B2B Integration

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

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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. 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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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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OpenText Launches New Solution to Accelerate Interoperability in Healthcare and Connect Caregiver Communities


Today, OpenText announced the availability of OpenText RightFax Healthcare Direct , an add-on module to OpenText RightFax that is poised to make a big difference in the healthcare market. This new solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate interoperability by enabling Direct messaging (a method of transmitting patient information in a secure, encrypted, electronic way over SMTP) using existing RightFax-EMR integrations. RightFax, the most widely used fax server in healthcare with the most EMR integrations, has long been the backbone by which healthcare providers send and receive patient documents via fax. By adding RightFax Healthcare Direct to their RightFax system, those same providers are able to expand beyond faxing to exchange Direct messages with other providers in their communities. With RightFax Healthcare Direct, healthcare organizations can: Send secure, encrypted Direct messages directly from their EMR system with no change to how they send faxes via RightFax today Receive and ingest Direct messages into their EMR system Continue to exchange faxes through RightFax with providers who are unable to exchange Direct messages today Closing the Technology Gap between Providers Direct messaging is an on-the-verge technology in healthcare as the next generation communication method for requesting and sending patient records in a secure, interoperable fashion. It allows healthcare providers to exchange patient records electronically as a secure, encrypted email transmission over SMTP, with rich message metadata with patient identifiers, improving atient care and driving efficiency back to providers. However, not all healthcare providers have widely adopted Direct messaging. And since fax is still the most preferred method of communication (by a large margin!), it is important that organizations have the ability to adopt Direct messaging at their own pace.RightFax with RightFax Healthcare Direct is uniquely positioned as a bi-modal IT solution that combines fax and Direct messaging in a single solution. Outbound faxes converted to outbound Direct messages: Using the industries only fax number to Direct address reverse directory (powered by Surescripts), if a Direct address is available for a given fax number, the patient document will be sent as a Direct message If no Direct address is available for a given fax number, the content will be sent as a fax via RightFax Organizations can also choose to send BOTH Direct messages and faxes (crawl-walk-run!) Connecting Caregiver Communities One of the largest barriers to the widespread adoption of Direct messaging is knowing which providers are ready to exchange Direct messages and how to find them. One of the truly unique features of RightFax Healthcare Direct is the ability to connect caregiver communities by an “invitation” that can be sent to every provider that receives a fax from a RightFax Healthcare Direct user. With an outbound communication, if no Direct address is available for a given fax number, the content is sent as a fax. This can trigger an automatic, customizable fax sent to this provider that “invites” them to register their fax number and Direct address in the reverse directory for RightFax Healthcare Direct or sign up for FREE Direct addresses to be able to receive Direct messages (supplied by RightFax Healthcare Direct partner Kno2). This invitation process provides a network effect and automatic outreach into the community, levitra to more easily exchange secure and encrypted patient information electronically. RightFax Healthcare Direct will change how the healthcare industry communicates As technology in healthcare is evolving, OpenText is leading the industry to the digital world by offering the tools needed to accelerate interoperability and advance connectivity for providers to maintain the highest level of patient safety and comply with healthcare standards. Read the RightFax Healthcare Direct press release. Visit us online and learn more about RightFax Healthcare Direct!

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Don’t let What Happens in Vegas Stay in Vegas!

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At least, not what you learn at OpenText Enterprise World 2015, taking place November 8-13 in Las Vegas, NV. If you are already planning to attend this annual customer event, or are still undecided, ask yourself why you plan to go; what do you hope to take back to your organization? Is it the latest insights on product roadmaps and corporate directions from your technology vendor? To decide whether the solution provider is the right vendor if you’re not already an existing customer? To learn from peers, meet the experts, and share ideas? There are a myriad of reasons. But ultimately, your attendance has to deliver value—something you can take back to your organization that will make a difference in how you work, the value you contribute to your enterprise information management (EIM) efforts, or the overall effectiveness of your technology investment. All are good reasons to attend. However, many would-be attendees struggle to ‘make the case’ for participation in terms of a real ROI. Perhaps the goals aren’t lofty enough. What if you could learn how to dramatically change the course of your company? What if you could learn something new that has a material impact on your organization’s growth, its profitability, its compliance with regulations, and your overall business agility? Most would agree that translates to a strong ROI for a week in Vegas. Challenge yourself to experience something new, and take a new look at what EIM can do for you and your business. Set a stretch goal. How do you do this? By following the Information Exchange (IX) track at Enterprise World. IX is about the secure exchange of information between your organization and its extended trading partner ecosystem. This suite of offerings enables you to automate key processes such as procure to pay, order to cash, secure notifications, funds transfers, payments, logistics, and more. All organizations, regardless of your industry, accomplish their mission “beyond the four walls” of their enterprise—with customers, suppliers, providers, agencies, etc. However, most investments in productivity, automation, security, standardization, etc. are focused within the four walls. Information exchange—B2B and other forms of messaging—are too often relegated to IT… as just a cost of doing business. “We’ve got that covered”… “We have an EDI guy”. Here is the massive stone you can turn at Enterprise World. Look outside the four walls to find savings, drive efficiencies, comply with industry mandates, and leverage supply chain data to optimize processes. Elevating B2B to the C-level vs. an IT project alone. The digital transformation is omnipresent. To leverage new opportunities and face new challenges, you need a comprehensive digital strategy. Follow the IX Track at Enterprise World to learn how to survive—and thrive—in the new digital supply chain. B2B integration and secure messaging is a critical foundation for success in the digital age. Drive down operational cost, mitigate and manage corporate compliance risk, speed time to market and time to value, and focus on your core competencies. OpenText IX will show you how to integrate the processes, systems, and business partners necessary to attain these benefits. Come learn from industry leaders and OpenText experts how information exchange can change the course of your business. Don’t let the best practices stay in Vegas. Take them back with you to your organization. Set a course for growth, profitability, and agility. (Source: SCM World, “Chief Supply Chain Officer Report,” September 2014)

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Join us for a Free Information Session on how an Automated Supply Chain can help ECM be better

Satisfaction Thermometer Measuring Happiness Fulfillment Level

As an ECM practitioner, how much thought do you give to the complex back-office infrastructure that supports your organization’s supply chain? You should; success as a digital enterprise will only come from being fully digital outside and inside. In other words, a fully customer-centric process that draws on information from across the enterprise is great, but it will quickly stall if fulfilment involves chaotic piles of inventory management reports and frantic phone calls. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Go ahead and Google how much money and time it takes to win back a disgruntled customer, especially one who’s now using your carefully crafted social media tools to broadcast their dissatisfaction. Organizations in manufacturing, distribution, and retail face unique challenges when it comes to the supply chain and connecting with suppliers and/or buyers to exchange information related to transactions. Just keeping track of who you do business with, the right person to contact, and if they comply with your standards is a lot work–and that is long before you begin to process invoices and store information in your ECM system! That’s why we’re hosting a unique, free, half-day information session the day before Enterprise World kicks off for the front-office crowd to learn and experience how digital supply chain systems work and what they can add to overall business strategy, agility, and productivity. Please note: This is not a technical session! If you’re involved in anything from marketing to accounts payable to IT architecture, you’ll find the information here valuable. Join us on Tuesday, November 10 for this special educational session on digitizing and automating the supply chain. The session will include an overview of the benefits of automation, and a discussion of how outsourcing B2B integration to an expert can reduce costs and shorten implementation times. We’ll share a couple examples of how OpenText customers have transformed their B2B integration program through OpenText B2B Managed Services. The session will be led by Jeff Keefer, Global Director, B2B Managed Services at OpenText. Jeff is an expert at supply chain automation and is a trusted advisor in working with OpenText customers to enable supply chain automation through B2B integration and managed services. Yes, it may not be your job, but no one’s ever suffered from knowing too much about potential benefits, pitfalls, and solutions. And here’s your chance to hit Vegas a day early and gain insight into a whole, new area that really does affect your team’s performance. Plus, you’ll now be able to start peppering development meetings with knowledgeable references to terms like EDI and inventory turns! Looking forward to seeing you there.

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Embracing Customer Centricity at Enterprise World 2015


Organizations today are competing on the basis of a differentiated customer experience. It is not enough to have the best products or services, but you must now differentiate on the experience that your end users have when doing business with you. After all, a product or service is only as valuable as the way in which its use is realized by your customers. But what does it mean to be Customer Centric? It’s not a technology – it is your Goal; it is a Journey for your customer that is tuned to meet their needs on every device, in every location, in every language, in every CONTEXT where you both interact. Every employee should feel empowered to work in harmony and deliver the best experience to the customer. Achieving this vision allows you to maximize the customer lifetime value – the more value the consumer receives, the more opportunities you have to upsell the customer and gain new customers from positive customer advocacy. Enterprise World 2015 gives you an opportunity to hear directly from organizations around the world that are on their own journey to create a better way to work. The Customer Experience Management track this year is focusing on key areas of digital transformation related to better customer engagement, better, business insights and better employee productivity. We have brought in leading Industry Analysts to share their research and trends happening in the Digital Experience driven world we live in today.  We also have some AMAZING companies sharing their own experiences in strategizing and executing projects to adopt a more digital approach to their business processes and customer/ constituent / partner interactions. You have to come hear their stories! Come join us in the journey to a better way to work – add these highlighted sessions to your agenda: Strategy – CEM 210 will discuss how achieving a customer centric vision requires strategy and architecture decisions. Learning – CEM 102 takes a look at how consumer trends are driving business transformation of business processes and user engagement across B2C and B2B organizations. CEM 101 takes a look inside financial services companies that have to engage their customers across B2B2C complexities. Implemention – The next step after an approved strategy is to identify a key project to get started. Tackling the Digital Workplace is the focus of CEM 112 where a global organization found the answer in implementing better content sharing and content management. Adoption – It takes a village…. employee adoption of a digital transformation can result in amazing increased productivity and customer satisfaction. CEM 100 takes a look at overcoming challenges at getting users to adopt new processes and technologies to be successful. Insights – CEM 110 is a Fireside Chat that delves into the importance of insights (from analytics to interactions) to innovate how you work inside and outside the organization Two key Technical sessions are related to Upgrading ( CEM 200) and the Roadmaps ( Expo) for OpenText Media Management, Web Experience Management, Customer Communications Management (StreamServe) and the latest PowerDocs application. Roadmaps are hosted in our Digital Experience Theater in the Expo – see the schedule on the mobile app agenda or at the Theater. We are also excited to showcase how 3-D printing can become a part of your communication strategy. Finally, the session on Tuesday titled “Optimize your supply chain with B2B Managed Services” is great if your organization could benefit from improved supply chain visibility and increased digital integration with suppliers or customers. This special educational session will focus on how to digitize and automate your supply chain and include an overview of the reasons to automate, and a discussion of how outsourcing B2B integration to an expert can reduce costs and shorten implementation times. We’ll share a couple examples of how OpenText customers transformed their B2B integration program through OpenText B2B Managed Services.

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Digital-First Fridays: The Digital Supply Network


Digital makes it possible for the smallest company to participate in the global economy. Disruption is lowering barriers to entry, which results in higher levels of competition. Based on stiffer competition, businesses are shifting from a vertically integrated supply chain model to a highly specialized, outsourced network model. In the digital world, these networks will be made up of low-cost suppliers and virtual manufacturers, and will serve niche industries that span the globe. Many products in the future will be built-to-order. Organizations are already realizing the value of customization: you can design your own Goldfish crackers thanks to Pepperidge Farm, NIKEiD invites you to customize Nike running shoes for optimized performance—even Coke bottle labels can be personalized. While this new environment of hyper-differentiation provides exciting ways of engaging customers, it is also requiring companies to radically overhaul their supply chain processes. As companies specialize and outsource, operations need to scale, shift, and contract depending on business and market requirements. New channels need to be leveraged and new markets serviced. To be able to differentiate, organizations need to have agility and flexibility built into their production lines. This calls for the digitalization of end-to-end processes across the supply network. The benefits of digitalizing processes are many: costs can be reduced, turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude, errors minimized, and new channels and new routes to the customer can be explored. The Digital Supply Network with Customer at the Hub Increased flexibility and agility are the keys to success. Digital leaders are achieving this by digitizing core business processes and adopting emerging technologies. They are automating processes and delivering 24/7 engagement with self-service capabilities. B2B integration is providing the sophisticated synchronization of data and transactions for the automated exchange of goods, commerce, and information. Analytics are giving the enterprise incredible insights for supply chain optimization and end-to-end supply chain visibility. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to further enhance the richness of supply chain information, creating networks that are intelligent and instrumented. Managing all of this information across a collaborative platform is the key to optimization and B2B integration in efficient, secure, and compliant ways. To meet the challenges of the evolving supply chain, the digital enterprise will depend on digital technology for increased global collaboration, seamless communication, real-time insights, and execution. The digital workplace will have to accommodate these shifts in the market and the technical expertise required to manage disruptive innovations. Supply networks will have to be optimized to satisfy customers and drive competitive advantage. The transformational Digital Workplace is the topic of the next post in this series. Find out how you can capitalize on digital disruption. To learn more, read my book, Digital: Disrupt or Die.

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Streamlining Prescription Fulfillment with Automatic Capture Technology


Many retail pharmacies utilize fax documents as part of their prescription fulfilment processes. With that, typical processing delays associated with manually handling incoming fax documents and rekeying the embedded information into backend systems arise regularly. Based on the last blog post, we know automatic capture technology can be very beneficial here, particularly in receiving inbound prescription fulfillment forms from various fax input sources in multiple formats. Yet there are other value-added services pharmacy organizations can implement in conjunction with automatic capture to drive automated fax message processing end-to-end. See a sample diagram below: The process flow is a real-world example of a “before and after” scenario in which a major retailer used automatic capture on the front end of a process, and integrated value-added fax messaging services (such as document workflow) throughout. Automating fax processes this way optimized the fulfilment of patient prescriptions. To read the story in its entirety please access this case study outlining the business problem and implemented solution behind the improved process illustrated above. Of course to get an overview of automatic capture technology’s impact on business critical processes involving fax, visit www.opentext.com/campaigns/intelligent-fax-workflow.

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Integrating Automatic Capture with Enterprise Fax Deployment Models


When it comes to initiating critical business processes, paper based faxing remains a key driver within many industries. Organizations utilize paper based faxing as a simple, ubiquitous mechanism for transacting business. However they’re also experiencing slow business cycle times that are negatively impacting profitability. In the last blog post we discussed automatic capture technology’s ability to turn incoming fax documents into actionable data. Now many organizations are automating paper-based fax processes to gain greater ROI by integrating automatic capture technology with enterprise fax deployments models including: Cloud fax: a deployment that doesn’t require any on-premises fax hardware, software or telephone connections to transmit fax messages. Instead users send faxes directly from their email accounts or common desktop applications. Cloud fax significantly reduces the cost of procuring and maintaining physical fax infrastructure while driving platform flexibility and scalability: On premises fax: a deployment in which a fleet of fax machines, multi-function devices or fax servers reside on premises, using telephony hardware to transmit messages. On-premises fax software connects with virtually any type of telephone network for secure, electronic faxing and supports very robust integrations.   Hybrid is another deployment option that combines an on-premises fax server with cloud-based transmission. Regardless of the chosen deployment model, enterprise fax software and services are well known input sources that organizations integrate automatic capture technology with. To enhance cycle times further organizations also integrate additional value-added services, like business workflow solutions, to help automate fax message processing from end-to-end. Please visit www.opentext.com/campaigns/intelligent-fax-workflow  to learn more about enterprise fax deployment models and their ability to drive automated fax workflow solutions.  

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3 Questions: Content Marketing Expert Robert Rose on the Power of Analytics

Think your organization can tell the difference between good marketing content and great content? Only 36 percent of B2B marketers surveyed in 2014 by the Content Marketing Institute said they were effective at content marketing. To help increase its effectiveness, marketing experts suggest improving content measurement methods. White papers, brochures and blogs get the message out. Analytics illustrates a richer story. Robert Rose is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Content Marketing Institute and a senior contributing consultant for Digital Clarity Group. Robert’s highly anticipated second book – Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing is now available. His first book, Managing Content Marketing, spent two weeks as a top ten marketing book on Amazon.com and is generally considered to be the “owner’s manual” of the Content Marketing process. Robert is also the co-host of the podcast PNR’s This Old Marketing, the Number 1 podcast as reviewed by MarketingPodcasts.com We sat down with Robert to discuss the importance of transforming content into digital and the best ways to optimize value from analyzing that content. OpenText: With the world migrating towards a digital-first approach, talk about the importance of content-driven experiences. How should marketing, and other departments, optimize their operations to gain the most value of their digital assets? Robert Rose: The real trend is that content-driven experiences are the differentiation of the entire business these days. Whether you look at this as a layer of product development, an element of marketing – or the new way that you handle customer service, consumers now expect a better experience at any part of their particular journey. This means that marketing – and the development of content-driven experiences – must stretch across the entire customer journey. So, this inherently means that the business has to evolve “content” as a strategic asset.  It can simply no longer be just a byproduct of what people produce as part of their jobs – but must be cohesively created, managed, published, optimized and measured as a function in the business. And, in order to do that – the organization’s first step is to actually look at each of those tasks as a recognized function in the business. It must have actual organization, real responsibility, budget and measurability. OpenText: The intersection of digital content, cloud delivery and Big Data analysis seems like the next step for so many organizations. What recommendations can you give to decision makers in their quest for a digital content supply chain? Robert Rose: The key is to simplify. A great content-as-supply-chain process should actually reduce the amount of content being produced, but optimize its quality and efficacy. This means, ultimately, that the data it produces becomes higher quality and get be used to derive better meaning, and thus greater insight into how to improve the experiences being created.  The classic mistake that most businesses make is they create content in order to facilitate the sales, marketing and service of products – and then simply can’t keep up with the cadence that the product/service requires. Instead, they need to start with the customer, and the experience they’re trying to deliver – then work backwards to see how content can be created to build that experience. OpenText: There are many organizations that are successful in transforming their content and measuring its effectiveness. What are you top favorites and what made them so successful? Robert Rose: I think my current favorite is what Motorola Solutions has done by integrating technology and marketing into one common department. Eduardo Conrado is the Chief Innovation Officer (and wrote the introduction to my newest book). He recognized as the head of marketing and IT that both were truly focused on the same goal; creating a more compelling customer experience. So, he merged both of them together so that they work together. As he says, this really does create an environment where “technology can help you get closer to the customer.” For more insight, Robert’s strategy whitepaper entitled, The Marketing Transformation: From Managing Campaigns to Orchestrating Experiences can be found at OpenText.

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