and being able to exchange information in real time helps to support this particular corporate initiative. From a manufacturing point of view, Just-in-Time production systems rely on the timely delivery of Advance Ship Notice (ASN) transactions from key suppliers, therefore having a highly available B2B integration platform in place is critical to the reliable delivery of these transactions. 59% said that B2B integration had reduced inventory levels – being able to connect globally diverse business systems to a common B2B platform helps to improve end to end visibility of business transactions. Providing access to a common B2B platform means that manufacturers have improved inventory visibility across global production and distribution facilities. 44% said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to improving B2B integration – the global nature of the automotive industry, combined with the complex nature of the products being manufactured, namely vehicles, means that it can sometimes be difficult to roll out new B2B integration projects in a timely manner. Car manufacturers are starting to introduce more global vehicle platforms, and this has helped to reduce the number of parts in a vehicle, which has the knock on effect of simplifying the supply chain. Working across different geographies, cultures and time zones means that companies need to partner with a B2B provider that can truly support their global operations. OpenText is the world’s largest provider of cloud based B2B integration services. 43% said their reason for adopting B2B integration was mandated by customers – many automotive suppliers around the world are asked to exchange B2B transactions electronically by their customers. In many cases being able to trade electronically is a condition of doing business with their customers. Large car manufacturers such as Ford insist for example that ASNs are exchanged within a relatively narrow window and the only way tier 1 suppliers can do this is to exchange ASNs electronically. 62% had fully integrated their B2B and ERP systems together – another study conducted by OpenText showed that over a third of information entering ERP comes from outside the enterprise. So having tight integration between a B2B and ERP system is crucial to the smooth operation of today’s automotive production environments and the new IDC study reconfirms this. If transactions entering ERP can be automatically checked to ensure that only up to date and accurate information enters ERP then it will help to reduce downstream rework of information and prevent inaccurate information entering other production systems. Incorrect information could potentially bring production to a halt. The study showed that the automotive industry has a high proportion of ‘focused adopters’ of B2B integration solutions due to some of the unique automotive production processes that need to be supported. The shift in focus towards ‘preferred relationships’ across the industry has driven, over the years, a significant improvement in the quality of IT systems, and as such many automotive companies are exchanging information collaboratively and in real-time with their key trading partners. This is an essential feature to help reduce inventory costs and speed up their time to market. Finally, IDC asked automotive companies which new technologies such as cloud computing, mobile, big data and social media would see exponential growth in the future and big data came out on top. It is no surprise big data had such a positive response due to the sheer volume of information flowing across today’s automotive supply chains. We also took the opportunity of asking the survey respondents which emerging technology trends such as the Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Advanced Robotics and Wearable Devices would lead future investment priorities and as expected 3D Printing came out on top. 3D Printing is one of the most disruptive new technologies and has the potential to reshape the automotive supply chains of the future. In some cases we may see ‘zero length supply chains’ being introduced on the back of 3D Printing technologies. This is an area that I will be looking at more closely in a future blog entry. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form via THIS LINK. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

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Join Santa Claus on his Journey to the Digital First World!

When OpenText acquired GXS in January 2014, little did the company know that they would also be acquiring a customer widely regarded as having one of the most secretive businesses in the world. Over the years, many companies have decided to outsource the management of their B2B environment and in 2008, GXS signed a Managed Services contract with its most high profile customer, Santa Claus Enterprises in the North Pole. Over the years I have kept in close contact with this particular customer as they have been a shining example of how to deploy the full portfolio of B2B solutions from OpenText. Each year, just before Santa’s busiest period, I have provided a summary of the enhancements to their B2B environment. The evolution of Santa’s B2B environment is documented via the blogs below, feel free to take a look through as they will also provide some interesting insights into what it takes to deliver millions of Christmas presents on just one night of the year. 2013 – Santa deploys the Internet of Things across his North Pole Operations 2012 – Santa begins to evaluate the information flowing across SantaNet and implements a Big Data strategy 2011 – OpenText Active Community gets rolled out across Santa’s trading partner community to improve day to day collaboration across his Present Delivery Network and he also gets nominated for B2B Heroes award 2010 – Santa evaluates how cloud computing and mobile devices could improve North Pole operations 2009 – Santa completes deployment of OpenText Managed Services and begins to embrace social media tools 2008 – OpenText Managed Services chosen to support Santa’s new B2B hub, OpenText Intelligent Web Forms deployed to create SantaNet Santa’s little helpers, namely his army of elves, were asked by Santa to review the portfolio of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions from OpenText to see where further benefits could be made by automating manual business processes and digitising the remainder of his business operations. Many companies are embarking on a digital journey to improve the way in which different departments manage and get access to their corporate information. In fact ‘Digital Transformation’ projects are high on the agenda of many CIOs around the world at the moment and OpenText is in a unique position to provide a one stop shop to transform companies into a digital business. In August I received an email from Sonja Lundström, Santa’s trusted advisor and executive assistant, inviting me to go up to the North Pole to provide a digital business briefing for Santa and his executive board. Santa’s board members comprise of senior executives from some of the world’s leading toy manufacturers including Mattel, Hasbro and Lego. As with previous trips up to the North Pole, I was asked to check in at the Elf Air desk at a secret terminal at Schipol Airport just outside Amsterdam. This year I had the privilege of travelling on one of Santa’s new Airbus A380’s, a converted passenger plane that allows Santa, when required, to expedite the shipment of thousands of parcels to any one of his Present Distribution Hubs located in strategic locations around the world. The plane I travelled on, call sign ELF020, was one of a fleet of ten aircraft that Santa had chartered for the 2014 holiday season. 16 hours after leaving the UK I was checking into the North Pole Ice Hotel, a stone’s throw from the entrance to Santa’s primary toy manufacturing and distribution facility. I decided to get an early night as I knew the following day would be quite busy! The next day I walked across to Santa’s factory and I was whisked up to the executive briefing centre where I was introduced to Santa’s board members. Five minutes later and the main man himself walked through the frosted glass doors to the board room. Following introductions, Santa’s Chief Elf Information Officer provided an update on their current IT and B2B related projects. I have documented many of these projects quite extensively in the earlier articles which I listed at the beginning of this blog. Needless to say I was very impressed by the ROI that Santa had obtained by deploying OpenText Managed Services. Santa’s core B2B platform, the Present Delivery Network (shown above), processes billions of transactions each year and over the last five years, Santa had seen a 40% growth in new present orders through SantaNet, a web form based toy ordering environment that our company setup in 2008. The growth in new orders had come from the so called omni-channel effect with children placing toy orders through PCs, mobiles and tablet based devices. In addition to deploying a world leading B2B platform, Santa’s team rolled out their ‘Internet of Santa’s Things’ infrastructure, a high profile initiative to provide improved visibility across Santa’s Present Delivery Network. The Internet of Things has become one of the most talked about disruptive digital technologies of 2014, and Santa had no concerns about deploying his IoST environment and he certainly proved to be a digital trail blazer in this particular area. In addition, Santa had embraced a number of other disruptive technologies during 2014. Last year I discussed how Santa’s elves were using Google Glass in their warehouses to improve their toy pick rates. In addition to Glass, Santa had tested some other high profile disruptive technologies. A few years ago Santa invited Steve Jobs to his factory and following lengthy discussions Santa Claus Enterprises became a leading member of Apple’s beta test program. As soon as the early iWatch wearable devices were revealed to the world’s media in 2014, Apple despatched a shipment of iWatches for every elf in the factory. These came pre-loaded with a number of festive mobile apps to help improve the day to day efficiency of Santa’s team of elves. 3D printing was rolled out across Santa’s production department, not just for manufacturing proof of concept toy designs but to build scale models of new sleigh designs that would then be refined in Santa’s onsite wind tunnel. Sleigh research budgets have increased significantly over the years and 3D printing was helping to develop the most aerodynamically refined sleigh in the world. The final area of digital disruption that Santa embraced in 2014 was advanced robotics. Santa had heard that Foxconn, a leading contract manufacturer to Apple, was deploying up to a million ‘Foxbots’ across their manufacturing operations. Santa decided that he wanted to deploy ‘Elfbots’ to bring similar efficiencies to his own production operations. Santa is now working with Andy Rubin, head of Google’s newly formed robotics division, to define a development plan for his network of 2,000 Elfbots. Santa has done a great job of ensuring that he can seamlessly connect with the little children around the world. So in many ways Santa’s operations were already significantly digitally enabled but now that GXS had been acquired by OpenText there was scope for the deployment of further digital information tools. After all, many of the new disruptive technologies such as connected IoST devices were producing high volumes of unstructured data that would need to be archived, analysed and acted upon as required. After the CEIO had provided his updates it was time for me to take to the floor. I provided Santa and the board with a high level introduction to OpenText and they were very impressed with the joint customer base and the opportunities available to embrace new Enterprise Information Management solutions. Even though Santa had consolidated many back end business systems, such as his Elf Resources Platform (ERP), there were still many different information silos located within the various departments of his operations. Just finding the right information at the right time proved to be a challenge on occasions. To gain further efficiencies across Santa’s operations it would be important to ensure that all departments could feed off of a centralised digital information hub. This hub would be accessible any time, any place or anywhere, useful considering the global nature and complexity of Santa’s operations. OpenText solutions are divided across five key ‘pillars’, shown by way of the chart below, Santa’s B2B solutions are under the Information Exchange pillar. Before I had even explained each of the five solution pillars, Santa could immediately see that there was a significant opportunity to increase the footprint of OpenText solutions across his business. Santa said that he would like OpenText to become his trusted guide during his journey into the digital first world. But first he wanted me to highlight how OpenText could manage different types of information from the key stages of a toy’s lifecycle. I created the chart below to help illustrate some of the key process stages across Santa’s manufacturing operations. I have also overlaid, where appropriate the five key solution pillars as they apply to each stage of the lifecycle of a toy (which in reality could represent any manufactured product). Now I could go into detail around how OpenText can help manage information across each of these twelve process steps, but for the purposes of this article, let me just expand on five of these. Toy Design & Engineering – At this phase of a toy’s lifecycle, any information associated with the design of a toy will need to be centrally managed and archived in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution. Typical files managed at this stage include 3D CADCAM models, 3D printer files, 2D drawings, production related information and high quality rendered images and 3D animations. A Digital Asset Management solution from OpenText would allow Santa’s marketing elves and outside PR agencies to review and download high quality rendered images and videos for use in promotional materials. Information Exchange (IX), solutions such as Managed File Transfer, allows Santa’s design elves to send large file size design information anywhere across the external enterprise, including contract manufacturers. Procurement / Supplier Onboarding – This is part of the toy’s lifecycle that GXS, now Information Exchange, has been supporting over the past few years, from on-boarding suppliers and ensuring they can exchange B2B transactions electronically to providing back end integration to Santa’s ERP platform. In addition, it is important for a procurement team to work collaboratively with their suppliers and all proposal, contract and contact information will need to be centrally managed. The procurement elves may need to undertake some form of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) assessments across their trading partner community. The area of GRC is becoming an increasingly important area for many companies and new regulations such as conflict minerals compliance needs to be adhered to and managed in an effective way. Just as an aside, Santa takes Corporate Social Responsibility really seriously, so much so that he would like to setup an Elf Information Management System (EIMS) to help with the day to day management of his elves and ensure the quality of their welfare whilst working in the toy factory. Plant Maintenance and Asset Management – Santa has an army of elves conducting proactive maintenance on shop floor related manufacturing and assembly equipment. Given the tight production schedule that Santa has each year, his elves ideally need quick access to maintenance and machine test procedures, 2D maintenance drawings and equipment test and compliance certificates. Even ensuring that Santa’s elves adhere to the latest Elf and Safety procedures has become a challenge over the years. The elves already have access to ruggedized tablet devices for use on the shop floor. Using Appworks, OpenText’s mobile app development platform, Santa’s elves would be able to get remote access to any information archived in the central content management system. In addition, the elves need to follow a standard process for maintaining each piece of equipment and OpenText’s Business Process Management (BPM) solution would be able to more effectively manage all the process steps involved with maintaining Santa’s production equipment. Can you imagine what would happen on the 24th December each year if the toy production lines are halted due to a malfunctioning assembly robot? Online Customer Experience – The SantaNet portal had worked well over the years and allowed the little children of the world to login to a portal and submit their present wish lists! At this stage of the toy’s lifecycle, various web related assets will need to be created and managed, eg product brochures, toy promotion videos and animations will need to be accessed by different elves across the extended enterprise and outside video production agencies. OpenText Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions are ideal for this purpose. Given the connected nature of today’s children, Santa would be able to setup a best in class ‘Young Person Experience Management’ offering that would leverage OpenText’s Web Experience Management offering. In addition, all other internal websites used by his elves could be upgraded with the latest portal technologies offered by OpenText. Recalls and Warranty Repair – The final stage of a toy’s lifecycle relates to the potential recall or repair of toys. Unfortunately not every toy delivered via the chimney makes it safely down to the fireplace and breakages can occur. Santa established a toy repair and recall centre ten years ago however many of the processes used to recover broken toys from the world’s children are quite lengthy and prone to delays due to the amount of manual paperwork that needs to be processed. In addition to repairs, sometimes toys have to be recalled, perhaps due to poor quality workmanship by Santa’s elves. Whether repairing broken toys or recalling faulty toys, Santa’s elves could significantly improve operational efficiencies by deploying OpenText’s Business Process Management (BPM) solution. BPM will ensure that every toy that needs to be repaired or recalled follows a strict series of process steps. This ensures that a consistent and repeatable repair/recall process can be established and this helps to improve Child Satisfaction Levels, a key metric used by Santa to keep the world’s children happy with their toys. In addition to providing an overview of these five solution areas, I explained to Santa that OpenText was looking at how the different pillar solutions could be integrated together. I also showed a new fast moving video which helps to describe the OpenText Cloud. To wrap up my presentation to Santa and the board I also discussed new development areas and highlighted a recent announcement concerning OpenText’s intention to acquire the business intelligence company, Actuate. Last year when I visited Santa Claus Enterprises HQ, I was shown the latest beta version of SantaPad, a Big Data analytics engine for processing toy consumption trends across the little boys and girls of the world. Actuate could potentially provide the business intelligence platform to significantly improve the big data analytics capabilities across Santa’s operations. Santa was so excited by this news that he requested a briefing of Actuate’s capabilities, as and when it was convenient for OpenText to do so. We had just gone over our two hour presentation slot with Santa and I decided to summarise how OpenText helps businesses move to a 100% digital business. Firstly OpenText can help to Simplify Santa’s back end platforms to manage enterprise wide business information, irrespective of which application the information was originally created in. Secondly, OpenText can help to Transform information from literally any format to another and ensure that digital information can be exchanged both internally across the elf community and externally across third party contract manufacturers and logistics providers. Thirdly, OpenText can help to Accelerate the adoption of digital technologies, which would allow faster business decisions to be made. Santa’s operations would ultimately become more responsive to changing consumer demand and increased competition from new emerging toy markets. This brought our meeting to a close and I had a number of actions to follow up on with my colleagues back at OpenText! In closing, Santa wished OpenText and our global customers Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year and he said he was looking forward to working closely with OpenText during 2015 and beyond. So it just leaves me to say season’s greetings and best of luck for 2015!  

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Enterprise World 2014 – Digital Disruption Across Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Supply Chains


OpenText hosted Enterprise World 2014 in Orlando last week, our main customer focused conference for the year. With nearly 2000 attendees, the event was a huge success and it provided the ideal opportunity for our customers to learn more about how OpenText will be helping companies develop a digital first strategy. OpenText also unveiled a number of exciting cloud based announcements as well as provide an opportunity to showcase enhancements to our Enterprise Information Management suite of product offerings. There was also a very strong industry focus at this year’s event and it provided me with the opportunity to define my vision of how digital disruption would impact tomorrow’s manufacturing supply chains. I wanted to use this blog entry to highlight some of the key messages from this particular session. I began the session by describing some of the macro-economic trends that were impacting today’s manufacturing industry. From globalisation to consumer driven product innovation, today’s manufacturers are quickly restructuring their supply chains to accommodate future growth and new digital trends. Much of this growth will occur in a new set of emerging markets collectively known as the MINT, (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) countries. For the past decade companies have focused on the BRIC countries and now they have the MINT countries to contend with! You can find out more about the MINT countries through one of my earlier blog entries. I then went on to discuss the evolution of the digital manufacturing business, this was an area that I discussed quite extensively in an earlier blog entry, click here.  I wanted to try and highlight that the manufacturing industry has seen pockets of ‘digital innovation’ evolve over the years, however most of this digital innovation has centred around information that has originated from the design department. The design department has essentially provided the central hub from which various departments across a manufacturing business have utilised digital information. I then went on to explain how digital information powers the integrated value chain and how Enterprise Information Management solutions from OpenText can help to manage all types of digital information across the entire lifecycle of a manufactured product.  I explained how at a simplistic level, an end to end product lifecycle could be broken down into twelve key process steps. From managing digital information at the market / customer requirements stage, through to production and aftermarket support, each stage of the process generates different types of digital information that needs to be managed, archived and potentially exchanged across a digital supply chain. I will expand on this concept in a future blog entry but you can see at a high level below how I have mapped across OpenText’s key solutions across each step of a product’s lifecycle, further details on this are available via the SlideShare link at the end of this blog. Following this discussion I went on to discuss the future of the digital manufacturing business and in particular how key technologies being introduced today would impact digital manufacturing strategies of the future. For the past few years manufacturers have been embracing cloud based ERP, PLM and B2B solutions, but moving forwards CIOs across the manufacturing industry will have to support a broad range of digital information coming from a variety of different sources. I highlighted five of the more popular technologies that were getting a lot of air time in the media at the moment. For example: Wearable devices such as Google Glass and how they will help in for example the warehouse and logistics management space How 3D printing was likely to revolutionise manufacturing and see ‘zero length’ supply chains being introduced Deployment of advanced robotics platforms such as ‘Baxter’ and the so called ‘Fox Bots’ to automate manual production processes Introduction of drone based logistics and how they will potentially improve the efficiency of short distance delivery networks The Internet of Things and how it was likely to impact the design of future B2B platforms and improve the efficiency of supply chain networks The Internet of Things was the last area that I covered in my presentation and this was probably the most significant from a digital disruption point of view. I have discussed the IoT in earlier blog entries, most recent example is shown here, and what I wanted to do for this presentation was provide a point of view for how B2B, EIM and IoT will work together in future manufacturing environments. I used the graphic below to try and provide a high level view of what a future manufacturing business could look like with digital information being both visible and accessible from one end of the manufacturing supply chain to the other. The grey area depicts the traditional information management space that OpenText has served over recent years.  The blue area highlights the external connectivity and exchange of digital information, provided by GXS and EasyLink, across the extended enterprise, and the orange section highlights the information that will be coming into the enterprise from thousands of connected devices that will be connected to digital business networks in the future. I had some great feedback from this presentation at Enterprise World and it certainly helped provide attendees with a vision of how OpenText can help manufacturers fight their way through the complexity of managing digital information in the future. If you would like to see my entire presentation from Enterprise World, then please click on the following link to view the SlideShare based presentation. Enterprise World 2014 – Manufacturing Industry Breakout Session from Mark Morley The post Enterprise World 2014 – Digital Disruption Across Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Supply Chains appeared first on All About B2B.

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