B2B Integration

How to Identify the Return on Investment of Big Data (Infographic)


If you are a CIO, you know what goes on at a board of directors meeting. This is not the place to be confused when your CEO asks you a simple, commonly asked question, which requires a simple, accurate answer: “What is the ROI of Big Data costs?” Let’s be honest, Big Data is a big, painful issue. It is often recommended to use just a little information in your dashboard if you want to be heard. But at the same time, you want this information to be accurate, right? That’s when you are happy that your data is big. Why is data size so important? Data scientists, for instance, are always asking for big data because they know how predictive analysis can easily be inaccurate if there isn’t enough data on which to base your predictions. We all know this when it comes to the weather forecast – it is the same when it comes to risk anticipation or sales opportunities identification. What’s really new is how easily any software can access big data. If 90% of the world’s data today has been created in the last 2 years alone, what can we expect in the near future?  For starters, the Internet of Things is anticipated to hugely increase the volumes of data businesses will have to cope with. ROI is all about results. Big data is here to stay and bigger data is coming, so the best we can do is to make it worth the trouble. “Cloud is the new electricity,” according to the latest IT Industry Outlook published by CompTIA. But I don’t have good news for you, if you feel comfortable just planning to move your data to the cloud. This is just the beginning. Experts often say that big data doesn’t have much value when simply stored; your spending on big data projects should be driven by business goals. So it’s not a surprise that there is increased interest in gaining insights from big data and making data-based decisions. In fact, advanced analytics and self-service reporting is what you should be planning for your big data. I’ll briefly tell you why: You need to support democratization of data integration and data preparation in the cloud You should enable software for self-service advanced and predictive analytics Big data insights and reporting should be put where they’re needed Why support democratization of data integration and data preparation in the cloud Big data analytics, recruiting talent and user experience top the CIO agenda for 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal; but these gaps will hardly be solved in time, because of the shortage of data-savvy people. Actually, according to analysts, there is an anticipated 100,000+  analytic talent shortage of people through to 2020. So, meanwhile CIOs find solutions to their own talent gaps; new software and cloud services appear in the market to enable business users to get the business insights and advance ROI of big data. Hopefully, someday, a data scientist can provide those insights but platforms like OpenText™ Big Data Analytics includes easy-to-use, drag-and-drop features to load and integrate different data sources from the front end or the back end, in the cloud. Now, I say hopefully because requirements for data scientists are no longer the same. Knowledge of coding is often not required. According to Robert J. Lake, what he requires from data scientists at Cisco is to know how to make data-driven decisions – that’s why he leaves data scientists to play with any self-service analytics tool that may help them to reach that goal. Data scientists spend around 80% of their time preparing data, rather than actually getting insights from it – so interest in self-service data preparation is growing. Leaving the data cleansing to data scientists may be a good idea for some of their colleages, but actually it is not a good idea in terms of agility and accuracy. That’s the reason why cloud solutions like Salesforce are appreciated, because it leaves sales people time to collaborate – adding, editing or removing information that will give a more precise view of their prospects, one that only they are able to identify with such precision. What if you could expect the same from a Supply Chain Management or Electronic Health Record, where data audits depends on multiple worldwide data sources, with distinct processes and with no dependency on data experts at all? In fact, 95% of organizations want end users to be able to manage and prepare their own data, according to noted market analyst Howard Dresner. Analysts predict that the next big market disruption is self-service data preparation, so expect to hear more about it in the near future. Why you should enable self-service advanced and predictive analytics Very small businesses may find desktop tools like Excel good enough for their data analysis, but after digital disruption these tools have become inadequate even for small firms. The need for powerful analytic tools is even greater for larger companies from data-intensive industries such as telecommunications, healthcare, or government. The columnar database has been proposed as the solution, as it is much speedier than relational databases when querying hundreds of millions or billions of rows. Speed of a cloud service is dependent on the volume of data as well as the hardware itself. Measuring the speed of this emerging technology is not easy but even a whole NoSQL movement is advising that relational databases are not the best future option. Companies have been able to identify the ROI of big data using predictive analytics to anticipate risk or forecast opportunities for years. For example, banks, mortgage lenders, and credit card companies use credit scoring to predict customers’ profitability. They have been doing this even when complex algorithms require data scientists, hard-to-find expertise, not just to build but to keep them running. That limits their spread through an organization. That’s why OpenText™ Big Data Analytics in the Cloud includes ad-hoc and pre-built algorithms like: Profile: If you are able to visualize a Profile of a specific segment of your citizens, customers or patients and then personalize a campaign based on the differentiation values of this segment, why would the ROI of the campaign not be attributed to the big data that previously stored it? Forecasting: If the cloud application is able to identify cross-selling opportunities and a series of campaigns are launched, the ROI of those campaigns could be attributed to the big data that you previously secured Decision Tree: You should be able to measure the ROI of a new process based on customer risk identification during the next fiscal year and attribute it to big data that you previously stored in the cloud Association Rules: You can report the ROI of a new recruitment requirement based on an analysis of job abandonment information and attribute it to big data that you had previously enabled as a self-service solution The greater the number of stars shown on the Forecast screenshot above, the stronger the evidence for non-randomness. This is actually when you are grateful for having so much information and having it so clean! Customer analytics for sales and marketing provide some of the classic use cases. Looking at the patterns from terabytes of information on past transactions can help organizations identify the reasons behind customer churn, the ideal next offer to make to a prospect, detect fraud, or target existing customers for cross-selling and up-selling. Put Big Data insights and reporting where they’re needed Embedded visualizations and self-service reporting are key to allow the benefits of data-driven decisions into more departments, because it doesn’t require expert intervention. Instead, non-technical users can spontaneously “crunch the numbers” on business issues as they come up. Today 74% of marketers can’t measure and report on the contribution of their programs to the business according to VisionEdge Marketing. Imagine that you as a CIO have adopted a very strong advanced analytics platform, but the insights are not reaching the right people – that is, in case of a hospital, the doctor or the patient. Let’s say the profile of the patient and drug consumption is available in someone’s computer, but that insight is not reachable by any user who can make the difference when a new action is required. The hospital’s results will never be affected in that case by big data and the ROI potential will not be achieved because the people who need the insights are not getting them, and the hospital will not change with or without big data. This is called invisible analytics. Consider route optimization of a Supply Chain – the classic “traveling salesman problem.” When a sizable chunk of your workforce spends its day driving from location to location (sales force, delivery trucks, maintenance workers), you want to minimize the time, miles, gas, and vehicle wear and tear, while making sure urgent calls are given priority. Moreover, you want to be able to change routes on the fly – and let your remote employees make updates in real-time, rather than forcing them to wait for a dispatcher’s call. Real-time analytics and reporting should be able to put those insights literally in their hands, via tablets, phones, or smart watches, giving them the power to anticipate or adjust their routes. OpenText™ Information Hub offers these capabilities as a powerful ad-hoc and built-in reporting tool that enables any user to personalize how their company wants information and the data visualization to be displayed. You should always ensure that the security and scalable capabilities of the tool you need is carefully selected, because in such cases you will be dealing not only with billions of rows, but also maybe millions of end users. As mentioned at the start of this blog, user experience is also at the top of the CIO’s agenda. True personalization that ensures the best user experience requires technology that can be fully branded and customized. The goal should be to adapt data visualizations to the same look and feel as the application to provide a seamless user experience. UPS gathers information at every possible moment and stores over 16 petabytes of data. They make more than 16 million shipments to over 8.8 million customers globally, receive on average 39.5 million tracking requests from customers per day, employ 399.000 people in 220 different countries. They spend $1 billion a year on big data but their revenue in 2012 was $ 54.1 billion. Identification of the ROI of big data is dependent on the democratization of the business insights coming from advanced and predictive analytics of that information. Nobody said it is simple but it can lower operating costs and boost profits, which every business users identifies as ROI. Moreover when line-of-business users rather than technology users are driving the analysis, and the right people are getting the right insight when they need it, improved future actions should feed the wheel of big data with the bigger data that is coming. And sure you want it to come to the right environment, right? Download the Internet of Things and Business Intelligence by Dresner The Internet of Things and Business Intelligence from Dresner Advisory Services is a 70-page research that provides a wealth of information and analysis, offering value to consumers and producers of business intelligence technology and services. The business intelligence vendor ratings include scores for location intelligence, end-user data preparation, cloud BI, and advanced and predictive analytics–all key capabilities for business intelligence in an IoT context. Download here.

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Building a Vendor Compliance Program That Improves Relationships – Seminar Series

vendor compliance

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

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

B2B integration

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

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OpenText Enterprise World 2016 – More Business Network!

Enterprise World

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

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Fax in Your B2B Digital Transformation


The journey of digital transformation. It’s likely that your supply chain has already started the trip. If not, then it’s very likely to start soon. Catalysts may be corporate events like mergers and acquisitions; initiatives like supply chain visibility; or IT projects like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system upgrade. Throughout the trip it’s important to consider your B2B partners — including distributors, transportation carriers, banks, insurance providers, or purchasing organizations — that help you deliver the level of quality in products or services that your customers expect. Your largest partners may already be on a similar journey of digital transformation so you can count on them to move forward with you, perhaps your mid-sized partners are as well, especially those with enough capacity or IT resources to support their B2B infrastructure. But what about your smallest partners? They may have little or no IT resources to support B2B processes and so rely on manual methods for invoices, purchase orders, delivery notices, and other B2B documents. To send these documents they will likely rely on a fax machine. If your business receives these faxes on a regular basis then you may have a community of small partners that could be left behind in the digital journey. It’s time to consider the fax in your B2B environment. According to a recent study, ‘The Current and Future State of Digital Supply Chain’, 48% of respondents rely on fax, phone, and email to interact with supply chain partners. That number reflects a vast amount of manual processes that could simply be accepted as the status quo. Businesses that seek to increase their visibility and transform their supply chain can lose sight of the fax—and the smallest partners as a result. With OpenText™ Fax2EDI, OpenText™ Business Network customers can automate fax-based processes with their trading partners. Cloud-based image capture services transform supply chain documents received via fax or email into machine-readable information, ready for integration into your back-office systems. So the next time you see a B2B document received through a fax machine consider the trading partner on the other end. Will they join in you in the transformation of your supply chain?

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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.

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What is a Business Network?

Business network

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

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Improving Vendor Compliance Through Deduction Management

vendor compliance

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

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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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Integrating Logistics Visibility into your Supply Chain Network


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

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Want to get your message across securely? Follow Sony’s CEO and fax it.

marketing, call centers

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is becoming the new poster boy for faxing. The executive recently revealed during a media industry conference that his fax machine is getting a lot of use these days, as he prefers to send hand-written notes via fax instead of sending an email. Lynton said he’s surprised by how quickly he can jot down a thought and fax it. While email may be even quicker, he explained that by taking a minute to put pen-to-paper and then sending a fax can be preferable to firing off emails in haste – the electronic version of speaking before thinking. The folks at Sony Entertainment have some experience in seeking out alternatives to email, following the hack of its network in 2014. As I mentioned in a recent blog on the topic, during the aftermath of the hack Sony employees took to picking up the phone, writing notes, and faxing in order to communicate with each other. Of these options, fax is the form of communication that can go from one party to the other safely and securely. Fax is a secure communication; so won’t be intercepted or hacked. A phone call can be overheard or recorded, and leaves a paper trail. Notes can be mislaid, stolen or confiscated, the latter possibly by an authority figure – cue those second-grade memories for some of us! A better alternative to fax machines is electronic faxing – no paper is required to send notes and other important content that you don’t want intercepted.  Learn more about how fax with cloud delivery is an ideal alternative to fax machines. What’s an executive to do? Fax, fax, fax.

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Understanding the Basics of Supply Chain Analytics

vendor compliance

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

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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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ON DIGITAL-First Fridays: It is a Network, Not a Chain


In the digital world the supply chain is not a chain, it’s a network. The network is made up of connections between businesses, suppliers, partners, and customers. The customer sits at the hub of this network, driving the supply chain, assembling goods and services from a variety of vendors. Participation is plug-and-play, with suppliers filling in gaps to deliver satisfying customer experiences. The customer experience is really only as good as the supply network that supports it. The “value chain” of the past has been replaced by the consumer’s “whole-life platform”. As part of this platform, consumers expect mass customization, same-day delivery, dynamic pricing, and real-time visibility. All of these expectations are impacting today’s supply chain (which is really a network). The full potential of Digital cannot be realized without reinventing the supply chain. In the digital world, supply networks are flexible, with fully integrated end-to-end processes and commerce. Low-cost suppliers and digital manufacturers have agility built into their production lines. Operations can scale rapidly—at a global level—so they are digitalized and run in the Cloud. New channels are used to serve new markets. The entire network is enriched through analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). There is visibility at all nodes in the graph. Analytics move beyond contributing to supply chain optimization, revealing customer preferences and new paths to value. Better decisions can be made, so that better products and services can be delivered, faster. The IoT will streamline the exchange of data and commerce across the network, with Business-to-Business (B2B) integration operating as the collaborative platform for managing global business transactions, securely and compliantly. Every high-performing supply chain is essentially a dynamic digital network. Over the next few years, more than half of the Global 2,000s will re-design their supply chains into networks to support digital business. The IoT will play a central role not only in creating wired, intelligent, and instrumented supply networks, but also a global, connected network. I’ll examine how in more detail my next post in this series. For more thoughts ON DIGITAL, download the book.  

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Enterprise Challenge #41 Only 182 of my 360 Degrees are in Focus

digital disrupt webinar

Like so many words in the English language, the word visibility can mean different things depending on the context. The Oxford Dictionary defines visibility as the “state of being able to see or be seen.” For example, when we see a weather report, visibility is the distance at which objects can clearly be seen. But what does it mean when discussing the supply chain? In the supply chain context, we can “see” visibility in a couple of ways to support the goal of driving a more efficient supply chain. Supply chain visibility is the ability to see what is happening now—to know the status of each and every order, shipment and invoice—especially when the status is ‘red’ and needs risk mitigation, or if there is an untapped opportunity to pursue. This visibility allows an enterprise to make quick adjustments to keep their supply chain moving. For instance, a manufacturer in Detroit, Michigan can send a purchase order to its supplier in Japan, receive an electronic document that the item is out-of-stock, and immediately react by sending the purchase order to an alternative supplier in Brazil – all in just minutes. Armed with this information, businesses can effectively manage bottlenecks, plan for delays, and proactively manage customer expectations. In short, they can resolve issues before they have a negative impact on business performance. Without this visibility, it could take days to realize your stock of an item is about to be depleted with no replacement on order – resulting in lost sales because of disrupted production schedules or failure to meet customer demand. This scenario assumes digital exchange of information to speed transaction flow and enable automation. That is what OpenText does. We provide solutions that enable the digital exchange of information between buyers, suppliers and other supply chain partners. OpenText B2B Managed Services handles the complexity of connecting to trading partners of all sizes and digital capabilities. And OpenText Trading Grid—the largest B2B network in the world—provides the Cloud foundation for global information exchange. Supply Chain Visibility is also the ability to look back and analyze performance over time (which, in turn, provides the foundation to look forward and predict). Buying organizations need visibility into frequency of order errors or late deliveries by suppliers. These metrics provide the information needed to help identify potential problems in the supply chain and make adjustments. For example, consider a reliable supplier who has more recently been missing delivery deadlines and sending incomplete orders. The supplier’s change in behavior may indicate a need to change terms with the supplier or, if the behavior continues, may indicate the need to consider alternative suppliers. Without this visibility, you could miss a seasonal sales opportunity – again resulting in lost sales – because you are relying on a supplier who has trouble meeting deadlines. To help with this visibility, OpenText has added supplier performance metrics to OpenText Active Orders. Active Orders enables digitizing and automating supply chain processes with small and medium-size suppliers that are not ready or able to implement traditional EDI or B2B integration through a simple, intuitive web portal. Data from digital trading partners can also be captured, giving you a complete view of all suppliers. With metrics on supplier performance, manufacturers are able to manage underperforming trading partners—ultimately mitigating risk to business performance—and determine the most strategic trading partners to do more business with.  

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New Resolution for Retailers in 2016: Take Charge of Your Chargebacks


How many errors and chargebacks are going through your distribution centers or system unchecked during this holiday season? There’s a significant chance it’s more than you expect. Consider the cost incurred when shipments arrive on incorrectly stacked palets, ASNs arrive invalid or late, and cartons have unscannable barcodes. All of this can be costing you millions. Based on our insight into the retail industry and speaking with our customers, on average 2% of your retail sales revenue is offset by chargebacks. Say, for example, your annual sales revenue is $5 billion and 50% of that revenue is earned during the holidays. That means you are experiencing $50 million in errors and chargebacks every year. What’s your estimated total? If you don’t have a complete deduction management process then it’s likely to be much higher than your actual amounts. Some retailers have in-house or legacy processes to identify and assess their chargebacks while others don’t have an established process at all. In both cases, it’s extremely likely that errors are slipping through your distribution centers or systems. Not only are the errors unaccounted for but there are missed opportunities to notify vendors and avoid similar errors for future shipments. The benefits of a complete deduction management solution go far beyond the cost offsets. Better communication with vendors means a better working relationship and avoidance of similar errors down the road. By combining communication with more timely and accurate data, retailers can achieve better transparency with their vendors. This can further strengthen the retailer-vendor relationship and ensure that products arrive on floors without any cause for delay. Improve your vendor compliance program in 2016. See how Stage Stores achieved both compliance and collaboration with its vendors in a recent OpenText Success Story.

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


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

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Drop Shipping Creates Opportunities and Challenges for Retailers


It is the busiest time of year for retailers as they focus on the final holiday shopping push.  To offer their customers a unique and wide assortment many retailers are expanding their drop ship/vendor direct channel to grow sales. This popular business model offers customers products that the retailer doesn’t stock, but can order from a distributor or manufacturer (supplier) and have it shipped direct to the consumer. This model helps the retailer because it doesn’t need to pre-order stock or store and manage items in their distribution/fulfillment centers. As you can imagine, retailers see a large increase in drop-ship orders during the holiday season. One OpenText customer is experiencing a 4x increase in these orders this holiday season. Drop ship, while a great business model, puts additional burden on the retailer and supplier to ensure transactions flow smoothly. Once the customer places the order on the retailer’s Web site, the retailer must place a corresponding order with the supplier with all the shipping information. And because the customer will want to know exactly when their order will be delivered, the supplier must provide all the necessary information so their customer knows the status of their order including tracking information that allows the customer to know exactly when their package is going to arrive. This is particularly important because the customer is placing the order with the retailer and it is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure the customer package arrives on-time and with the correct merchandise. OpenText provides retailers a complete solution for B2B integration that supports drop shipping – even supporting this process with non-digitally enabled suppliers through a web portal. With B2B integration, an online order from a customer can automatically generate an electronic order to the supplier, which the supplier can electronically acknowledge and accept. It should be noted that these are small individual orders – meaning that the value of the orders do not support manual processes for fulfillment. When the supplier ships the order to the customer, they can automatically generate and send the shipment information to the retailer, who can immediately use that information to update the customer confirming shipment and providing tracking information. In addition, OpenText provides visibility and proactive alerting that allows the retailer and supplier to be notified and take immediate action to correct any problems with a customer order.  This assures a smooth transaction flow from the retailer to supplier to their mutual customer. To learn more about B2B integration in Retail, you can read the whitepaper, Key Omnichannel Considerations for the Purchase Order Process.

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OpenText Discusses 2016 Supply Chain Technology Predictions with Santa Claus


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

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OpenText to Attend Odette 2015 in Munich


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

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How Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Enhance Future Business Networks


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

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ON DIGITAL-First Fridays: Disruption


Today’s digital disruptors are using technology to disintermediate entire industries and unseat corporate giants. New nomenclature has emerged to describe this transformational process. In the Internet Era, we talked about being “amazoned”. In the Digital Era, we are talking about being “ubered”. Uber has: Tapped into labor at mass scale Ripped down a hundred year history of “medallion” value Exposed and cured the inadequacies and inefficiencies of a major incumbent Made employee and employer one (though Uber claims it has no employees, we will see) Demonstrated the most perfect example of matching supply to demand that I have ever seen Operated a business in which cash is not used Every industry is vulnerable. Every incumbent is vulnerable. And burying your head in the sand won’t change the fact that disruption is all around us. A common thread to digital disruption is that the middleman is gone, in every industry. The average age of an Insurance Agent in the U.S. is 59. The middleman will be gone in Insurance over the next five years. Movies are direct. Music is direct. Insurance is direct. Logistics and supply chains are massively changing. Amazon is running algorithms on your buying behaviors. If you buy an outdoor table online, they are shipping an umbrella to a fulfillment center close by for same-day delivery. Uber is ultimately a logistics business. Salesforce redefined the partner ecosystem in software and services. Why do you need a middleman when you are selling a subscription service? Simple answer: you do not. Uber vs. the traditional taxi model, Netflix vs. Blockbuster… these are examples of how digital disruptors have unseated giants. Part of their success is due to the emergence of the Subscription Economy. In my next post in this series, I’ll explore how this model—pioneered by magazines and book-of-the-month clubs—has become a required part of business. For more thoughts ON DIGITAL, download the book.  

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Looking for ECM Inspiration? Enterprise World Elite Award Winners are the place to start!


Another Enterprise World has come and gone. For me, the biggest pleasure is always found in the chance to meet and connect with the actual people that make up our customer base. Yes, announcing massive product launches is a thrill, and hearing industry experts provide perspective on a rapidly changing landscape always provides its share of “aha!” moments, but it would all be kind of hollow if the real reason we do this wasn’t there to experience it with us and offer their feedback. That relationship with our customers is special. And, like an extended family reunion, Enterprise World is where we all get together and catch up on how everyone is progressing. There’s nothing better than hearing from an organization that’s utilized some combination of our product, our services, and/or our guidance to create a solution that has truly changed their operation for the better. Sometimes the impact is stunning, and the place to witness those shining stars is at Enterprise World’s annual Elite Awards celebration. And the Winners are… This year there were a number of winners who have implemented a wide variety of OpenText ECM solutions to amplify transformation within their enterprise. Congratulations to one and all! In the spirit of learning from the best, here are a few organizations that have definitely gone above and beyond in the ECM world: Alcatel-Lucent Global telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent is leading the charge in creating an ultra-connected, networked world; so it only stands to reason that their internal document management systems would set a benchmark for compliance, security, and accessibility. A combination of OpenText products achieved that, integrating seamlessly with their existing SAP environment. Almac Clinical Services Operating in the global pharma sector brings its own special kind of regulatory complexity. By implementing a single source of truth built around OpenText Content Server and Regulated Documents, Almac took control of their documentation with a solution that has been praised by external auditors and is powering international expansion. BNSF Railway OpenText Content Suite provides BNSF Railway with a solid enterprise content management platform that easily integrates with its other systems. Content Suite is used to manage and preserve historical legacy records, while also facilitating a robust records management platform to support search, retention and disposition requirements for enhanced corporate accountability.  Currently, over five million records, both digital and physical, are managed by Content Suite, supporting 1,000+ users across the enterprise. BNSF continues to build and develop further integrations to the platform to leverage and manage its critical business content. Continental Resources Using integrated solutions from OpenText, SAP, and other systems, Continental Resources is realizing end-to-end business value for substantial organizational efficiencies and cost savings. The automated processes improve business performance and have resulted in significant and measurable time savings. Business content is captured, managed, stored, preserved and delivered to the right user, at the right time, streamlining systems and processes throughout the company. DDR Owning and managing 130 million square feet of retail floor space requires a highly streamlined process for handling the huge volume of leasing activity documents. DDR went all in, implementing a diverse array of OpenText products to create a custom document management system that’s fast, organized, and fully integrated with Salesforce®. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) NZTA embarked on its digital transformation journey by building a solid foundation for its ‘InfoHub’ Enterprise Content Management as a Service solution from OpenText. The cloud-based solution offers users anytime, anywhere access to information assets, enhancing the ability to share and collaborate, internally and externally with partners and alliances. InfoHub has transformed the way NZTA harnesses its knowledge. The benefits include improved quality of service and performance and process efficiencies. SBB (Swiss Federated Railways) As operators of the most heavily used rail network in the world, SBB know a thing or two about efficiency, timeliness, and accuracy. That’s why they integrated OpenText solutions into their SAP®-based vendor management infrastructure to drive remarkable gains in digitalization, centralization, and productivity. And there’s a lot more where that came from These are just some of the highlights from an incredible year of customer participation in our new Elite Program. Taking part in it is a singular opportunity for customers and partners to share their story and be recognized as industry leaders. Truth is, though, all of our customers have an intriguing story that makes them champions in their own right. Their dedication to furthering their enterprises with progressive thinking and innovative solutions never ceases to amaze. I invite you to spend some time perusing our larger library of Customer Success Stories, as well. It’s an excellent resource of best practices, winning combinations, and digital reinvention that has something for everyone, regardless of their role or industry. It’s worth a look. You just never know when inspiration will strike.

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

OT ECR TAG - 071115

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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The Backstage Pass to OpenText Suite 16 & OpenText Cloud 16


We just shared some huge news with our attendees here at Enterprise World in Las Vegas: we’ve presented an exclusive future roadmap unveiling OpenText Suite 16 and OpenText Cloud 16—the next generation of our EIM offerings that will become available March 2016. We shared a lot of details about Suite 16 and Cloud 16 in our press release (you can read it here), but we couldn’t fit in all the thinking that went into this release. Strategic principles of OpenText Suite 16 & Cloud 16 From what we’ve experienced and from what our customers tell us they want and need, we came up with a dream list of innovations for an enterprise to make the most of digital disruption. We focused on that list of strategic principles across our entire Suite 16 and Cloud 16 offerings. Below is what was going through our heads: 1. Deepen functionality across all suites. This is a major release, full of new features and innovations. Keeping in mind our customers’ suggestions, we significantly deepened functionality throughout the offerings. Practically every product line is raising the bar in terms of customer value proposition and competitive differentiation. Check out the press release for some of the highlights, and watch for more details as we launch the new suites and cloud offerings in March. 2. Help customers transition to the cloud. Right off the top, we wanted to be sure to offer all of our suites in the cloud, available as a subscription or as managed cloud services. That was a must-do, but then we took it further and added integration with other cloud products such as Salesforce® and Office 365®. We also added new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, such as OpenText Core, PowerDocs, and Archive Center, to enable as much flexibility and savings as possible—customers want what they need, and no one wants to pay for more than they need. 3. Focus on user experience and remove barriers to user adoption. Enterprise productivity begins by removing the barriers to adoption—the easier it is to use, the more they use it—so we invested heavily in improving the user experience across all the suites (in the browser as well as on mobile devices). We put a big focus on HTML5-based responsive experience, and customers who got to preview the new UI of products such as Content Suite or Media Management this week are raving about it. The improved user experience is one of the most noticeable innovations in Suite 16 and Cloud 16. In fact, this alone makes upgrading worthwhile. 4. Integrate with more enterprise applications and across the suites (with an extra focus on analytics). We’ve added integration with more enterprise apps, like Salesforce and SuccessFactors®, in addition to SAP®, Oracle®, and Microsoft®. And there is major integration between the suites. For example, OpenText Process Suite fully integrates with OpenText Content Suite, Archive Center, Media Management, Capture Center, CCM—speaking of CCM, that integrates with OpenText WEM, DAM, CS, Notifications…it goes on and on across all the suites, enabling us to solve customer problems no other vendor can solve. We also put an extra focus on analytics, which is itself a new suite, and it’s embedded into all the other suites, which brings out even more value from existing deployments. 5. Deliver information flows as a way to solve complex problems. All the products in the world are not going to solve real business problem if they’re not integrated in a way that follows the logical flow of information through the business processes and applications. That’s why we focus on the core information flow from information-centric flows, such as capture-to-disposition, create-to-consume, and incident-to resolution, all the way to business flows such as procure-to-pay. For more efficient information flows, we’ve added automation to the Procure-to-Pay business process and delivery of P2P and a new entity-modeling layer in the Process Suite platform, and we’ve extended process-centric collaboration and information sharing. 6. Provide more value from existing deployments. When you can get more value out of existing deployments, you reduce the total cost of ownership. New capabilities, pervasive use of analytics, new UI, focus on cost of ownership, cloud delivery, and subscription-based pricing bring more flexibility and value to the enterprise. Each of these strategic principles makes upgrading to Suite 16 and Cloud 16 worthwhile. This is a milestone release that existing customers will love and want to upgrade to. Read more about OpenText Suite 16 and OpenText Cloud 16 here, and let me know what you think about it.

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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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CIO Review Selects OpenText in top 20 Most Promising Supply Chain Providers


OpenText was recently honored by CIOReview in the October issue, where the 20 most promising supply chain technology solution providers were announced. The inclusion of OpenText demonstrates the significant, positive impact that customers are experiencing with B2B integration solutions. To decide on the top 20 providers, CIOReview analyzed literally hundreds of supply chain solution providers and then shortlisted those companies at the forefront of tackling the challenges in the supply chain arena. A distinguished panel comprising of CEOs, CIOs and analysts, including CIOReview’s editorial board, selected the final list of Supply Chain Tech Solution Providers 2015. Their selection was based on the vendor’s capability to offer cutting edge technologies and solutions that add value to the supply chain landscape. The OpenText Trading Grid integration platform and OpenText B2B Managed Services provide a powerful combination of technology, people and processes to transform B2B integration programs in companies around the world. CIOReview interviewed Marco de Vries, Senior Director of Product Marketing, and expert in B2B integration. Marco offers insights in the interview on how B2B integration positively impacts an organization’s agility, profitability and growth. The article also discusses how Alstom Power is using OpenText B2B Managed Services and Active Orders to improve supply chain integration. The full Alstom case study can be viewed here. You can read the full CIOReview article here.  

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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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