B2B Integration

You’ve got Experience, Share it in our Survey

P2P automation survey

P2P automation survey opportunity – if you are involved in supply chain management or procurement, you will more than likely have experiences with, and opinions about, the business benefits of supply chain automation and digitizing procure-to-pay (P2P) processes. We would love to hear them. Supply Chain Insights is conducting a survey to help frame the impact that P2P can have on the supply chains of manufacturing, retail, and wholesale organizations. You could be a thought leader by contributing your experiences in this important conversation. It will only take a few minutes of your time. By participating in the conversation and taking the survey, you will be rewarded for your time. Firstly, you will receive your own copy of the survey results. Secondly, you will be invited to participate in a round-table discussion about the survey results and the business benefits of P2P. We look forward to sharing the results with you. In the meantime if you would like to read more about P2P, take a look at What Differentiates a “Best in Class” P2P Solution From the Rest?  which features different solution scenarios, the characteristics of each and the advantages of using a “best in class” solution.

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Pay Attention to B2G eInvoicing Mandates

B2G einvoicing mandates

Governments around world are seeking to save time and money by requiring electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) for all business-to-government (B2G) billing. These B2G eInvoicing mandates require that businesses providing goods and services to any government entity – educational, medical, transportation, local and federal offices – must eInvoice. B2G eInvoicing Mandates in the European Union The European Parliament created Directive 2014/55/ EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. This directive requires that EU countries define rules for electronic invoices in public procurement processes by Nov. 27, 2018. This means governments must have a defined plan for public institutions to accept electronic invoices as a method of billing. In the meantime, the directive mandates the creation of a standard for the semantic data model of the core elements of an electronic invoice. (The ‘European standard on electronic invoicing’). This work is now taking place. When the standard has been published, reviewed and finalized, member countries have 18 months to receive electronic invoices in the standard format. Legislation in France Not all countries are waiting for the standard to be published. In France Order No. 2014-697 makes it mandatory for businesses to issue invoices to public entities in electronic format. In addition, this order makes it mandatory for all State*, local authorities, and public institutions to accept eInvoices. The rollout of mandated B2G einvoicing in France commences in January 2017 and will be enforced in stages, starting with large businesses. However, eInvoicing isn’t just about complying with B2G or tax authority mandates. It is about transaction communication and enabling automated processing of digital documents. Billentis estimates that eInvoicing saves money in five categories of processing costs – capture, quality assurance, routing and circulation, reporting and filing and payment for an overall potential saving of 60%. If you need to reduce invoicing costs and comply with regulatory mandates, OpenText can help. OpenText is the global leader in B2B integration solutions, with the largest B2B network processing 18B transactions per year. We help organizations digitally connect for commerce. Our eInvoicing compliance solution provides tax compliance for eInvoicing in more than 40 countries. It also connects you to several European governments who have mandated eInvoicing, including France and Italy. Learn more about eInvoicing. * Except in the case of defense or national security.

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Get Started on the Path to B2B Integration Maturity Now

B2B integration maturuty

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World (now part of Gartner). We set out to learn what constitutes B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The research paper, available here, lays out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. In previous posts we’ve looked at the steps, and the value of progressing along the path. The last portion of the report makes some specific recommendations for getting started and advancing along the B2B integration path. It’s time to get started now on the path to B2B integration maturity. When advancing business-to-business integration, an organization’s focus must be on the journey as much as it is on the destination. The B2B integration path framework is designed with the journey in mind, helping organizations to define and measure progress for themselves. A well-planned B2B integration deployment concurrently addresses issues such as working capital and process efficiency by aligning the three elements of people, technology and process to create tangible business value. SCM World Recommendations Extend the network. The very nature of B2B integration requires working with extended business networks. Purely introspective perspectives lead to the continuation of the status quo, whereas broadened perspectives create mutually beneficial opportunities now, and in the future. It is important to: Build capabilities and track progress. Mechanisms are available to accelerate progress and build the key capabilities needed to create sustainable advancements in B2B integration. In evaluating how building these capabilities enables future business growth, consider if it is best to build and maintain in-house capabilities or if it is better to partner with, or outsource to, specialists who focus on B2B integration tools and technology? Start the process. To begin the journey, companies must develop segmented business integration strategies that allow for immediate execution, as well as further advancement potential in the future. Learn and grow together with trading partners. Leverage experts outside your business; and Embrace the dynamism and fluidity of B2B integration as a long-term growth opportunity. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4 What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5 Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

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

B2B integration

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

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

marginal gains

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

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Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

B2B integration maturity

An efficient supply chain is a competitive advantage. Part of achieving efficiency is automation based on B2B integration between buyers and suppliers. A recent report from SCM World entitled “The B2B Integration Path: A Roadmap for Business Value Generation” found that companies who had achieved a higher stage of B2B integration maturity experienced greater efficiency as measured by inventory turns, days sales outstanding, expedited orders, and cash conversion cycle. Only 16% of the respondents in the survey scored at stage 4 or “relational” stage. No company in the survey has achieved the highest stage of the B2B integration maturity path – the “generative” stage. The full report, available here, lays out the complete path to maturity. Moving from “Analytical” to “Relational” The third stage (analytical) of B2B integration maturity path is where companies begin to gain “collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data.” At the fourth stage (relational) companies have built a responsive network, with integration of most trading partners across multi-tier demand and supply networks. For more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity. So how do move you from stage 3 to 4? According to our survey, which looks at three aspects of maturity – people, process and technology, there are several things that distinguish stage 4 from stage 3 companies. People In the people aspect, stage 4 companies are differentiated by shifts in decision making and business justification. First, stage 4 companies are more centralized in their B2B integration decision making with 32% more companies stating they have comprehensive multi-enterprise decision alignment. This means B2B integration decisions extend to trading partners up and down the supply chain. Second, the justification for integration B2B activities shifts to one that encourages collaborative business growth among partners, with 74% of stage 4 companies naming this as their justification, compared to only 15% at stage 3. Process In terms of process, there is an improvement in error reporting, shifting from a reactive process to real-time reporting (50% of respondents at stage 4 vs. 33% at stage 3) and possibly automated exception management (a 13% increase from stage 3 to 4, to 33%). Stage 4 companies see a shift toward real-time processing of digital transaction with 43% reporting they have achieved this speed, while that was true for only 2% of stage 3 companies. Technology There are three noticeable technology differences between companies at stages 3 and 4. First, companies at stage 4 increase the availability of metrics reporting, moving from standard KPIs published at scheduled intervals, to predictive analytics spanning a multi-tier demand and supply network. (25% of respondents at stage 4, vs. 4% at stage 3). The second difference was an improvement in data collection and organization. 62% of stage 4 companies reported they had comprehensive multi-enterprise data integration, compared to only 8% at stage 3. Finally, stage 4 companies differ from stage 3 in the capabilities for compliance and audit, with 35% more stage 4 companies reporting they had a networked compliance management system. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4 What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

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What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

B2B integration

A common question that B2B integration services provider are asked is “What are other companies doing for B2B integration?” When talking about B2B integration maturity, we want to know how we compare with our peers. In fact, the definition of being mature is being ahead of our peers. This post, based on a recent report from SCM World entitled “The B2B Integration Path: A Roadmap for Business Value Generation” is about what companies in the middle of the maturity model are doing, and how they got there. 70% of the respondents were scored as being at the middle or analytical stage – making this “average B2B integration maturity” for comparison purposes. The full report, available here, lays out the complete path to maturity. Moving from “Informative” to “Analytical” The second stage (informative) of B2B integration maturity is where companies have to engage digitally with a few key trading partners, so supply chain visibility is limited. In the third stage (analytical), organizations begin to gain “Collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data.” For more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity. So how does a company move from stage 2 to 3? According to our survey, which looks at three aspects of maturity – people, process and technology – there are several things that distinguish stage 3 companies from stage 2 companies. People There are two noticeable people differences between companies at stages 2 and 3. First, companies at stage 3 have developed functional or cross-functional B2B expertise. While only 29% of companies at stage 2 had developed B2B expertise, 78% of companies at stage 3 had. The second difference was the use of dedicated B2B staff. At 61% of stage 2 companies, all B2B staff were shared resources and only 17% had any dedicated staff. But only 22% had no dedicated resources and 78% had at least a few dedicated B2B staff members. Process In the process area, stage 3 companies are differentiated by a significant increase in the percentage of trading partners who are digitally connected and by a reduction in on-boarding times for new digital partners. In the survey, only 34% of companies at stage 2 connect digitally with more than 20% of trading partners, but at stage 3 that percentage rises to 83%. 68% of stage 2 companies report on-boarding taking more than four weeks for a new trading partner and none of the companies at stage 2 could on-board a new trading partner in less than two weeks. While at stage 3, 60% could on-board partners in less than four weeks and 23% had reduced the time down to less than two weeks. Technology In terms of technology, the first shift is in terms of standardization of tools. For 62% of stage 2 companies, the B2B integration toolset is undefined. But the toolset is undefined for only 10% of stage 3 companies. Instead, 44% of stage 3 companies report that core tools are defined and usage is locally consistent and another 42% report that core tools are defined and used consistently across multiple locations. Stage 3 represents a big move away from paper, fax, phone and email as transaction models, with only 11% saying that is their primary model, while 45% of stage 2 companies make that claim. There is a big shift to EDI and Portals with 14% of stage 2 companies reporting that most transactions occur via those modes, while 50% of stage 3 companies have reached that goal. Finally, companies moving from stage 2 to stage 3 report greater levels of ERP integration for transactions with 90% of stage 2 companies having no ERP integration or only have integrated a few transaction types. 61% of stage 3 companies have integrated with ERP for most or all transaction types.   Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3 First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4  

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First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4

B2B Maturity

Maturing your B2B integration program is definitely a journey. When OpenText commissioned SCM World to conduct a survey companies from all over the world, we were looking for a path companies could follow on their journey. Our goal was to help supply chain, operations and customer service executives see a path for B2B maturity. The full report, available here, lays out a path to maturity. Taking the first step The first stage of B2B integration maturity is where transactions are executed in siloed, reactive processes reliant on manual technology. In the second stage, organizations begin to transact digitally with a limited number of key trading partners. (for more on the definitions of the stages, read my post on the 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity). So how do you make that first move? According to our survey, which looks at 3 aspects of B2B maturity – people, process and technology – there are several things that distinguish stage 2 companies from stage 1 companies. People There are two big people differences between companies at stage 1 and 2. First, there is a shift in decision about B2B integration from internal silos (100% of respondents at level 1) to a centralized structure (48% of respondents at level 2). Second, the emphasis for integrated B2B activities moves from completion of tasks (100% of respondents at level 1) to consistency and accuracy (48% of respondents at level 2) and driving awareness of business performance (16% of respondents at level 2). Process At level 2, processes move from being siloed and disaggregated (100% of respondents at level 1) to being connected (82% of companies at level 2). Additionally, the frequency of process digitization increases beyond 25% of B2B transactions (100% of respondents at stage 1) to between 25-89% of transactions processed digitally (41% of stage 2 respondents). Technology In terms of technology, we begin to move from informal and unstructured information exchanges to unilateral exchanges. In the survey, 39% of companies have taken this first action in moving from the transactional (step 1) to the informative (step 2), with another 26% taking more advanced actions. Also, companies began to move from manual transactions with non-digital partners via non-digital means, such as a phone or fax machine to a standardized template (53% increase in respondents from step 1 to 2) or some level of digitization (12% more responses at step 2 vs step 1). Don’t forget to get your copy of the full report here. Previous posts in this series: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2 The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3

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The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3

B2B Integration Maturity

In partnership with OpenText, SCM World conducted a survey of 115 companies from all over the world. The goal was to guide supply chain, operations and customer service executives on the journey to integrating and automating B2B resources, specifically people, technology and processes. The full report, available here, lays out a path to maturity., while the excerpt below features the section of the report which summarizes the current B2B integration maturity landscape. SCM World’s B2B integration maturity survey yielded 115 responses from companies representing the automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), hi-tech, industrial and life sciences industries, among others.  (More on industry results in my next blog post). The percentage of responses by maturity level represents a relatively normal distribution, centered on an overall average maturity of 2.8, as shown in Figure 5 below. If you missed my post on the definitions of the steps – read it here. The largest group of respondents falls in the Analytical (step 3) category on the B2B integration path. Here, demand and supply use cases come together, beginning the multi-tier integration found in progressive steps. The supply chain data available is more than just simple information, and can be analysed more extensively to generate new business insight. Few companies have separated themselves from their peers at the lead along the B2B integration path. 16% of responding companies achieved an overall score greater than 3.4; only 2% scored at or above 4.0. What separates these companies is their Relational (step 4) approach to B2B integration. Here, the focus shifts towards a real-time approach that keeps pace with what is driving the business. Common toolsets and processes are leveraged to drive collaboration upstream and downstream across a growing network of suppliers and customers. Also notable is the move toward partnerships in managing B2B integration operations. CAPABILITY ADVANCEMENT REQUIRES PARTNERSHIPS FOCUSED ON DEVELOPING COMPETENCIES Outsourcing at least part of your B2B integration operations accelerates the expansion of partner networks, enabling collaborative relationships with other leading companies that drive advancement of all elements in parallel. Of the Relational (step 4) companies, 63% of operations are either fully outsourced (25%) or utilise a hybrid of external and internal resources (38%), leaving less than 38% to be run solely with internal staff. The most consistently present qualities across all of the leaders on the path show that: B2B integration is justified by real-time collaboration with trading partners Cross-functional B2B expertise is more evident within IT and/or the line of business Supply chain data is collected and organised via a collaborative network reaching to at least direct customers and suppliers Fully integrated processes exist with customers and/or suppliers More than 70% of all B2B transactions are processed digitally Previous posts in this series worth a read: Don’t Be Immature – Impact Your Business With B2B Integration Maturity 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1 Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? – Pt 2

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Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The results, available in this blog, lay out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. For many organizations, B2B integration is just a means of doing business, a requirement to work with certain suppliers or customers. The survey revealed that companies who have achieved some level of B2B integration maturity have justified their B2B integration investments because it encourages collaborative business growth among partners. (Page 23 of the report) More importantly, the survey showed that the viewpoint of these companies was correct. Those companies who had mature B2B integration programs experienced tangible business benefits over those who did not. Here is an excerpt from the report: Initially, business need for B2B integration is understood, but often companies have yet to see sizeable improvements in business performance. For example, at the beginning of the B2B integration path: 61% have monthly inventory turns of one, or less 66% of companies at the lowest step have 61 days of sales outstanding (DSO), or more 33% are shipping outside of standard process by expediting at least 10% of orders As companies begin their advancement, they are accompanied by metrics improvements, (as shown in the chart below in this blog post). The trajectory of these metrics suggests that performance metrics are positively impacted as B2B integration matures. As companies advance to the analytical (step 3) and relational (step 4) steps on the B2B integration path, key improvements drawn from the study include: 72% of respondents experience savings of at least 20%, as compared to the costs of manual transactions More efficient order management, with 54% of companies expediting 5% of orders, or less Faster inventory turns, with 68% of companies achieving at least two inventory turns per month Better cash management, as 78% of companies at the highest step have 60 days of sales outstanding, or fewer Improvements in stock-out rate and perfect order percentage are also beneficial for advancing companies, as these metrics are reflective of supply chain agility and efficiency. This data coincides with decreased expediting costs, but more importantly creates revenue and profit opportunities by minimizing lost sales and optimizing product flow throughout the value chain. Where metrics have the potential to prove significant value to the business is in calculative metrics such as cash conversion cycle (CCC). The CCC is a conventional metric that, according to Investopedia, “indicates how efficiently management is using short-term assets (e.g. inventory) and liabilities to generate cash”. This is an especially important measure in volatile market conditions, as organizations are under intense pressure to maintain healthy balance sheets and strong cash flows. Ideally, a company’s CCC is as low as possible, with exceptional companies operating at a negative value, by effectively leveraging their supply chains to convert sales to cash prior to the actual transaction. Historically, only a few supply chain stalwarts have sustained a long-term negative CCC – among them Dell, Apple and Amazon. Using SCM World study data, the CCC is calculated for each step of the B2B integration path, based on the range of company responses. The results are quite clear: with each progressive step on the B2B integration path, there is an associated 2-3x improvement in cash conversion cycle. If you missed Part 1 of this series, read 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity.

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5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The research paper, available here, lays out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. A section of the paper that describes the five stages or steps is provided here. What is the B2B integration maturity path? Based on the results of this research, the B2B integration path framework was developed to trace progressive advancement of B2B integration maturity in organizations across key industries. The B2B integration path framework represents a five step journey for advancing B2B integration maturity by using SCM World study data to identify improvements that must be made to increase maturity in the elements of structure and people (people), tools and technology (technology), and process (process). In addition to enabling you to determine your organization’s current level of B2B integration maturity, the framework also allows you to compare your organization’s level of B2B integration maturity versus that of your peers, across industries and against the broader business community. Routes to maturity on the B2B integration path are varied. True progress is marked by the intersections created with simultaneous movement along the three elemental paths of people, technology and process. The five steps on the B2B integration path are defined as follows: Transactional. Tactical execution of siloed, reactive processes on manual technology Informative. Key trading partners engage in foundational business processes, with limited digital visibility Analytical. Collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data Relational. Responsive network, with integration of most trading partners across multi-tier demand and supply networks Generative. Profitable growth cycles driven by end-to-end digital integration throughout the value chain In my next post, I’ll talk about what the research says about the benefits of moving along the B2B integration path.

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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

fax

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

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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

DMI FEATURE IMAGE - 200316

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

B2B communications

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 waste and less time spent troubleshooting and fixing transactions.

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