Mark Morley

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.

OpenText Business Network at Enterprise World 2017, Focused Around YOU!

B2B

Enterprise World 2017 is the premier B2B and Secure Information Exchange event you don’t want to miss. Attend to join hundreds of your industry peers and solution experts who will explore the future of supply chain and B2B integration services. Gain practical insights, best practices and lessons learned from today’s leaders. With full dedicated Business Network tracks, including keynotes and technical sessions, Enterprise World 2017 is an event focused on YOU. My colleague Marco De Vries introduced Business Network’s participation at Enterprise World a few week’s ago. At Enterprise World you will be able to learn more about the extensive enhancements we have recently introduced to Business Network and to take a sneak peak at the new capabilities that will be on show in the expo hall area at Enterprise World, here is a short video explaining our latest enhancements. The expo hall is a great location to visit at Enterprise World as it allows you to interact with our Business Network solutions and you can speak with our team of experts who will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Business Network will feature six demonstration pods in the expo hall area this year, and each of these pods is described below. Whether you are looking to deploy an on-premises, cloud or hybrid based B2B or secure information exchange environment, the following demonstration pods will help you explore these options: Enterprise Fax – Understand the core capabilities of our RightFax solution Secure Cloud Messaging – Explore how Fax2Mail & Notifications can benefit your business B2B Integration – Learn about some of our key B2B integration solutions such as Trading Grid Online, Active Documents, ANX and BizManager B2B Managed Services – Learn about the eight core components of B2B Managed Services and the benefits that companies can obtain by outsourcing their B2B integration to a trusted partner Business Network Analytics – Discover how analytics are leveraged across several Business Network product offerings, namely Trading Grid Analytics, Fax, Notifications and Active Documents. So if you need deep insights into what is going on across your business then this is definitely the demonstration pod to visit! Digital Supply Chain – Get an overview of our suite of Active Applications, namely Active Orders, Active Invoices with Compliance and Active Community In addition to the 26 breakout sessions that make up the Business Network track, we will also be presenting a number of short presentations in the mini theatres located in the expo hall. The exact agenda for all these sessions is still to be confirmed but the sessions will expand on some of the great content being shown in the main breakout sessions. Finally, don’t forget to join the OpenText crew in our Innovation Lab, where visitors have the opportunity to evaluate innovative new designs and collaborate with OpenText user experience designers and researchers. This year, Business Network will be showcasing: Trading Grid Online and Active Community redesign Intelligent Web Forms redesign with new user interface and enhanced user experience for web forms access RightFax, Fax2Mail and Notifications analytics Trading Partner graph for a visual representation of your community, who trades with whom, using what protocols, and what document types Our event this year will be held in Toronto, Canada, and if you are interested in learning more about how Business Network can support your B2B integration needs today and in the future then I would suggest taking a look at our registration page which can be accessed below. I hope to see you in Toronto in July!

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New IDC Study – 66% Would use B2B Outsourcing to Support Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

Over the past few months I have posted several blogs relating to digital transformation across the supply chain. My last blog discussed how OpenText’s Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions could potentially support an Internet of Things (IoT) platform and an article on Spend Matters looked at how B2B integration and B2B Managed Services are a core part of today’s digital transformation projects. So what’s driving this interest in digital transformation?  After all ‘digital’ emerged in the 1980s but this time around companies around the world and in different industries seem to be taking it more seriously. Why? Customers are driving the need. At OpenText I have met supply chain executives around the world and the subject of digital transformation is a hot topic, especially as it allows companies to leverage new and exciting technologies such as IoT and wearable devices. In customer meetings two key trends started to emerge, firstly companies were keen on establishing a ‘digital backbone’ across their business (to integrate external trading partners to internal business systems) and secondly companies wanted to consider outsourcing the management of their B2B integration platform so that they could focus internal IT resources on new digital transformation projects. Last year this got me thinking, does digital transformation drive supply chain transformation? Certainly an interesting theory and one that I was keen to explore in more detail. Over the years we have completed research projects with the analyst firm IDC so I was only too pleased to engage with IDC on a new study relating to digital transformation in the supply chain. The timing for this study was perfect, not only from a market interest perspective, but digital transformation is a key focus for OpenText and through this study I wanted to prove that B2B Managed Services could support digital transformation initiatives. I want to use this blog to highlight some of the key findings from the study. Due to the large amount of survey data obtained from this particular study I will post further blogs by different industry sectors, regional aspects and also the technologies being adopted today. So where shall I start? Last December we worked with IDC to send out a survey to 254 companies across five different industries and seven countries around the world. I wanted to test the hypothesis of whether digital transformation was driving supply chain restructuring initiatives. Over the years we have found that when companies restructure their supply chains they will consider outsourcing their B2B integration so they can focus on the restructuring process at hand. Overall, digital transformation was widely known, as a definition, across nearly all the companies surveyed, only 7% were not sure what digital transformation actually entailed. 57% of respondents said that their business had appointed a Chief Digital Officer (CDO), however some believe this is more of a transitional type of role as it is expected that the traditional CIO role will absorb this activity moving forwards. However when you look at the role of the CIO in recent years it was about ensuring for example that an ERP system goes live on time or a new warehouse management system could connect into various supply chain solutions. Today, and maybe this is why the CDO role has emerged, the CIO has to embrace new types of networks, new types of devices connected to these networks, and new types of information coming off these devices that needs to be processed, analyzed and then archived. In terms of the maturity of digital transformation projects, the survey had a range of results from 36% of respondents saying they considered themselves as a ‘Digital Transformer’ (business is a leader in its markets, providing world-class digital products, services, and experiences) to only 8% who said they considered themselves as a ‘Digital Resister’ (business is a laggard, providing weak customer experiences and using digital technology only to counter threats). So clearly there is more work to be done to help companies move along the digital transformation maturity curve and of course OpenText is here to help. The interesting observation in the enterprise world is that there are five pieces of disruptive technology that have been embraced more than other technologies and these same technologies are driving consumer driven markets as well. For the purposes of this study we wanted to understand which technologies were being adopted across supply chains and how these adoption rates would grow over the next three years. The table below provides an idea of the technologies that we surveyed against as part of the study, this chart shows technology adoption at the time the study was conducted in December 2016. From a technology adoption point of view there were some interesting observations. 70% of respondents said they were using B2B cloud networks today, interesting given that cloud really started to go mainstream in 2010. After cloud, IoT projects were the next most important investment area but interestingly machine learning and artificial intelligence is going to have the fastest growth rate over the next three years. Some other observations: The great thing about this study was that it was cross industry and covered the main industrial centers around the world. Given IoT is one of the main focus areas I thought it would be interesting to highlight the benefits that companies in different countries have realized from this disruptive technology. The table below ranks the benefits of IoT across some of the countries surveyed as part of this project. In addition to regional cuts of the survey data, there are detailed findings at an industry level. The chart below shows three of the five main industries that were surveyed and the expected benefits these industries have realized with the deployment of IoT based solutions across their supply chains. Needless to say many hours could be spent analyzing all the technology adoption levels by different countries and different industry sectors! So then moving on to how digital transformation is driving supply chain related restructuring initiatives, once again some really interesting findings as can be seen by the following statistics. In order for companies to implement new digital transformation strategies, the survey demonstrated that there is a certain amount of preparation or IT restructuring that has to take place before new technologies can be deployed across a supply chain. However to ensure that companies can focus on this restructuring and then implement these technologies with ease, there are certain business activities, such as B2B integration, that could be outsourced to a trusted partner. In analyst related studies there is usually a ‘golden nugget’ of information that helps to justify the whole research project. So when we asked the question about whether outsourcing the management of B2B integration would help free up internal resources to focus on new digital transformation initiatives, we found a surprising result. 66% of respondents said they would consider outsourcing their B2B integration to a trusted partner. This was an interesting study for another reason, it demonstrated that companies were thinking about their EDI or B2B integration strategy when considering the adoption of new leading edge technologies such as IoT and machine learning. This also helped to demonstrate that EDI was in the next stage of its evolution, a journey that has lasted more than 45 years so far. I have only scraped the surface in this blog with some of the results from this new study and I have more blogs planned that will provide further technology and industry specific insights from our new study, as well as webinars in the near future with IDC to discuss the findings. In the meantime if you would like to download a copy of this new IDC study then you can do so here.

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Establishing a Supply Chain Focused IoT Platform

IoT in the Supply Chain

Over the last few years I have been posting blogs on how the Internet of Things will impact future supply chain operations. More recently I discussed IoT in the context of digital transformation. The term ‘IoT Platform’ has just started to enter the vocabulary of the CIO and I thought I would use this blog to explain how I believe OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions could underpin and support an IoT based platform strategy. Ever since cloud-based solutions started to go mainstream in around 2011, there have been numerous attempts to define cloud-based ‘platforms’. Some platforms offer cloud-based ‘brokerage’ services, others offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). Gartner defined the term ‘integration brokerage’, a term which nicely encapsulates the various B2B solutions that are offered today by OpenText™ Business Network, the world’s largest cloud-based B2B integration platform. With OpenText offering many different cloud-based solutions today, I thought it would be interesting to share my own views on how OpenText EIM solutions could support a new emerging type of cloud platform, the IoT platform. For the purposes of this blog I am going to refer to the term IoT, but of course over the last four years a number of regional derivatives of this term have emerged, and the market seems to be struggling to find the perfect term that is universally accepted: Internet of Things (IoT): this is the most popular term in use today and was originally defined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 as part of his research at the AutoID Center Internet of Everything (IoE): introduced by Cisco in 2013 to reflect the people and process aspects of IoT Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): introduced by GE and other North American industrial companies in 2013, GE Digital was formed to develop the smart industrial environment of the future Industry4.0: introduced in 2013 by industrial companies in Germany such as Bosch and Siemens to reflect the fourth industrial revolution and the need to have a more process centric IoT environment Industrial Value Chain: introduced in 2015 by companies in Japan, looking to develop their own standard for connected devices across industrial applications Internet Plus: introduced in 2015 by Chinese based companies, once again keen to develop their own approach to leveraging the information coming from connected devices So as you can see above, even before we standardize on how information is captured from connected devices, how it is transmitted and how it is archived, I think we need a common naming approach to what we are actually dealing with here! As I said above, for the purposes of this blog I am going to simply refer to this as IoT. IoT is certainly one of the hot investment areas at the moment, touching nearly every industry sector in some way and new use cases for IoT seem to be appearing on an almost daily basis. A few weeks ago I saw a post from IDC where they estimated by 2025 there will be 163 zeta bytes of information being processed in some shape or form. Even today there are varying estimates of exactly how many connected devices there will be in the future, Cisco for example estimates that 12.2 billion devices will be connected by 2020 and Gartner estimated (on a joint webinar with OpenText) there will be around 21 billion connected devices by 2020, so I guess you could ask just how long is piece of string! OpenText recently completed a digital transformation related study with IDC, (which you can download here), the study looked to see whether new digital transformation projects such as IoT would kick-start new transformation initiatives across the supply chain. We surveyed 254 companies across seven countries and four different industries and the IoT related responses were certainly interesting as you can see below. I will provide more details on this study at a later date and I will expand on some of the IoT use cases highlighted in the table below in future blog posts relating to how supply chains can leverage an IoT platform. Question: With specific regard to the internet of things (IoT), and the use of sensors, what type of supply chain processes (or use cases) would provide the most benefit for your organization? For this particular blog I want to focus on what all these billions of devices will be connected to, from a platform point of view, and what will happen to the zeta bytes of data that will come off these devices. How will enterprise systems be able to leverage this information?, how can it be used to look for trends?, and more importantly how can it be used to streamline supply chain processes? After all, at the end of the day investing in IoT may seem like a step in the dark for many companies but it can provide significant ROI if deployed effectively. More on the benefits and ROI of IoT in a future blog. I have been following the IoT sector fairly closely over the past 4 years, since I attended an IoT World Forum Conference hosted by Cisco in 2013. However it is only in the last 12 months that IoT conversations have been turning towards establishing IoT platforms and how these can effectively act as the middle layer between the connected devices and business or supply chain process that is being improved or optimized. Early last year I spent a few hours discussing supply chain focused use cases for IoT with Gartner and how B2B Managed Services could provide the integration requirements to support an IoT enabled supply chain. He understood how our EIM solutions could help enable an IoT platform. This particular conversation led to a webinar last October which looked at the key trends in the IoT sector and what technologies an IoT platform should ideally consist of. The five key cornerstones, as discussed by Gartner in the webinar, that underpin an IoT platform, consist of device management, information management, analytics, integration and security. In my view, OpenText is in a strong position to support an IoT platform with the various solutions that we have in our EIM portfolio. OpenText could potentially partner with say, a telco provider for edge connectivity, as other vendors have done, but we can provide web and mobile app development solutions to help remotely login and configure connected devices to partially cover the device management cornerstone. The table below highlights how the six key components of OpenText’s EIM portfolio could potentially support an IoT platform strategy. In order for an IoT platform to be able to support supply chain business processes, you need to ensure that all digital information, both structured and unstructured, coming from the trading partner community can be stored in what can best be described as a ‘supply chain data lake’. OpenText Business Network already has a cloud-based data lake, hosted in our data center, which stores the B2B transactions as they move across our network. This allows companies to analyze these transactions and identify performance trends across the supply chain. For more information on this take a look at our Trading Grid Analytics web page. So let me now explain how a data lake which can accept different types of supply chain information could evolve. The figure above illustrates my interpretation of what a ‘supply chain data lake’ could look like, it highlights the type of information, both structured and unstructured that could enter the lake, and then it highlights how our EIM solutions could leverage this information in different ways across the business to help drive IoT enabled supply chain processes. Let me just expand on the different sections that make up this diagram. The first step is to ensure that you can receive information electronically from trading partners across your end-to- end supply chain. This will involve digitally enabling every trading partner, but it is more than this as every connected device, from the vehicles delivering finished goods to customers, down to the pallets carrying the goods will need to be remotely connected to the IoT platform. This allows a macro level of supply chain visibility to be achieved. Deciding what supply chain assets need to be connected to the IoT platform, what type of information needs to be obtained from the connected device, what B2B transactions need to be accessed and what you actually want to measure will then determine the type of analysis and reporting that can be achieved. The next step is to drip feed the data into the supply chain data lake. In addition to B2B transactions, and sensor based information, the lake could be populated with many other types of structured and unstructured information. For example, social media or website information relating to the service availability of key 3PL providers and inventory data from every connected asset involved with the movement of goods across an end-to-end supply chain. Multi-media data such as videos highlighting damaged goods from a supplier or perhaps new regulatory data that will impact the compliance reporting of a trading partner community. If all of this information can be placed in a centralized supply chain data lake then it can be acted upon as required by different stakeholders in the business. The third step leverages the EIM based solutions to analyze and review the information held within the supply chain data lake so that some form of process can be initiated across the supply chain. Consider this section of the diagram as an oil rig (EIM solutions) sitting on top of a valuable seam of oil (data) waiting to be extracted. Each of the EIM solutions has its role to play in processing information from the supply chain data lake, whether using Business Network to transfer information into a back end enterprise system such as ERP or using analytics to identify some form of performance trend that needs to be acted upon. Finally the IoT platform will be accessed by key stakeholders across the business, users in the procurement, manufacturing and logistics functions for example. They could leverage this information in many different ways but there are some important supply chain related use cases for how a globally accessible and fully integrated IoT platform could optimize supply chain processes. In the Gartner webinar that I highlighted earlier I discussed how an EIM-based IoT environment could support three supply chain related processes, namely Pervasive Visibility, Proactive Replenishment or Predictive Maintenance. I am going to expand on these three areas in my next blog.

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Learn About the Future of the Digital Supply Chain at Enterprise World 2017

Digital

Over the past four months I have been busy supporting our Innovation Tour events. Starting off in Sydney last November, then on to Singapore, Tokyo, London, Paris, Munich, Stockholm and finally Eindhoven last week. The events were a big success and we had a significant increase in attendees compared to similar events we held early last year.The Innovation Tour events are a single day format with keynotes and guest speakers in the morning and then the afternoon is broken out into product or solution specific tracks. I supported our Business Network track at some of the events and we had around three to four presentations with various customer presentations weaved into the agendas. Business Network has come a long way since GXS and EasyLink were acquired by OpenText and these events provide an ideal platform to update our customers on the investments we have made and to provide some insights into our future direction. It is certainly an exciting time to be at OpenText, especially with new digital technologies being top of mind for many CIOs around the world. No sooner do I get back from our last event in Eindhoven, we are now heads down planning for our next event, our global customer conference, Enterprise World 2017,  in Toronto in July. This will be my fourth Enterprise World and each year the event grows exponentially in size. The event runs over a few days and the format of the event is essentially an extended version of our Innovation Tour one day events, but with a lot more activities thrown in for good measure. I will explain some of those activities in a moment. OpenText has made over 50 acquisitions in its 25 year history and these acquisitions underpin our Enterprise Information Management strategy to enable companies to digitize information flowing across their business and extended enterprise. Each of these acquisitions has been placed into one of the following six product divisions across our company. At Enterprise World we will effectively have an ‘event within an event’ and Business Network will have nearly thirty breakout sessions. This is a really comprehensive series of presentations, mostly focused on product and solution offerings but we will also be delivering some key sessions relating to the future of the supply chain and providing insights relating to a new digital transformation survey from IDC. As with last year’s event I seem to have been handed multiple plates to spin for this event, but I just wanted to provide some insight into five of the sessions I will be hosting at Enterprise World 2017. Session 1 – Over several decades, OpenText™ Business Network has evolved to embrace new standards, new technologies and new ways of working with customers and trading partners. Over the past 12 months Business Network has introduced many new capabilities to improve how we both deploy and manage your end-to-end information exchange and integration requirements. However there are new technologies such as cognitive analytics, Blockchain and Industry 4.0/IoT on the horizon, and Business Network will continue evolving to embrace new technologies and new ways of working. This session will provide insights on some of these new technologies and how OpenText sees them fitting into our evolving Business Network. Session 2 – OpenText recently sponsored a study from the analyst firm IDC to understand whether new digital technologies were leading to new supply chain transformation initiatives across a company. From drones and wearable devices to Industry 4.0, today’s CIOs are spending billions of dollars looking for ways to embrace these technologies across their respective businesses. I recently posted a blog on these technologies. This is leading to a need to modernize ICT and B2B infrastructures, establish new digital back bones and somehow manage these new digital initiatives while at the same time manage complex B2B environments. B2B Managed Services can not only provide a digital backbone which seamlessly integrates external trading partners to internal enterprise systems, it can also provide additional resources to manage your B2B environment leaving you to focus on managing your business and rolling out new digital initiatives across the extended enterprise. This session will provide key insights from the study. Session 3 – Trading Grid Analytics delivers powerful intelligence for your business to optimize supply chain efficiencies, spot opportunities, and mitigate risks, before they disrupt your business. Big Data and the Digital Supply Chain are two leading disruptive forces facing companies today. According to Gartner, “Analytics top the list of important initiatives for supply chain organizations to ensure their ability to support digital business.” This session will provide an overview of the key capabilities of Trading Grid Analytics and how it can offer deeper insights into what is going on across your end to end supply chain. Session 4 – Your business is faced with multiple demands and challenges. Whether internal initiatives, such as ERP consolidation; go-to-market strategies, such as M&A activity or channel expansion; or external forces and mandates, such as electronic invoice compliance, your resources are stretched thin. Attend this session to learn how OpenText B2B Managed Services can help your organization turn these challenges into opportunity and competitive advantage and shield your business from the complexities of B2B integration allowing you to focus on your core business activities. Session 5 – If your business runs SAP, then you have made a significant investment in an ERP system that simplifies how you manage your business operations. But how do you ensure that your extended enterprise and external trading partners can leverage this investment as well? This session will explain the benefits of integrating your SAP and B2B platforms together and how SAP’s endorsement of B2B Managed Services simplifies this process. This session will also explore how SAP is leveraging other Business Network capabilities such as global e-invoice compliance, notifications, and cloud fax to enhance SAP’s solution offerings. Now I have only covered five of the sessions I will be presenting at Enterprise World 2017, we have many more for you to attend!, more details on those in future blogs. In addition to these breakout sessions there are many other activities that you can participate in, for example industry breakouts, live product and solution overviews in our expo hall and a chance to test drive new product enhancements in our developer lab. Our event this year will be held in Toronto, Canada, and if you are interested in learning more about how Business Network can support your B2B integration needs today and in the future then I would suggest taking a look at our registration page which can be accessed below. I hope to see you in Toronto in July!

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How Supply Chains are Embracing Digital Disruption

Digital

Many companies today are beginning to embrace the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ where ‘hyper connected’ production and supply chain environments will transform companies into digital businesses. These latest disruptive technologies can be broadly split into three categories. Firstly, new networks such as 5G mobile networks, Internet of Things related platforms, and other cloud-based network infrastructures. Secondly, new types of devices being connected to these networks, namely 3D printers, advanced robotics, drones and, of course, Internet of Things devices. Thirdly, new types of information coming off of these connected devices, data which can be archived and analyzed to obtain deeper insights into what is happening across an end to end supply chain. To understand how new digital transformation initiatives could affect supply chain operations, OpenText recently commissioned the analyst firm IDC to conduct a survey in this area. We had a great response to the survey with cross industry and cross region insights which I will be sharing via several blogs over the next few months. I am only going to share one key statistic from the new study here, and that is from the 250 companies surveyed, 56% said they had already appointed a Chief Digital Officer.  We asked IDC to test a specific hypothesis to see whether ‘new digital technologies would lead to new supply chain transformation initiatives’. If true, then it presents an opportunity for companies to consider outsourcing their B2B integration requirements while they focus on deploying their new digital projects. As part of the survey, we obtained the latest adoption patterns on new digital technologies, such as drones, IoT and wearable devices and we will share these and other findings from this interesting study over the coming months. There are five disruptive technologies that are gaining more coverage in the industrial media than others at the moment, drone-based technologies, 3D printers, wearable devices, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things. Our new IDC study looked at adoption rates for these technologies and many more technologies such as machine learning, especially in relation to supply chain operations. Why are these five technologies getting more coverage than other disruptive technologies? Well firstly all of the aforementioned technologies are being targeted at both the consumer and enterprise space, so for example you can purchase a 3D printer or robotic hoover for the home, and similar technologies are starting to be introduced to the enterprise. This is not the first time that consumer-based technologies have entered the work environment. Over recent years CIOs have had to adjust their corporate strategies to support ‘bring your own device’ based technologies brought into the enterprise by employees. So how are these five disruptive technology areas being deployed across the enterprise today? Drone Based Technologies – This technology has been getting a lot of coverage in the press in recent years, all for the wrong reasons. The drone device market has been impacted by various lobbying groups concerned by their safety and of course privacy as they fly across city centres. Local governments have been quick to establish no fly ‘drone zones’ over cities around the world, even before the economic benefit of these devices can be properly determined. Companies such as Amazon and their Prime Air drone has got the most press coverage with their drones which can deliver small packages to consumers. This ‘last mile’ delivery of packages is an increasingly important area of development for third party logistics providers. DHL is one of the first 3PL providers to leverage this technology to deliver medicines to remote islands in the Far East where there is not enough space for traditional aircraft runways. There are initiatives underway to define air corridors for air-based drone devices, but of course drones don’t have to be limited to the air. Starship Technologies for example has developed a small autonomous vehicle that has a payload capacity to carry two shopping bags. The intention is that this small vehicle can deliver shopping ordered by a consumer and deliver to their home address. But what if you could use the same technology to deliver small components from automotive suppliers located on a supplier park near to a major automotive OEM? Supplier parks are being established in all the major automotive hubs around the world today and these types of autonomous drone devices could help to streamline the delivery efficiency of parts to car manufacturers in support of their Just-In-Time production environments. Drone based technologies are still relatively new, however they offer some unique capabilities to support today’s production and aftermarket retail sectors. Audi for example are starting factory tests of drones to deliver parts from inventory locations to trackside for fitting to vehicles. 3D Printing Technologies – 3D printing technologies are not new and in fact much of the early research into this area actually started in the early 1990’s. Back then it was known as stereolithography or rapid prototyping, both terms being used to describe the layer by layer curing of plastic based materials to create a 3D object. Today, the technology is being developed at a rapid pace, not just with the printing technology but the materials used as part of the printing process. From an automotive production point of view, extensive research is being undertaken in the use of metal-based 3D printing processes as these offer the greatest advancement in terms of both reducing production times and increasing customer satisfaction in the aftermarket service sector. On the production side, manufacturers such as VW Group are already producing 3D metal parts, initially on concept cars being exhibited at motor shows such as Geneva. 3D printing is actually transforming the design and engineering of tomorrow’s vehicles as more and more parts are being identified for ‘design for replacement’. So for example if a car goes in for a service and a broken support bracket needs to be replaced, rather than ordering a new bracket from a supplier, the replacement bracket can be 3D printed in the dealer service centre and then fitted to the car being repaired. This introduces the concept of the ‘zero length supply chain’, where parts can be 3D printed on demand and no 3PLs are involved in the delivery of replacement parts. This is likely to transform the automotive aftermarket service sector. One manufacturer, Local Motors in North America is pushing 3D printing technologies to its limit by manufacturing an entire vehicle using 3D printing processes. Local Motors could be considered as an automotive industry disruptor in a similar way to Tesla Motors. Whereas Tesla has cornered the market in the premium electric vehicle market, Local Motors looks set to transform the modular construction of vehicles using new 3D printing technologies. Wearable Technologies – In recent years there has been a trend to develop mobile apps for enterprise smart phones and tablet devices however now there is an increasing trend to develop apps for wearable technologies as well. The adoption of wearable technologies in the consumer sector has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. Technologies such as Apple’s Watch, Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glass have been getting the most attention from the enterprise and this has been driven by a need to provide employees with digital product information any time, any place or anywhere. Apple Watch is relatively new to the market and enterprises are still learning how this technology could benefit production and supply chain operations. The ability to view information relating to B2B transactions such as purchase order status or Advanced Ship Notice delivery status could transform the delivery and monitoring of such transactions across a business network. For example being able to act upon an undelivered ASN before it impacts downstream production processes, could be of immense benefit to a company. In addition using mapping apps to track shipment deliveries etc could help to increase the level of end to end visibility across a supply chain. More info on this in an earlier blog. Microsoft HoloLens, using augmented reality technology overlaid across a real world environment, could transform collaborative review processes. For example not just at the design stage of a new project but also across retail distribution networks where advanced features of a new vehicle can be demonstrated to potential buyers. Volvo Cars announced a partnership with Microsoft to install HoloLens across their dealer networks to allow potential buyers of their cars to visualize and ‘experience’ the various safety features of their vehicles. To learn how HoloLens could be used for visualizing information flowing across our Business Network, take a look at this blog. The one piece of technology that obtained the most interest when it was launched two years ago was Google Glass. Even though version one was retired by Google in 2015, Version two is rumoured to be released in the very near future. Glass has the ability to transform how for example production workers access digital assembly information or how service technicians access repair information. VW announced in December 2015 that they were deploying Glass to production workers in one of the factories, providing them with the ability to view assembly drawings, assembly videos and other product specific digital information within the Glass device. This allows workers to access any digital asset related to the assembly of a vehicle. Devices such as Glass will transform the role of the warehouse picker who can be guided to part collection points using maps and other location specific information which can be presented in their Glass device, keeping their hands free at all times. Advanced Robotics Technologies – Over the past few years, Google has acquired eight robotics companies including the infamous Boston Dynamics, a leading developer of advanced robotic devices for the US military. Google has been applying their robotics research towards production environments and in the future it is possible that Google may develop an operating system specifically targeted towards managing production robots. In fact, Google is already working closely with Foxconn, a leading contract manufacturer in the high tech sector, to replace up to a million manual workers across their Chinese production plants with advanced robots known as ‘Foxbots’. One of the key drivers for this robotics research is to try and develop more intelligent robots that can not only think for themselves but also sense their surroundings in a more accurate manner. Another leading robot manufacturer, Rethink Robotics, developed the ‘Baxter’ robot to try and transform production line operations. Traditional single arm robots normally require a safety cell to work within so that workers on the shop floor don’t get injured. Baxter meanwhile has proximity sensors placed in both of its arms so that if anyone approaches Baxter then it can shut down immediately. The area of artificial intelligence is going to further develop the advancement of industrial robots and when combined with the connected nature of the ‘Internet of Things’, production lines are going to become increasingly automated, self-sensing and more responsive to changing production requirements. The Internet of Things – if there is one disruptive technology that is getting the most interest from the industrial manufacturing sector, it is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT or the Industrial Internet, Internet of Everything, Internet Plus etc all exist to achieve the same thing, namely to provide a way for billions of connected devices to be able to transfer gigabytes of data with Big Data repositories where trends can be analysed and reported upon. The IoT will transform the 360 degree view of information and visibility of physical shipments moving across end to end supply chains. RFID technologies have been used for over twenty years, with mixed success in terms of adoption across the manufacturing industry however the IoT gives RFID a new sense of purpose and further investment in RFID technologies is now taking place to support IoT initiatives. IoT is also driving significant merger and acquisition and consolidation activities across the high tech sector, with a significant amount of M&A activity taking place in the semi-conductor sector. IoT is transforming industries, business processes and providing companies with significant operational benefits. The supply chain stands to benefit considerably from the IoT and there are three immediate areas where IoT can add value to a supply chain environment. To find out more about these three use cases, please take a look at an IoT  webinar with the lead IoT analyst from Gartner late last year. All five technologies that I discussed in this blog post will eventually find their way into more digital supply chains, as depicted by the diagram above. Key to the success of these future digital supply chains will be to establish an end to end ‘digital backbone’. B2B/EDI networks will evolve into more intelligent business networks where connected devices can share structured and unstructured information in a seamless manner with backed enterprise systems and Big Data repositories. OpenText is continually investing in our Business Network and my previous blog post highlighted some of the recent enhancements we have made to our Business Network. I will discuss further enhancements in the near future. OpenText has a broad portfolio of Enterprise Information Management solutions to help enable the digital business. One thing’s for sure, B2B integration will be at the heart of these digital transformation initiatives and I will share some proof points on how this will be achieved in future blog posts along with discussing the type of supply chain transformation initiatives being undertaken. If you would like to learn more about the IDC study then I will be presenting key findings at our series of European Innovation Tour events during the second half of March 2017. If you haven’t registered yet then please click here.

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Extending the Digital Supply Chain to Smaller Businesses with OpenText Freeway

Digital supply chain

One of the key challenges facing today’s procurement and supply chain operations is being able to digitally enable the end-to-end supply chain. Without 100% participation from all your trading partners it will be difficult to introduce an entirely digital supply chain. Whether you operate in the retail, consumer goods or automotive sectors, the challenge is the same, persuading your smallest trading partner to exchange transactions electronically with you. OpenText™ Business Network is the largest B2B integration platform in the world, we offer a range of B2B enablement tools to suit every size of company. From fax-based solutions right through to direct ERP integration-based solutions. Many smaller companies struggle to exchange B2B transactions electronically with their customers and sometimes being able to exchange transactions electronically is a condition of doing business. The main challenges relate to having limited technical expertise or simply not knowing where to start. OpenText™ Freeway is an affordable range of B2B e-commerce solutions that enables small and medium sized businesses to create, send, receive, print and manage EDI-based business documents. Built on over 15 years of experience, Freeway can either operate on-premises or in the cloud, the choice is yours. OpenText Freeway removes the pain of working with your customers, automating manual processes and removing paper based transactions, it’s all about improving time, efficiency, and reducing operational costs. Freeway Entry is ideal for the smaller company who just requires a B2B solution which is quick to deploy and relatively cheap to implement. Whereas, Freeway Professional is designed for the larger company that needs to integrate to back-office systems such as accounting packages and ERP systems. Freeway Professional integrates to over 200 different systems. With many industry specific trading partner modules available for retail, automotive, building, pharmaceutical and wholesalers, Freeway has been designed from the ground up to be quick to deploy and simple to use. For example your business can leverage over 1000 trading partner enablement kits to simplify how you work with key business partners across different industry sectors. I could use the remainder of this blog to discuss Freeway in a bit more detail, but why not take a look at our new video which introduces the range of Freeway solutions. You can access the video below. Whether on-premises or in the cloud, Freeway can add real value to your business. Freeway has been sold in the UK for many years, but we are making plans to expand our support of Freeway into other countries, all I can say for now is watch this space, things just got exciting for small and medium sized business! For more information on Freeway, please visit our website where you can also contact our team of experts who will be ready to assist with your query.

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Ten New Ways Business Network Supercharges Your B2B Integration Strategy

B2B

OpenText’s Business Network has evolved considerably since I first joined the company back in March 2006. Our core B2B integration platform Trading Grid was introduced in 2004 and around this time the company started to place a much stronger emphasis on helping companies manage their B2B environments through an outsourced, B2B Managed Services approach. GXS was acquired by OpenText in January 2014 and since then we have been able to leverage other products within our Enterprise Information Management (EIM)  portfolio and apply across our range of B2B integration solutions. Since joining OpenText’s product release schedule three years ago we have introduced more new functionality to our Business Network than at any time since I joined the company. This is great news for our global customers covering the automotive, high tech, retail, CPG and inancial services sectors. In April 2016 we aligned with OpenText’s other solution divisions to launch Release 16, the most complete set of product enhancements, covering all product lines, ever to be launched by OpenText. I wanted to use this blog to highlight some of the key B2B integration investments that we have made over the past eight months. As a reminder, Business Network is made up of two groups of solutions – structured, which covers the traditional B2B integration solutions and unstructured – which covers our secure information management solutions. My colleague Amy Perry covers the unstructured part of our network offerings and you can find more information on these via her blog, We have continued to invest heavily in our Business Network, expanding capabilities and improving how our customers leverage the various solutions and services that we offer today. Over the last few years many companies have been developing their corporate strategies around cloud, mobile and big data and we have embraced these and many other technologies across the various B2B integration solutions that we offer today. Release 16 offered a number of significant enhancements to our Business Network: Trading Grid Analytics, which uses embedded analytics across our B2B transaction flows to obtain, deep, rich and meaningful insights into what is going on across a supply chain operation. Logistics Track & Trace, offering improved end to end visibility of shipments as they move across the supply chain and embedded analytics to provide deep and rich intelligence of logistics carrier performance Enhanced Procure-to-Pay solutions which offer numerous enhancements to our suite of software as service-based Active Applications Enhanced trading partner digitization capabilities to enable the 100% enablement of even the smallest supplier with Fax2EDI and Email2EDI solution availability Mobility, providing mobile apps for transaction visibility and deductions management capabilities Since Release 16 we haven’t been sitting around!, we have been adding more and more capabilities to Business Network. I have undertaken many briefings with lead analyst firms, the same firms that covered our B2B integration activity at GXS, and they have been really encouraged by the level of investment that we have been placing into our Business Network and the plans in place for our future product roadmap. So let me now highlight the top ten features and capabilities that we have introduced in the last few months. Enhanced Trading Grid Analytics – Leveraging additional capabilities from OpenText™ Analytics, Trading Grid Analytics (TGA) now has additional capabilities to analyze transaction based information from a broader set of enterprise systems. We can now leverage a process called ‘data blending’ to accept transactions from third party B2B platforms and information from other enterprise systems such as ERP, TMS and WMS. Data blending consolidates all of this information into a single information flow and helps to provide a complete 360 degree view of information flowing across your end to end supply chain. In addition we can offer custom metrics, which allows companies to define any type of business report through an engagement with our Professional Services team. We have expanded support in our analytics platform (or better known as a data lake) for other document formats such as VDA, Tradacoms and RosettaNet. Finally we have also extended the support of TGA to include our customers on our Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) platform, this will considerably increase the volume of transactions being processed by our analytics platform on a daily basis. Extended Web Services Capabilities – This is a really interesting area as there is a lot of noise in the market at the moment about the growing traction of APIs. However with more APIs comes more end points to manage, it is similar in a way to what happened in 2000 with the introduction of market exchanges and XML document formats. XML was seen to be the replacement for EDI but guess what, 17 years later and EDI is pretty much entrenched across most industry sectors. APIs require a certain amount of technical skills to configure. You may have to worry about multiple connections. As part of this set of enhancements, we have introduced some new web services based integration capabilities. So, for example, rather than you establishing a direct connection through an API to say SAP Ariba, we can now undertake the same integration through our Trading Grid environment. Thus preserving the one-to-many connections that we offer to many companies around the world. So you connect to our network and we take care of connecting to your trading partners or integrating to internal business systems. IS027001 Certification – With many companies taking their first steps into the cloud, working with a trusted partner that can offer a secure cloud-based environment is important for business success. OpenText™ B2B Managed Services platform, personnel, data center infrastructure now meets the requirements of the international security management certification. An important certification to ensure that your business information is managed correctly as it passes across our global Business Network infrastructure. HIPAA Compliance – allows OpenText to exchange healthcare related transactions, for example between healthcare providers and doctors surgeries, across our Business Network, thus helping to increase the overall volume of transactions moving across our network on an annual basis. Extended Mobile Support with Active Orders – We have been able to leverage many different solutions across the broader Enterprise Information Management portfolio of solutions that OpenText offers. For example Appworks, a mobile app development platform that we leveraged last year to develop our Active Documents mobile app. We have now extended the mobile support of our Active Applications (SaaS based B2B integration solutions) to include Active Orders Mobile. Active Orders provides end-to-end visibility of the lifecycle of purchase order based transactions and the extension of this application to a mobile device allows users to track the status of any purchase order at any time in any place. Drummond AS4 Communications Certification – the AS4 communications protocol has been around for a few years now, I remember blogging about this in 2010 after I first heard about this new communications protocol after attending a Cisco conference. Thanks to Walmart in North America, AS2 was broadly adopted across the retail sector, AS3 seemed to come and go with no real traction and then AS4 arrived kicking and screaming to support business expansion into the cloud. AS4 was developed especially to support web-based services for cloud based infrastructures and we now offer support for this protocol via our B2B Managed Services platform. AS4 was clearly ahead of its time and it is really only in the past 2 years that certain industries have started to adopt AS4. For example AS4 has been adopted by ENTSOG, the European Network of Transmission Systems for Gas providers. OpenText has been certified by Drummond for AS4, and also supports the ENTSOG AS4 profile. Other industry bodies such as IATA in the transport sector are also looking at AS4 and you can be assured that OpenText plans to support these new AS4 profiles as they are released. Business Document Viewer – allows EDI-based transactions to be read in a more human readable form. This enables non-EDI or business-related users to view any type of B2B document, in a more recognized and easier to digest format. Extended Self-Enablement Capabilities – This will allow companies to have a bit more control of their B2B Managed Services environment in terms of managing trading partners. In addition a new trading partner discovery admin tool helps to accelerate the onboarding of trading partners to a hub by quickly searching our network for any existing connectivity information and then using this information to speed up the deployment of a new B2B platform. This tool significantly helps our Professional Services team to deploy your B2B platform in a much shorter time period. Electronic Invoicing Enhancements– Our Active Invoice with Compliance (AIC) solution now helps companies to process invoices electronically across more than fifty countries. This includes Brazil and Mexico where the governments mandate the use of electronic invoicing as a condition of doing business in their respective countries. We have now extended the capabilities of AIC to support B2G (Business-to-Government) requirements, in countries such as France and Japan for example. We have also introduced an automatic provisioning capability across our electronic invoicing solution that effectively allows new trading partners to be registered with our invoicing platform as soon as an invoice is processed, ie taking the details within the invoice to auto-provision a new trading partner on the platform. This not only speeds up the provisioning of new trading partners to the platform but it improves the overall quality of the invoice information being exchanged. Auto-provisioning helps to significantly reduce the time to deploy a B2B platform and this capability will be applied to other solutions within our suite of B2B solutions. My colleague Greg Horton recently blogged on this new capability. Acquisition of the North American Automotive Network Exchange (ANX) – ANX has been serving the connectivity requirements of the North American automotive industry for many years now, however as the automotive industry has globalized it has put pressure on B2B networks to provide more global support. Other regional automotive B2B networks such as ENX in Europe and JNX in Japan have serviced their respective automotive industries for many years, but OpenText™ Business Network spans the globe and can offer truly global connectivity. The acquisition of ANX not only extends our support of the automotive industry, but it also brings extensive knowledge of the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) sector, a suite of tools used to design and manufacture components used in everything from cars to planes. For example OpenText will continue to resell PLM solutions from Dassault and Siemens. Finally ANX also brings extensive experience of the healthcare sector as ANX provides connectivity and transaction based services to many different healthcare providers. This nicely compliments our new support of HIPAA for example. So as you can see we have been very busy since the launch of Release 16 and it doesn’t stop there. We will be introducing even more enhancements over the coming months and I will expand on those new capabilities in a future blog. However in the meantime if you are in Europe during the second half of March then you may like to register to attend one of our Innovation Tour stops.  

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Discussing B2B Integration at OpenText Innovation Tour APAC

OpenText Innovation Tour

In late November last year I was asked to participate in APAC leg of our Innovation Tour events, starting with Sydney then travelling on to Singapore and Tokyo. The Innovation Tour is a unique series of events which OpenText hosts in various locations around the world and they complement our main customer conference, Enterprise World, which takes place in July each year. I thought I would use this blog to share some insights from these three events in APAC and hopefully encourage you to register for our upcoming events around Europe in March this year! I always enjoy travelling to APAC, our customers in this region seem to prefer face-to-face meetings and so you can always guarantee great attendance at any event in the region. These were no exception and due to customer demand, each of the three events was twice the size of the previous years’ events. My participation was to provide an update on the progress we have been making with enhancing the B2B integration capabilities of our Business Network. I will expand in more detail on these enhancements in another blog in the next few weeks. My Business Network colleague Amy Perry provided an overview of some of our secure information exchange solutions at both the Sydney and Singapore events. First stop was the Westin Hotel in downtown Sydney, an excellent location for our customers to come together to learn about the many enhancements we have made to our large portfolio of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions. Each event is in a one day format and we manage to blend a mix of formal and informal sessions to meet the needs of the customers at each location. The structure for each event comprises of several keynote sessions in the morning and then a series of product specific breakouts in the afternoon. In addition there are various networking opportunities in our expo hall for customers to understand the finer workings of our EIM product offerings. OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea, opened each event with an interesting keynote discussing the ‘Intelligence of Things’. The Internet of Things was a hot topic for many CIOs in 2016 and this session expanded on this theme by explaining how OpenText’s EIM solutions can help leverage digital business information, from ‘engagement to insight’, across the extended enterprise. Mark also discussed recent acquisitions and finished his session by explaining OpenText’s move into the area of cognitive based analytics. 2017 is certainly going to be an exciting year for OpenText and its customers. The morning sessions also included a presentation from the analyst firm Forrester and a ‘fireside chat’ style of customer interview with Tracy Parsons from the New Zealand Transport Agency. These events are built around our customers and so it is a great opportunity for the delegates to hear from their peers on how they are deploying OpenText technologies across their respective businesses. Each Innovation Tour stop includes an expo hall where all of OpenText’s EIM solutions are showcased, this provides an ideal opportunity for delegates to see our new Release 16 enhancements and capabilities in action. Each of our six main EIM product offerings had its own demonstration pod and this provided an excellent opportunity for customers to get a more in-depth overview of our products. Our Elite lounge provided a great location for customers to unwind and learn more about our customer loyalty program, a unique way to engage with OpenText in different ways and receive loyalty points for your time and effort!, more info on our Elite program can be found here. For this particular event I presented two sessions relating to B2B integration, one looking at supplier enablement and another discussing our supply chain analytics solution. There was significant interest in our new analytics offering, Trading Grid Analytics, a unique way to utilise the transactions flowing across our Business Network to obtain deep and more meaningful insights as to what is going on across a supply chain operation. Interestingly at the end of the analytics session I was asked a couple of questions on Blockchain and what my thoughts were on its application across the supply chain. Just as well I had read up on Blockchain on the long flight across to Sydney! I will leave this topic for another blog, but as with IoT, Blockchain appears to be gaining traction in the market, especially in the financial services sector. Next stop was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Singapore is an interesting city, a major technology and financial services hub and also a major cargo port as well. Singapore is a great example of a ‘connected’ city and Mark Barrenechea’s presentation on the Intelligence of Things was very well received by this particular audience. Mark Barrenechea interviewed Ananda Subbiah, the Chief Customer Officer of Freestyle Technology, a start up IoT company that is seeing exponential growth at the moment. It was interesting to hear from Freestyle about their business and the unique opportunity they have to grow their business in one of the world’s leading connected cities. As with the interview with the New Zealand Transport Agency in Sydney, these so called ‘fireside’ chats provide a unique opportunity for our customers to share their experience of working with OpenText and our range of EIM solutions. Each stop on our upcoming European Innovation Tour will include a fireside chat with a customer. Our customer marketing team goes to great lengths to secure customers that can tell their story of how they are using our EIM solutions, but these fireside chats take these discussions one step further and in many cases add a more personal perspective of how these global companies work with OpenText. There is immense consolidation in the high tech industry at the moment and one of OpenText’s B2B Managed Services customers based in Singapore, Avago Technologies, recently closed a major M&A deal to acquire Broadcom. The newly merged company is now called Broadcom Limited. This M&A activity is being driven by consumer and enterprise interest in new technologies such as wearable devices, drones, 3D printers and of course IoT. So it was great to get some insights from Freestyle on what was driving their business and how they plan to support their various customers in the future. From a Business Network perspective I was certainly kept busy, I delivered three back-to-back sessions covering supply chain analytics, Marginal Gains theory and IoT. (I have written numerous blogs on each of these subjects in the past). I have been looking at the IoT sector for the past three years and during 2016 I spent some time trying to map out how our EIM solutions could support IoT applications across the supply chain. You can get more insights on this from a recent webinar that I hosted with a lead IoT analyst from Gartner. The breakout sessions were well attended but as always it was the customer interaction after each session that was valuable for me. The last leg of this part of the Innovation Tour finished in Tokyo, a city that I have visited four times in the past few years. Our event was held just outside the city centre at a location that has various large technology company HQs located near our hotel. This particular event brought an extra level of complexity for our event organisers as all the presentations were in Japanese and we had real-time translators at the back of the room to ensure that our EIM message was efficiently translated in local language! This is a great example of how we tailor these events to suit the needs of our customers. Japan is an interesting country and in recent years, adoption of cloud-based services has grown exponentially. Due to natural disasters, many Japanese manufacturers have had to try and find ways to build extra resilience into their supply chain operations. Hosting valuable company information in a local data centre in Tokyo is no longer the way to operate a global Japanese business and a cultural shift has seen companies move from behind the firewall software solutions to cloud offerings. For this reason, there was great interest in the EIM solution update presentation provided by Muhi Majzoub, OpenText EVP of Engineering. Muhi provided a great summary of the recent set of enhancements that we have made to our products and provided some insights into the future direction of our portfolio of EIM solutions. Given that my Japanese language skills are virtually non-existent, I didn’t actually present at this particular stop on our Innovation Tour, but I did have three great customer meetings during the course of the event. This leg of my trip was to support our sales operation and over the course of five days I completed a sales training session for our Business Network team in Tokyo and I was then taken around some of our largest manufacturing customers in Japan. What I have found is that it is relatively easy to have customer meetings in Japan, mainly because companies are keen to hear about the latest industry trends from other parts of the world and in my role I can provide a mix of industry, technology and product trends to meet their appetites. My hotel in Japan was located right above the central station in Tokyo, a great location to not only get to our office next door but to also travel on the bullet train to other locations such as Nagoya and Osaka where many of our manufacturing customers are based. So there ends a brief review of my two week trip to APAC just before the holidays, a great opportunity to experience different cultures, but to also discuss our Business Network solutions with customers that are keen to automate manual, paper based processes and leverage the many enhancements that we have added to our Business Network over the past few months.  

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How IoT Enables a Hyper Connected Supply Chain

IoT

Over the last three years I have been following the Internet of Things (IoT) sector very closely. It has been an interesting journey, not least because the IoT sector is continually evolving and new startup companies appear on the market on an almost daily basis. Some would argue that IoT has been around far longer and for some elements of the technologies used in an IoT environment that is certainly true. But let’s focus on the here and now. Cisco started the ball rolling in late 2013 when they introduced one of the first conferences dedicated to IoT, the IoT World Forum, and this was the event that sparked my interest in this sector. In 2014 GE, now GE Digital, became a provider of IoT solutions, mainly focused on the analytics sector. At the same time PTC, my former employer, went on a serial acquisition trail to help position themselves as a leader in the sector. Today, we seem to be entering a period of IoT partnerships, with SAP partnering with Vodafone for edge connectivity and more recently with Bosch for industrial based solutions. SAP also announced a $2Billion investment in the IoT space over the next few years. IoT is an interesting sector as it has applications in our our home, work and leisure related activities and startup companies are still evolving to capture each of these very different sectors. It is interesting to see so much partnership and investment activity in the IoT sector at the moment. For one reason or another, IoT seems to be struggling when it comes to standards, it would appear that most of the regions around the world have yet to settle on a standard IoT definition, let alone define standards for information exchange and communications. In North America the market is heavily driven by the Industrial Internet, with GE Digital driving the sector, with support from a host of Silicon Valley high tech companies. In Europe, Industry 4.0 leads with large industrial companies such as Bosch and Schneider Electric establishing internal software divisions to develop solutions for this sector. Then you have Japan with their Value Chain Initiative and China with Internet Plus. So which IoT definition is likely to win here? I think it is too early to say just yet. IoT stands to transform supply chain operations, with more connected devices across the end-to-end supply chain, IoT will enable an almost macro level of visibility that supply chain and logistics leaders have simply never had before. From Pervasive Visibility, to Proactive Replenishment and Predictive Maintenance, IoT stands to transform tomorrow’s digital supply chain operations. So what exactly is an IoT Platform and how can it support tomorrow’s supply chain? Well this is the theme of a webinar on demand that OpenText is sponsoring called The Next Big Opportunity? IoT for Your Supply Chain. Hosted by SupplyChainBrain.com, an online publisher of news and information relating to the supply chain sector, the webinar features a lead analyst from Gartner, Benoit Lheureux. Benoit is a VP of research at Gartner and his focus area relates to IoT. Benoit covers some of the key trends that Gartner is seeing in the market today and provides some interesting insights into some recent research relating to the five key building blocks for an IoT platform. I was fortunate to co-present with Benoit at Enterprise World in July and I am pleased to be presenting with Benoit once again in this webinar. One of the key enablers to establishing an IoT platform is being able to seamlessly integrate between ‘things’, enterprise systems and external trading partners. Pervasive Integration, especially when combined with a global network such as OpenText’s Business Network, can provide the key foundation to an IoT platform. So in summary the webinar covers the following areas: Discuss some of the key IoT trends today Introduce the concept of an IoT platform Discuss a number of use cases for IoT in the supply chain Learn how OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions align with the five key components of an IoT platform Understand the importance of pervasive integration in the context of IoT   So if you are currently thinking about deploying IoT across your supply chain operations be sure to check out the webinar.

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Comment la Rupture Digitale Impacte et Impactera les Supply Chain du Secteur Automobile?

chaine logistique

Le secteur automobile est aujourd’hui aux portes de la quatrième révolution industrielle. Si les DSI veillent, depuis une vingtaine d’années, à assurer le déploiement ponctuel de projets clés tels que les initiatives ERP, ils doivent aujourd’hui prendre en compte une multitude de nouvelles technologies de rupture pour que leur société reste compétitive face aux nouveaux entrants qui les ont adoptées. L’impression 3D Des fabricants tels qu’Audi ou Bentley Motors produisent déjà des pièces métalliques en impression 3D, pour l’instant principalement dans le cadre de prototypes de véhicules exposés lors des salons automobiles. L’impression 3D transforme la conception et l’ingénierie des véhicules de demain car de plus en plus de pièces détachées sont conçues pour faciliter leur remplacement. Si l’on constate par exemple, un support cassé sur une voiture en cours de réparation, ce support devra pouvoir être remplacé par une pièce imprimée en 3D par le concessionnaire lui-même, plutôt que commandée chez le fabricant. Le concept de « zero length supply chain », avec des pièces imprimées en 3D à la demande sans nécessiter de prestataires logistiques pour la livraison, fait ainsi son apparition et va révolutionner le secteur de l’après-vente automobile. Local Motors, un fabricant automobile en Amérique du Nord, repousse les limites des technologies de l’impression 3D encore plus loin en fabricant un véhicule entier de la sorte. Les technologies mobiles et portables L’adoption des technologies mobiles et portables est en pleine croissance ces dernières années dans le secteur de la production. Si on prend l’exemple de l’Apple Watch, la possibilité de consulter des informations relatives aux transactions B2B, telles que le statut d’un bon de commande ou d’un préavis d’expédition, va transformer la prestation et le suivi de telles transactions sur l’ensemble de la chaine logistique. Être en mesure d’intervenir lorsqu’un préavis d’expédition n’a pas été émis avant que cela n’impacte les processus de production en aval constitue un avantage de taille pour une entreprise. Les applications de cartographie mobiles permettant de suivre les livraisons depuis son téléphone portable permettent également d’améliorer la visibilité d’un bout à l’autre de la chaine logistique. Dans le domaine marketing, Volvo Cars a récemment annoncé un nouveau partenariat avec Microsoft visant à installer des HoloLens dans l’ensemble de ses réseaux de concessionnaires afin que les acheteurs potentiels puissent visualiser et expérimenter les diverses caractéristiques de sécurité des véhicules. Enfin, dans le domaine de la logistique, les appareils tels que les casques ou lunettes à réalité augmentée transformeront irrémédiablement le rôle des opérateurs d’entrepôts qui se verront orientés vers des points de collecte de colis à l’aide de cartes et autres informations de géolocalisation spécifiques, libérant ainsi leurs mains à tout moment. Les technologies robotiques avancées La recherche en robotique est principalement menée par le désir de parvenir à développer des robots intelligents qui non seulement pensent par eux-mêmes, mais ont aussi une conscience plus précise de leur environnement. Rethink Robotics a développé le « Baxter » en vue de transformer les opérations sur les lignes de production. Les robots traditionnels à bras unique doivent généralement être isolés dans une cellule de sécurité afin que les travailleurs au niveau de l’atelier de fabrication ne risquent pas d’être blessés. Baxter, au contraire, est équipé de capteurs de proximité montés dans ses deux bras, qui lui permettent d’arrêter ses mouvements automatiquement dès que l’on s’approche de lui. Le domaine de l’intelligence artificielle est en voie de contribuer au développement des robots industriels. Alliées à la connexion intrinsèque de l’Internet des objets, les lignes de production seront de plus en plus automatisées, auto-captées et davantage réactives aux modifications des exigences de production. L’Internet des objets L’IoT va transformer la vision à 360 degrés de l’information et la visibilité continue des expéditions physiques au sein des chaines logistiques globales : les ressources connectées utilisées par une chaine logistique contribueront à améliorer la visibilité de bout en bout des colis. L’IoT améliorera également la manière dont les données sont collectées auprès des objets connectés et l’analyse de ces données en aval contribuera à améliorer les prises de décision à différents niveaux. Par ailleurs, la supervision en temps réel des niveaux d’inventaires et des tendances de consommation permettra une optimisation du processus de réapprovisionnement. L’automatisation complète du processus de réapprovisionnement sera ainsi possible ; certains des appareils connectés pourront ainsi à l’avenir commander des marchandises directement auprès des fournisseurs. Enfin, l’IoT est amené à transformer le support et l’entretien tout au long de la vie des équipements connectés. La croissance exponentielle du nombre de capteurs fournissant des données provenant d’appareils connectés permettra d’adopter une meilleure approche, plus prédictive, de la gestion de tout type de produit réparable. Les drones et véhicules autonomes Amazon a récemment lancé son drone Prime Air en le mettant au service de la livraison de petits colis, un segment crucial pour les fournisseurs tiers de services de logistique. DHL est l’un des premiers prestataires 3PL à tirer profit des drones pour la livraison de médicaments sur des îles reculées d’Extrême Orient, où il n’y a pas la place pour construire des pistes d’atterrissage. D’autres initiatives sont également en cours, telles que celle développée par Starship Technologies, qui a développé un véhicule autonome de petit gabarit permettant de livrer deux sacs d’achats effectués en magasin au domicile du client. Dans le domaine de la production automobile, les capacités uniques des drones à soutenir la production et l’activité d’après-vente sont indéniables. Ainsi, les équipementiers automobiles pourront eux-aussi livrer automatiquement leurs équipements et pièces détachées aux fabricants automobile voisins, venant alimenter leurs environnements de production en juste-à-temps et ce 24h sur 24. En conclusion La production manufacturière et le secteur automobile en particulier occupent à présent une position privilégiée pour tirer le meilleur profit de ces technologies digitales. Les entreprises qui n’hésiteront pas à le faire transformeront non seulement leurs opérations de production, mais amélioreront également les performances de leur supply chain tout en transformant les interactions avec leurs clients. Ces technologies nécessitent que les informations structurées et non structurées puissent être échangées au sein d’un réseau permettant d’une part, de les traiter dans l’immédiateté et d’autre part, de les archiver pour être analysées dans le futur. Si la chaine logistique permet d’échanger des objets physiques, la digitalisation des processus manufacturier exigera qu’une chaine numérique de type réseau digital permette d’échanger des informations critiques en toute sécurité tout en respectant les contraintes temporelles. Ainsi, le fait que l’information critique puisse être échangée de façon sécurisée et dans les bons délais permettra aux entreprises d’optimiser grandement leurs processus, de mieux collaborer avec leurs partenaires industriels et ainsi de maintenir leur compétitivité. Les appareils connectés et les communications basées sur le « machine to machine » ne cesseront de gagner en importance dans le futur du monde industriel, d’où la nécessité pour les entreprises de choisir un réseau digital d’échange d’informations capable de connecter et d’intégrer ces nouvelles technologies à leurs opérations globales.

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How Many Gold Medals Could Your Company win at the ‘B2B Integration’ Olympics?

B2B integration

So the eyes of the world are on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and following on from my previous blog relating to the use of Marginal Gains theory at Rio 2016, I thought I would continue the Olympic theme for this blog. The sports that make up the games are varied in nature and it got me thinking, how would companies fare if they were to compete in the B2B Integration Olympics? An event designed to see how well companies are using B2B technologies to address specific business and supply chain challenges. OpenText recently completed a research study with IDC Manufacturing Insights to look at how B2B integration drives superior supply chain performance. The study demonstrated that companies can be segmented into experts, leaders or laggards in terms of their adoption of B2B technologies. Similar I guess to winning gold, silver or bronze at the Olympics! Is it possible to compare an Olympic sport with a specific supply chain challenge? Well let me try and explain during this blog. I will focus on five Olympic sports and compare them with the various B2B challenges that many companies face today. How many of the following ‘events’ would your company be able to take part in, based on whether you are using the B2B technologies described for each sport listed, one, two or possibly all events? First up, archery. Archery – This sport is one of the oldest in the Olympics and requires utmost accuracy and patience on behalf of the competitors. Archery dates back around 10,000 years when bows and arrows were first used for hunting and warfare, before it developed as a competitive activity in Medieval England. Trying to hit a target 122cm in diameter, let alone hit the center ring measuring just 12.2 cm takes a lot of nerve, skill and determination on behalf of the athletes taking part. So as archery is focused primarily on accuracy, have you ever thought about how accurate your business transactions are as they flow across your supply chain or into your back office enterprise system? How much manual rework do you have to undertake to correct documents before they enter an ERP system for example? An ERP/B2B integration study conducted by OpenText found that up to 34% of data entering an ERP system comes from outside the enterprise, what if this externally sourced data contains inaccurate information? OpenText™ Active Intelligence is one solution that can ensure increased accuracy of business transactions flowing across your supply chain and into enterprise platforms such as ERP systems. Do you have an automated process for checking the quality of business documents across your supply chain? If so then you can award your company your first gold medal! Triathlon – This event is thought to have started between the two world wars and others say that it originated in the United States in the 1970s. The first triathlon was held at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and the event consists of a 1500m swim, a 43km bike ride and a 10km run with no breaks and the transition between each event has to be seamless, and is part of the competition. The triathlon is almost multi-modal in nature, similar to many of the services offered by global logistics companies where they ship goods across land, sea and air routes around the world 24/7. But how do you keep track of these global shipments? One way is via OpenText’s logistics Track and Trace capabilities on our Business Network, a new capability which allows you to have a window into your global supply chain and keep track of shipments as they pass across different modes of transport, different country borders and then onto distribution centers or retail outlets. The OpenText™ Business Network is connected to many of the world’s logistics providers and allows you to keep track of shipments and also monitor the performance of your logistics partners through our embedded analytics capabilities. Do you have a way to seamlessly track shipments anywhere around the world, across multi-modal logistics partners? If yes, then you can award your company another gold medal! 4 x 100m Relay – The Olympic stadium surrounds a 400m oval track and this event relies on four runners being able to effortlessly transport a baton in the quickest possible time from the start to finish line. If the baton is dropped for any reason during the handover period between two runners then it can add significant time to the lap of the track. The runners in this case have to be very fit and also have to be able to handover/receive the baton in a seamless manner otherwise they will lose the relay race. Being able to exchange the baton seamlessly between runners is a bit like transferring a B2B transaction between different trading partners across a business network. B2B transactions need to be carried by a provider who can transport the transaction from one location to another, in a relatively short time and at the same time adhere to local or regional B2B standards where required. OpenText™ Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) provides a highly available messaging platform that ensures that your business transactions get from A to B as smoothly as possible. These transactions may need to be sent via different communication protocols or converted into different document formats, either way TGMS can mediate between any format and provide inter-connectivity to many different networks around the world. Do you have the ability to send B2B transactions anywhere in the world irrespective of the communication protocol or document format being used? If yes, then you can award your company another gold medal! Weightlifting – This ultimately showcases a test of pure strength and it represents the oldest and most basic form of physical competition. Weightlifting appeared at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and today’s sport is divided into 15 weight categories, eight for men and seven for women. The aim of weightlifting is simple, to lift more weight than anyone else and in some cases the strongest competitors may lift more than three times their body weight. Many companies today have a requirement to exchange very large files, securely between trading partners across a supply chain. Large files in this case could be point of sale data, cheque images, financial data or engineering type files. These files are typically much larger in size than normal B2B transactions being exchanged across a business network. OpenText™ Managed File Transfer solution provides a way to exchange large or important files across a secure network. Large file transfer in the past has been through the simple exchange of files on CDROMS or other medium, today this can be achieved securely via an MFT solution. Do you have a means to exchange large files securely across your supply chain? If yes, then you can award your company another gold medal! Beach Volleyball – In 1895 William G Morgan devised a game he called ‘mintonette’ which he intended as a gentle alternative to basketball for older members of his YMCA gym. Over a hundred years later and volleyball is anything but gentle and made its first appearance at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Rio de Janiero is the home of the first beach volleyball world championships, so only appropriate that this year’s beach volleyball event should take place on the world famous Copacabana beach. There are two key requirements for members of a beach volleyball team, collaboration and communication. Two requirements that are also required across many of today’s supply chains. Being able to collaborate with trading partners is important for improving operational efficiencies and being able to communicate during for example some form of supply chain disruption is equally important. OpenText Active Community provides a collaborative platform that helps to improve collaboration and information management across a trading partner community. Active Community provides an effortless way to manage supplier contact information, send out mass communication notices to suppliers, undertake assessments, perhaps as part of a quality procedure, and generally improve the day to day way in which you manage your trading partner community. Do you have a means to effectively manage the day to day collaboration and communications with your entire trading partner community? If so you can award your company your final gold medal! So now comes the interesting part, based on just these five areas, how many gold medals did your company win, one?, two?, three?, four? or five? Adoption of B2B technologies can appear to be a slow and complex process but OpenText is here to help, if you would like to go for gold and win the B2B Integration Olympics why not contact us to see how we can help. More information is available from our website. If you would like to put the Marginal Gains theory being used at Rio 2016 into practice across your supply chain operations then please visit our dedicated website where you can find more information.

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How Marginal Gains Theory at Rio 2016 Could Improve Your B2B Integration Platform

marginal gains

So here we are again, the world’s best athletes competing against each other at the Olympics, hosted this time in a city with one of the most stunning backdrops in the world, Rio de Janeiro. Each athlete has undertaken years of training with the sole aim of winning that elusive Olympic medal. Over the years many performance improvement based management theories have been developed but one stands out as having a direct impact on the performance of an Olympic team, ‘Marginal Gains’ theory. The theory was originally conceived by Sir Clive Woodward who took the British Rugby team to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The theory really went mainstream when Dave Brailsford adopted and expanded the theory to take the British cycling team to victory at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Marginal Gains theory has been increasingly associated with Brailsford in recent years and has been adopted in other sporting disciplines such as yachting and Formula One racing. In summary, Brailsford said that if you could improve every variable underpinning or influencing your performance by just 1% then taking the aggregation of these 1% improvements would provide a significant overall performance improvement. The British cycle team examined everything that impacted the bike speed and systematically looked to make improvements to equipment, technology, rider preparation, fitness, rider mindset, coaching and so the list went on. The difficulty 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 improve the performance of the team, ie they are continually improving the performance of the team. The theory of continuous improvement went mainstream in the 1950’s when Toyota introduced their production system. The ‘Kaizen’ process of continuous improvement, similar in nature to Marginal Gains, was introduced to transform Toyota’s production facilities and every step in Toyota’s production process was analyzed and improved to drive significant operational efficiencies. Just-in-Time production and lean manufacturing were both introduced by Toyota and this underpins the production operations of most of today’s global car manufacturers. Now what if you could apply the Marginal Gains theory across your B2B environment? After all most companies are not able to implement a fully featured B2B platform from day one. Implementing a B2B environment across potentially thousands of trading partners can be a lengthy and complex process. Taking a step-by-step approach to deploying a B2B platform can bring significant benefits. Establishing a B2B environment can be broken down into a number of key steps, let me now highlight six of the key steps involved and how OpenText can help at each stage of establishing your B2B environment. Improving Transaction Automation – this should be the primary goal of a procurement department, to ensure that their trading partner community is 100% enabled, in other words it is possible to exchange business documents electronically with every trading partner. For example this could mean replacing paper based documents with electronic information submitted through web forms. OpenText offers a number of solutions to help ‘B2B enable’ 100% of a trading partner community. This includes tools such as Fax2Edi, Web Forms and portals, and even Microsoft Office-based tools that effectively shield small suppliers from the complexities of sending information electronically via EDI. Improving Trading Partner Engagement – by simply having all supplier contact details in a central location will make the day-to-day management of a trading partner community much easier. Traditionally, supplier contact details may be held in different business systems, spreadsheets or even paper-based filing systems. Simply having a single and centralized repository of trading partner contact details can improve trading partner related people-to-people communications and collaboration activities. This becomes even more important during a period of supply chain disruption when alternative suppliers may need to be contacted for alternative supply of goods. OpenText offers a number of community management tools and from a collaboration point of view OpenText™ Active Community can help improve the day-to-day, people-to-people collaboration across a supply chain. It is quite surprising how many companies do not maintain a central record of all supplier contact details, Active Community achieves this and more by hosting a central hub of supplier contact details that can be used for engaging with suppliers on a frequent basis, but in a more controlled manner. With many companies operating on a global basis now, improved collaboration should be at the top of most companies agenda when thinking about how to improve operational efficiencies across a supply chain. Improving Customer Service – by ensuring that Advanced Ship Notices, for example, are able to be delivered within specific time windows as defined by customers. If customers know when shipments are likely to arrive at warehouse docks then they can be better prepared for the onward distribution to retail stores for example. Ensuring that ASNs are delivered to customers electronically allows suppliers to meet their customers’ tight ASN delivery service level agreements. OpenText offers quality improvement solutions such as Active Intelligence that can check the quality of all inbound transactions to ensure they are accurate and not missing important pieces of information. Whether invoices or orders, ensuring that these documents can be processed efficiently can make or break the smooth running of a supply chain. Anything that can be done to minimize the manual rework of these documents helps to save time and money and also helps to ensure that suppliers get paid more quickly as part of the overall process. Improving 360 Degree Visibility – This is a key goal of every supply chain and logistics team. From having end-to-end visibility of shipments moving across a supply chain, through to being able to introspect every business transaction flowing across a supply chain to identify operational and business trends. From an operational point of view being able to identify the volume of transactions by document type and most popular trading partners, and from a business point of view being able to analyze ASN timeliness or invoice accuracy. Having improved 360 degree visibility of a supply chain and being able to apply analytics to transaction based information flows allows more informed business decisions to be made. Ensuring that you can have end-to-end visibility of transactions and shipments is a constant challenge faced by many businesses. OpenText™ Active Orders allows companies to keep track of the end to end flow of orders across your business. Comprehensive track and trace capabilities allow you to keep track of physical shipment flows and any delays experienced across the supply chain can be rolled up and a new expected time of arrival can be calculated accordingly. Finally, OpenText™ Trading Grid Analytics embeds analytics into the actual transaction flows so that both operational and business metrics can be measured with ease. Many companies are just starting to explore the use of analytics across the supply chain, and Trading Grid Analytics can help bring deep and meaningful insights across your supply chain operations. Improving Regional Compliance – is a major initiative facing many of today’s businesses. Companies are constantly having to embrace new regulations, especially when trying to work with trading partners in different regions around the world. Whether embracing corporate social responsibility initiatives, embracing conflict minerals compliance in North America or simply meeting the different electronic invoicing regulations around the world. Electronic invoicing compliance is probably the most complex regulation to embrace, simply because nearly every country around the world has different tax laws, varying invoice archiving needs and digital signature requirements. Ensuring that companies can trade electronically around the world is one thing, but being able to comply with a myriad of regional regulations is another level of complexity that can potentially be shielded from trading partners. For example OpenText™ Active Invoice with Compliance allows any supplier to exchange a fully compliant invoice virtually anywhere in the world, and OpenText can comply with electronic invoicing regulations in over 50 countries around the world, including Brazil and Mexico where the use of electronic invoices is mandated by local government. In addition, using OpenText’s Active Community platform highlighted earlier, you can quickly assess supply chains for regional compliance initiatives such as the conflict minerals reporting requirement mandated by all companies who file financial reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in North America. This is just one example of how a collaboration platform can help to adhere to regional compliance regulations and there are many other compliance examples out there in the market. Improve Enterprise Integration – can bring many benefits to a company, whether simply integrating to an accounting package or an ERP system, ensuring that information from external trading partners can seamlessly enter enterprise systems can help to streamline information flows. A research study from OpenText demonstrated that over a third of information entering an ERP system actually comes from outside the enterprise. By integrating ERP and B2B systems together you can ensure that downstream production or retail environments are not impacted by delays related to manual rework of data. Ensuring that high quality and accurate information enters back end enterprise environments is a constant challenge. If inaccurate data is allowed to enter SAP for example, and this information reaches downstream production environments then there is a chance that these production lines will be brought to a standstill. By integrating your ERP and B2B environments in the cloud you can check the quality of all information entering your ERP environment and at the same time ensure that these transactions are flowing across a highly available, cloud based infrastructure. OpenText™ Managed Services can provide this highly available environment, especially important when an OpenText sponsored analyst survey, that I highlighted earlier, said that over a third of information entering ERP actually comes from outside the enterprise. OpenText™ Active Intelligence can check the quality of all inbound transactions and this effectively places a firewall around your business applications. OpenText recently undertook some research to calculate the 1% gain for each of the above six B2B improvement areas, let me give you an example relating to transaction automation. The findings from this research are available to download. Most organizations understand the need for an effective B2B integration platform, however research undertaken by Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum showed that 50% of information being exchanged between trading partners still travels by fax, email or even phone. Simply automating more transactions will reduce cost, reduce errors while speeding the order-to-cash cycle and improving inventory performance. The 1% gain, when you exchange 1,000,000 documents a year, with paper documents costing $14 to process versus electronic being $7, trading just 1% more documents electronically could save your business $70,500 per year. Now this is just one example and if you want to find out how applying B2B integration tools to the other five areas can potentially save your business over $1M per year then please visit the campaign site where you can view an on-demand webinar on Marginal Gains and download a white paper which goes into much more detail on how this performance enhancing theory can improve the efficiency of your supply chain operations.

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How B2B Integration Increases Supply Chain Resilience

supply chain resilience

Managing disruption is a constant challenge across today’s global supply chains and one of my presentations at our Enterprise World 2016 conference discussed some of the ways in which B2B integration can help improve the resilience of today’s supply chain operations. Let me step back for a few moments and remind you of why managing disruption across today’s supply chains has become such a high priority for many businesses around the world. In 2011, global supply chains were severely impacted by two major natural disasters, the earthquake in Japan and the floods in Thailand. These events triggered a number of supply chain improvement initiatives around the world which included both operational and information management improvements. Supply chain disruptions over the past five years have brought an element of nervousness to many companies and regulatory bodies have been looking more closely at how companies recover from disasters and what plans they have put in place to try and minimize future supply chain disruptions. Ten years ago companies were focused on disaster recovery however today things have moved on and companies are more interested in how they keep their businesses running during a period of disruption. This process is referred to as Business Continuity Management and this has been one of the fastest growing areas, in terms of supply chain related roles, that companies have been trying to fill in recent years. Business continuity management essentially provides an ability to recover from any given event and this area is certainly becoming important from a competitive differentiation point of view. The person fulfilling this role could also be referred to as the ‘Master of Disaster’, a single point person within a company that employees can go to during a period of disruption and who would be responsible for managing disruption related business processes. As part of business continuity management improvements, companies, especially manufacturers, implemented a number of operational based improvements to their global supply chain operations. For example near shoring production operations, moving production to new markets unaffected by natural disasters, implementing dual sourcing strategies and establishing ‘global plant floors’ so that if production was impacted in one country then production could be ramped up quickly at another location to compensate. You can find more information on these operational related initiatives in an earlier blog. From a B2B and information management point of view, companies have restructured their ICT environments to make them more resilient to future supply chain disruptions. Since 2011, OpenText has seen interest from Japanese customers keen to move away from their home grown software based B2B environments hosted in Japanese data centers to cloud based environments, with information being held in data centers located around the world. For example, a number of Japanese consumer electronic manufacturers have taken the opportunity to not only move their B2B operations to the cloud, but to consolidate numerous legacy B2B networks onto OpenText™ B2B Managed Services platform as well. In addition to moving to the cloud, companies have understandably improved their data backup and recovery processes, improved supplier contact and collaboration processes and looked at ways to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility. In essence, companies have really focused on three key areas relating to improving information management, namely improving flexibility of their B2B infrastructures, improving visibility and improving collaboration. Despite the best efforts of many Japanese manufacturers to improve the resilience of their supply chain operations, a 7.3 earthquake hit southern Japan on 16th April 2016 and this had a major impact on global supply chains. For example Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Bridgestone, Sony and Renesas had to idle their plants to evaluate damage. In addition, the earthquake damaged two Aisin Seiki factories which make body components and die-cast engine parts for Nissan. Further afield, due to restricted parts supply from Japan, Nissan’s UK plant had to implement non-production days and in North America, GM had to idle plants two weeks after the earthquake took place. So this is a good example of how an earthquake can impact manufacturing operations and how disruption ripples around global supply chain infrastructures. It also demonstrates that despite best efforts, further improvements can be made to supply chain disruption management procedures. OpenText has a broad range of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions and based on technology that OpenText deployed in its Election Tracker to monitor public sentiment to the candidates in the US Presidential Elections, I wanted to see if the same technology could be used to help provide improved management of supply chain disruption situations. In summary, the scenario and solution I am now going to discuss in the remainder of this blog, a Disruption Management Solution (DMS), offers a highly graphical and intuitive method for reviewing major supply chain disruptions, identifying impacted suppliers and initiating orders with alternative suppliers where required. I will stress that the following is all conceptual in nature, but the underlying technology to access and present information exists within OpenText’s EIM portfolio of solutions today. In the first screenshot shown below, The DMS dashboard home page consists of two main areas, firstly a window on the left providing a direct feed from recognized and trustworthy news sources highlighting three types of disruption, namely earthquakes, tsunamis and social unrest situations. OpenText™ InfoFusion is used to search natural disaster related websites (news feeds and government agencies) and this information is aggregated and then displayed in the corresponding tab for review. The right hand window is a map plug in, which would be overlaid with various pieces of information from a manufacturer’s supply chain operations. Screen 1 – Impact of Earthquake on Global Plant Locations The DMS, via the InfoFusion connected panel on the left, has detected a significant 6.9 earthquake and the longitude and latitude coordinates of the earthquake are compared with all global plant locations. The plant locations are geo-tagged and highlighted by way of the red pins which are overlaid across the map. The nearest plant to the detected earthquake is located in Bangkok, Thailand. Clicking on the white ‘Thailand’ box shown on the map will take you to screen 2 below. This part of the DMS shows a closer view of the selected disruption location, in this case Bangkok. InfoFusion has populated the two windows to the bottom left, identifying the location, disruption type and scale. The panel to the top right outlines the availability of the local transport infrastructure, namely airports, road infrastructure, rail networks and sea ports. InfoFusion would be used to scour relevant government information services to determine the health of these transportation infrastructures and could supplement this information by reviewing relevant news feeds or social media sites such as Twitter. Once the ‘state’ of each transportation network has been identified then it is graphically displayed via OpenText™ Big Data Analytics (BDA) solution. InfoFusion would poll these news sources at a predetermined frequency and the analytics based graphics panel would be updated accordingly. In a similar way InfoFusion would scour the 3PL news sources and provider websites for information on the health of their service and a simple traffic light system is colour coded accordingly to denote the condition of their logistics infrastructure. In this example, UPS would be the only unaffected 3PL provider. Screen 2 – Identification of Impacted Suppliers The map has automatically zoomed into the disrupted area. The contact information for every supplier is held within OpenText™ Active Community, this includes office or plant location addresses. This contact information can be exported, via an API, as an XML file from Active Community at a predetermined frequency, but at a minimum of once a day to ensure that any newly onboarded trading partners can be accounted for. The adjustable scroll bar underneath the map allows the user to determine which suppliers have potentially been impacted near to the disruption zone. The scroll bar allows the user to select different distances from the epi-centre of the disruption, in this case a 6.9 earthquake. The selected 25 mile radius from the epicentre of the earthquake is then cross referenced against all the supplier locations exported from Active Community. Where there is a match a geo-tagged red pin has been overlaid across the map. In this case we have seven impacted suppliers. We can now select one of the seven highlighted suppliers and review which orders are likely to be impacted, the user selects the red impacted orders button and they are then taken to screen 3. Screen 3 – Identification of Alternate Suppliers The orders from the selected supplier chosen in screen 2 are listed below the map and the associated order information would be extracted from OpenText™ Active Orders. There are seven impacted orders that will need to be addressed, ie alternative parts suppliers will need to be identified quickly. The user would select one order from the list and then select the alternate supplier button where five alternative suppliers are listed (and highlighted as green geo-tagged green pins on the map). The user would then review the list of alternate suppliers and depending on chosen criteria, for example fastest delivery time, can then select the most appropriate supplier to fulfill the order requirement for the Bangkok plant location. In terms of the benefits that this executive dashboard could provide: Earlier warning of the likely impact of part shortages across a supply chain Faster understanding of the potential impact of supply chain disruptions across both internal and external supply chain operations, e.g the condition of logistics networks Faster decision making and contingency plans to be executed so for example alternative suppliers  can be identified quickly so as to minimize plant downtime Ultimately aim to minimize supply chain disruptions and avoid production downtime I have only provided a high level overview of the DMS concept in this blog post, learn more about B2B integration and how it provides increased levels of flexibility, visibility and collaboration.

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Unlock the Value of Your Supply Chain Through Embedded Analytics

supply chain analytics

Over the past few months I have posted a couple of blogs relating to the use of analytics in the supply chain. The first one really discussed the ‘why’ in terms of the reasons for applying analytics to supply chain operations, Understanding the Basics of Supply Chain Analytics. The second blog discussed the ‘how’, in terms of the methods of obtaining meaningful insights from B2B transactions flowing between trading partners, Achieve Deeper Supply Chain Intelligence with Trading Grid Analytics. The blogs were written in support of our recently announced OpenText™ Trading Grid Analytics, one of the many Business Network related offerings in Release 16. Release 16 is the most comprehensive set of products to be released by OpenText to enable companies to build out their digital platforms and enable a better way to work. Now those that have followed my blogs over the years will know that I have worked with many analyst firms to produce white papers and studies and I guess it was only appropriate that I should be fortunate to work with an outside analyst on a thought leadership white paper relating to analytics in the supply chain. I engaged with IDC to write a paper entitled, Unlock the Value of Your Supply Chain Through Embedded Analytics. IDC has been producing some interesting content over the years in support of their ‘Third Platform’ model which embraces IoT, cloud, mobile and big data and how companies can leverage these technologies for increased competitive advantage. The aim of our new analytics related white paper was to discuss the business benefits of embedding analytics into the transaction flows across a business network. Compared to other business intelligence and end user analytics solutions, OpenText is in a unique position as we own our Business Network and we are able to introspect the 16 billion EDI transactions flowing across our network. IDC leveraged a relatively new management theory called VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity to discuss how analytics can bring better insights into business operations. VUCA was originally defined in the military field and for our paper IDC aligned VUCA so that it leverage against a more connected, information-centric and synchronized business network, namely Velocity, Unity, Coordination and Analysis. I am not going to highlight too much content from the paper but here is one interesting quote from the paper. “It is the view of IDC that the best supply chains will be those that have the ability to quickly analyze large amounts of disparate data and disseminate business insights to decision makers in real time or close to real time. Businesses that consistently fail to do this will find themselves at an increasing competitive disadvantage and locked into a reactionary cycle of firefighting. Analytics really will be the backbone of the future of the supply chain.” Now I am not going to spoil the party by revealing any more from the paper!, if you would like to learn more then please register for our webinar, details are provided below. If you would like to get further insights about the white paper then OpenText will be hosting a joint webinar with IDC on 27th July 2016 at 11 am EDT, 5pm CET. This 40 minute webinar will allow you to: Understand how embedded analytics can provide deeper supply chain intelligence Learn how the VUCA management theory can be applied to a supply chain focused analytics environment and the expected business benefits that can be obtained Find out why it is important to have trading partners connected to a single business network environment to maximize the benefits of applying analytics to supply chain operations Learn how OpenText can provide a cloud based analytics environment to support your supply chain operations You can register for the webinar here.

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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. You can also learn more about the benefits of supply chain analytics.

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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

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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