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.

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

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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

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

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OpenText Discusses 2016 Supply Chain Technology Predictions with Santa Claus


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

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OpenText to Attend Odette 2015 in Munich


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

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How Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Enhance Future Business Networks


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

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

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

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How the OpenText Cloud Develops Greener Supply Chains [Infographic]

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

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Twenty Good Reasons Why Manufacturers Should Attend Enterprise World This Year

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

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

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

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Enterprise World to Showcase Disruptive Technologies Impacting the Digital World


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

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

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

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How IoT Based Analytics Will Drive Future Supply Chain Operations


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

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


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

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