B2B Integration

Building Supply Chain Resilience and Compliance

supply chain resilience

As a connected set of companies that form the link between individual component sources and a final product, the supply chain bridges the gap between suppliers and the ultimate end user. When it works, it is an impressive orchestration of many moving parts working in concert to deliver products to customers. But what happens when a critical link in the chain fails due to business disruption, natural disaster, financial issues, or a problem within its own supply chain? In today’s globalized economy, companies’ supply chains are growing bigger and more complex. While these business relationships can deliver gains in productivity and profitability, they can come at the price of taking on additional risk exposure. Third-party risk management is the fastest growing governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) technology market and cited as most challenging aspect of a compliance program [Deloitte-Compliance Week 2015 Compliance Trends Report]. In fact, 77 percent of manufacturing firms report increasing supply chain complexity as the fastest growing risk in business continuity. Organizations are looking to technology to help ensure supply chain resilience, with a fierce focus on protecting their organization’s brand, reputation, assets, and data. Big supply chains call for big data Supply chain executives are placing great store in the potential of big data. In fact, an SCM Chief Supply Chain Officer Report showed that they believe big data analytics to be more valuable than the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and 3D printing. More manufacturing firms are adopting big data strategies to tackle a wide range of risk factors within the supply chain, including, minimizing risk within a global supply chain and managing supplier performance. Tip – Choose a big data analytics solution that is meant for business users and analysts who want an easy, fast way to access, blend, explore, and analyze data quickly without depending on IT or data experts, such as OpenText™ Big Data Analytics. You’re a good corporate citizen. Are your suppliers too? It has been well established that having a clear, effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is good for business. Many customers seek out and want to do business with vendors who share their values and compliance culture. For example, by demonstrating that a company’s supply chain is conflict-free, it will reassure stakeholders that the company is compliant and will engender trust among suppliers, consumers, and others. The SEC Dodd-Frank Act, Conflict Minerals rules, and the EU REACH mandate and ROHS Directive are just a few regulations forcing companies to take a hard look at their supplier ecosystems. However, compliance is threatened when suppliers fail to provide needed information. Only 22 percent of companies required to file conflict minerals reports by a June 2014 deadline did so – most stating that their supply chains were too complex, or that suppliers did not respond to questionnaires or did not provide complete or adequate responses. Further, since mandatory reporting in 2014, more than 70 percent of U.S. companies say they still cannot make a determination that their supply chains are free from conflict minerals. Tip – Firms are turning to sophisticated information exchange solutions for supplier self-assessment to ensure compliance in areas such as conflict minerals, anti-slavery, and sustainability, such as OpenText’s Conflict Minerals Reporting solution. Managing risk begins with onboarding process Given the vast amount of supplier data that exists across the enterprise, technology offers an easy way to import, structure, organize, and consolidate this data in one place, and then map it to the associated supplier risks, regulations, controls, locations, and products for better visibility. And a successful supplier information management program starts with the right supplier onboarding process. Tip – For B2B suppliers who use a defined EDI format to send and receive data, these suppliers easily buy into an onboarding system which uses a format they already use (typically high volume and large suppliers), such as OpenText™ B2B Managed Services. When it comes to supply chain disruptions, it is no longer a matter of “if” it will happen, but “when” the next incident will occur. Choosing a proactive approach and the right technology solutions will only improve your organization’s ability to mitigate, adapt, and respond quickly to threats as they arise – thus strengthening resilience in your supply chain.

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3 Steps to Retail Supply Chain Excellence Using Dynamic Collaboration

Retail supply chain excellence

Digital transformation is the defining reality for today’s retailers. Reorganizing to serve a smartphone-wielding consumer who shops on-the-go with the expectation of receiving their purchase at the time and place of their choosing – that’s digital transformation. It starts with the omnichannel shopping experience and wends through every operational function. The most important of these is supply chain management – which enables a customer-centric purchasing experience through retail supply chain excellence. As we discuss in our whitepaper, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, retailers have the advantage of digitized B2B integration using EDI and Internet-based messaging to support trading partner communication. Smart trading networks have evolved from these foundational B2B messaging services. By aggregating transactional data using analytical applications you can monitor, analyze, and report on consumer demand, inventory availability, and supply chain performance. 3 Steps to Achieve Retail Supply Chain Excellence Start your digital transformation by taking these 3 steps to manage complex trading partner relationships with dynamic collaboration. Establish a centralized supplier information management system Understand trading partner performance Manage trading partnerships to improve customer fulfillment Step 1: Establish a Centralized Supplier Information Management System Retailers relying on more sophisticated trading relationships to serve customers need to stay current with their trading partners’ capabilities. At the same time, you have to reduce the cost of managing communications while ensuring compliance to their service levels and operating standards. A Gartner study pegged typical supplier management costs in a range from $585 to just under $1,000 per vendor. With an average of 3,000 active trading partner relationships, retailers are spending close to $3 million annually to manage their supply chain partnerships. As you implement more sophisticated supply chain community initiatives like customer drop-ship or vendor managed inventory, the costs to manage trading partner relationships will only increase. And that necessitates implementing a centralized system to support trading partner communication. Step 2: Understand Trading Partner Performance Monitor the service level and compliance performance of vendors, distributors, banks, 3PLs, and transportation providers with dynamic collaboration. Combining transactional data and data from other sources like point-of-sale, retailers and their trading partners can gain visibility into potential service level issues as well as performance trends. Using dynamic collaboration scorecards gives you a clear view of trading partner performance. Dynamic collaboration is supported by monitoring and measuring specific metrics. Transaction metrics – document arrival and acknowledgement timeliness Operational metrics – transaction volume by document or trading partner Business metrics – order, shipment, and invoice accuracy and timeliness Improving vendor compliance has demonstrated benefits like reducing distribution center costs by eliminating manual processing. It also improves customer fulfillment by speeding merchandise flow to meet demand. Step 3: Manage Trading Partnerships to Improve Customer Fulfillment As retailers look to deliver a more convenient omnichannel shopping experience, coordinating their supply chain to ensure inventory availability will define success. For example, retailers increasingly look for vendors to directly service their customers quickly and efficiently. As Retail Systems Research (RSR) noted in Retail Insight: Consumer Expectations Transform the Industry in 2016, retailers prioritize working with vendors who can provide special capabilities, like drop-ship fulfillment, and meet their compliance and lead-time standards. A smart trading network gives you a vendor compliance collaboration platform with the necessary insight to manage complex business requirements more efficiently. For example, Stage Stores, a regional U.S. department store chain, has leveraged dynamic collaboration to increase compliance violation identification by 500%. At the same time, they reduced the time to resolve compliance issues with vendors from 3 months to 72 hours – streamlining merchandise flow while greatly improving trading partner relationships. Get started today Retailers’ focus on leveraging customer-centric supply chain capabilities and ensuring service level execution across multiple trading partners requires a more automated, collaborative communication and standards compliance process. The three steps outlined above are a great way to start transforming your supply chain to be customer centric. To learn more about implementing a customer-centric supply chain, download Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

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Digital Transformation Across Supply Chains – IDC Infographic

Digital Transformation

OpenText recently sponsored a new IDC research study relating to digital transformation across the supply chain. I recently posted another blog to highlight some of the key findings from this new study that OpenText™ Business Network sponsored. The study looked at whether digital transformation was driving supply chain restructuring activities. In addition to the white paper which you can download here, I have included an infographic in this blog post which helps to illustrate some of the key findings from our new study. In the next few weeks we will also be launching two webinars and five executive briefs on key findings from some of the verticals we surveyed. You can also click on the infographic below to download our new study. Don’t forget, keep an eye out for the webinars and industry briefs that we will be releasing in the coming weeks.

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5 Tips for E-commerce–Ready Item Management

E-commerce-ready Item Management

Find out here how to support online shopping with product information that sells. Online shopping has empowered consumers to find their product, compare prices, and determine which retailers have inventory. Meeting the demand for an easy and convenient online shopping experience means retailers need the necessary product information available on their website. Unfortunately, e-commerce–ready item management is a highly manual process that’s time consuming and error prone. There’s tremendous pressure on brand marketers to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the product information that helps retailers sell online. Our recent report, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, identified e-commerce–ready item management as one of the top three priorities for building a customer-centric supply chain. Defined by extended attributes to support e-commerce content management and fulfillment processes, e-commerce–ready item management greatly improves time-to-market. In fact, one national chain reports a 2- to 4-week reduction in website product page setup using extended attributes, while a major e-commerce retailer reports vendor item setup time has been cut in half. GS1 has published standards for extended e-commerce product attributes in their Extended Attribute Guide, and as brand marketers typically produce the content required to meet the needs of e-commerce item management, including marketing descriptions, images and videos, product specifications, and shipping weights and measurements, they should review their product information now to ensure compliance. OpenText™ Active Catalogue supports extended attributes for general merchandise and apparel to easily share e-commerce-ready product information with retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, Dillard’s, Belk, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Stage Stores, Nordstrom, Boscov’s, Bon-Ton, and Lids. With more retailers requesting extended e-commerce attributes along with their traditional GTIN-based data, we’ve got five tips to help brand marketers meet the requirements for e-commerce–ready item management. 1. It’s your brand: Make the standards work for you Industry standards have allowed retailers to scale B2B integration, streamlining supply chain management and reducing costs; getting product to consumers faster and maintaining inventory levels to drive sales. E-commerce product information standards aren’t any different. Using them will get your product on retailers’ websites faster and with greater control over how your brand is presented online. Get to know standard description attributes and use them to your benefit. Some attributes support standardization, enabling navigation, filtering, or search–such as Brand, which is your label or trade name. Others, like the attribute Features-Benefits-Marketing Message, is a free-form text field of up to 4,096 characters that allows you to provide rich information you want to convey about your products, as in the example below with the product description and details content. 2. Don’t panic: There’s flexibility in the standards The thought of using standards causes some brand marketers to feel hand-cuffed. But brands and retailers jointly developed these, aware of the need to give brands the flexibility to market their products the way they want to, while also supporting retailers. For example, each standard for describing a garment closure includes 9 basic descriptions–and there are a total of 53 closure description options. Plus, there’s an option to use a free-form description if a brand’s closer type is included in the standard. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 3. Get a quick win: Image standardization Sharing image attributes is easier than ever, since many brands already produce imagery for their own website. The growth in online shopping has led to some best practices regarding what’s required to effectively display products to consumers. These two websites illustrate the five basic images needed for e-commerce: quarter-turn, front, back, top, bottom. You may already have images available that you can share with retailers. 4. Get it right: Measure twice, share once There’s an adage used in construction to avoid costly mistakes: “Measure twice, cut once.” The value of accurate, consistent measurement can’t be overstated in e-commerce. Did you notice that the websites in the previous example list two different heel heights for the same shoe? Consumers have only the details retailers provide to make an informed purchase. Not having the correct information can mean getting a sale and keeping it–or a return by a dissatisfied customer. The standards for what to measure and how to measure it are well thought out and described in the GS1 guidelines. There are specifics listed for different merchandise categories, such as the standard for how to measure the heel of a shoe. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 5. It’s all about the customer: Streamline order fulfillment In addition to online shopping descriptions, it’s important to provide the necessary shipping information. Standards have been developed to support extended supply chain attributes specifically for e-commerce fulfillment. Shipping package dimensions–including size, weight, and hazardous material coding–help retailers ship customer orders more efficiently. Other extended attributes like Consumer Available Date and Lead Time support drop-shipping to customers, which has become more widely used by retailers. Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016 Watch our recent webinar, Catalogue–Extended Attribute Project, for more about how Active Catalogue can help you manage extended product attributes. To learn how you can implement a customer-centric supply chain, download your copy of Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

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

Digital Transformation

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

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5 Active Applications Sessions at Enterprise World

Enterprise World

If you are an OpenText™ Business Network customer (or if you are considering becoming one), we would like to invite you to OpenText™ Enterprise World 2017. We know that it can be tough to take time out of your busy schedule to attend an event, so we are working hard to ensure Enterprise World is relevant to you, your business, and the OpenText solutions you use. Previous blog posts about Business Network at Enterprise World include a summary of why you should attend and a post about the future of the digital supply chain. If you outsource your B2B integration to OpenText™ B2B Managed Services you may not be aware of some of the cloud-based supply chain automation applications we offer. These application provide additional integration and automation capabilities. Sessions at Enterprise World will describe these “Active Applications,” the problems they are designed to solve, and how they can positively impact your business. Here are 5 Active Applications sessions at Enterprise World that you should find valuable: Buying organizations need visibility into frequency of order errors or late deliveries by suppliers. See how these metrics provide the information to help identify potential problems in the supply chain and make adjustments. This session demonstrates supplier performance metric that enable manufacturers to manage under-performing trading partners—ultimately mitigating risk to business performance—and help determine the most strategic trading partners to do more business with. Your B2B integration program’s ROI is determined by the percentage of trading partner you integrate with. So how do you maximize trading partner participation and ROI? We’ll show you how OpenText can help you get your trading partners onboarded – through tools for community management (with new self-service features!), direct connect and EDI VAN enablement, and a web portal for non-digital trading partners plus onboarding services that free your staff for more strategic efforts. Your trading partners want to exchange invoices electronically so they can automate and reduce costs of invoice processing – and so do you. But e-invoicing has a varied set of formats, government requirements and integration challenges. OpenText B2B Managed Services and Active Invoices with Compliance work together for sending, receiving and storing e-invoices that comply with government tax laws and recent business to government (B2G) e-invoicing mandates. This session will discuss what you need to do to comply with ever changing e-invoicing regulations, including upcoming mandates for B2G invoicing in EU countries and the differences between compliance models in Europe and Latin America.  Don’t be shut out of these markets.  Attend this session and learn how to comply. Vendor Compliance is More Than a Manual – see how retailers are capturing vendor compliance violations and increasing accuracy to better offset expenses from shipping errors. Along the way they are also improving relationships with their vendors through clarity and visibility! We’ll show you how the OpenText deduction management solution works and how one customer used it to increase compliance while improving the relationship with their vendors. Active Catalogue & Your Data Synchronization Strategy – this session will explore the benefits of implementing and executing a data synchronization and product catalogue strategy, specifically with OpenText Active Catalogue.  Learn customer best practices, challenges and successes in deploying the Catalogue solution. Also attend to learn the  future direction of Active Catalogue. These Active Applications sessions at Enterprise World are only 5 of many sessions for Business Network customers. Plus, in addition to breakout sessions there are many other activities that you can participate in, such as industry breakouts, live product and solution overviews in our expo hall and a chance to test drive new product enhancements in our developer lab. This year Enterprise World is in Toronto, Canada, and if you are interested in learning more about how Business Network can support your B2B integration needs today and in the future visit our registration page. I hope to see you in Toronto in July.

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Join OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Each year, supply chain practitioners gather in Scottsdale to discuss, learn, network, share their challenges, failures and successes in managing complex supply chains. The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference is a great opportunity to do all of those things. Each year the event is larger, with more attendees and more opportunities to network. This year, Gartner has chosen recognizing the impacts and preparing disruptions to the supply chain as the theme of the conference. Supply Chain risk and resilience is hot topic and preparing your supply chain to handle the impact of a disruption takes measurement, planning, innovation, and transformation. OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference We are inviting you to join OpenText at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference. As the leading provider of Business-to-Business (B2B) integration, we believe that a well-connected supply chain is a key element of making your supply chain more resilient. For more on why, see this blog post. As part of our participation in the conference, we are sponsoring a session from one of our customers. Seth Barney, who leads Supplier Quality and Inventory Accuracy at O.C. Tanner, will share their journey to streamline their supply chain through digital transformation (and B2B integration!). O.C. Tanner is a global provider of employee recognition and appreciation products covering over 150 countries and delivering awards to 19 million users. Seth directs supplier quality and inventory accuracy activities for O.C. Tanner. His primary focus has been implementing streamlined supplier connections across all of O.C. Tanner’s global locations while ensuring process consistency. He also leads a number of inventory related projects to drive inventory accuracy to company records of well over 99%. Please stop by and visit us in the showcase if you are at the show. If you’d like to schedule some time to meet with us – you can sign up here.

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GDPR. An Opportunity More Than a Threat for B2B Companies?

GDPR

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is definitely a game changer – but perhaps not in the way you think. A great deal has already been written about the stringent obligations – and hefty fines – it places on organizations managing the personal data of EU citizens. Much less has been made of its other stated aim: To facilitate the exchange of information for businesses that operate in the EU. But the GDPR is not limited to only EU companies, so… how best to capture the opportunity within GDPR implementation? An opportunity? Really?!! It’s easy to focus on the amount of change – at an organizational, technical and process level – that every company will need to undertake to get ready for the May 2018 deadline. But, that is to overlook the bigger picture. GDPR is explicitly designed to harmonize data security and privacy laws across Europe. This is, by far, the most far-reaching legislation of its type ever attempted. It represents a single data protection approach for 28 trading countries and, indeed, beyond. As all companies that hold personal data on EU citizens must comply – and let’s face it, today that’s pretty much everyone – the success of GDPR is very likely to make it a global standard by default. To date, organizations have not addressed their data protection and privacy risks in a consistent way. GDPR now makes this essential. The opportunity arises when you see this as more than simply a compliance issue. As PA Consulting suggests, companies “can take a more business- and customer-centric approach that will allow them to explore how they can manage personal data to help make more informed decisions and create a better experience for their customers”. Understanding GDPR There are really two core elements to the obligations of B2B companies under the GDPR. The first is to store and manage personal data in a way that it’s always quickly accessible for the data subject and is removable if required. For B2B organizations, you must remember that, for the GDPR, personal data means data about individuals, including your customers, suppliers and service providers. It also covers how and why you exchange personal data within your supply chain or trading partner network. Secondly, personal data must be defended and secure at all times – in transit or while at rest.  The International Association of Privacy Professionals recommends some of the security actions to undertake include: The pseudonymization and encryption of personal data The ability to ensure the on-going confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services The ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident A process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organizational measures for ensuring the security of the processing A focus on technical infrastructure It’s clear that the correct technical infrastructure has a key role to play when implementing the GDPR. Organizations will really struggle if they continue to hold silos of information. Instead, they must have a clear end-to-end view of all the personal data they hold. This is both structured and unstructured data – everything from emails and social media behaviors to contracts or service documentation. This does require a significant change in thinking. Organizations will need to introduce Privacy-by-Design and Data Protection-by-Design as core foundations of their infrastructure. These strategies have been at the heart of solution development at OpenText for years. The OpenText™ Business Network portfolio of solutions – including OpenText™ Trading Grid Messaging Service, OpenText™ Active Applications, OpenText™ Managed Services, and OpenText™ Fax Solutions – include the highest security standards, encryption and best practices. These solutions enable the processing and exchange of information with comprehensive encryption to mitigate risks associated with the processing of sensitive data. Rigorously auditing, testing and enforcing compliance with security regulations such as the GDPR across extended and sophisticated supply chains is a fundamental part of OpenText operations. For example, the OpenText™ Cloud Fax network is an environment made up of connectivity protocols that keep customers aligned with the most pertinent regulatory and compliance mandates.  With options including secure web connections via TLS and HTTPS or VPN connections, organizations remain securely connected to the OpenText Cloud and privacy is maintained. With encryption at rest and in transit, content is securely protected where it rests or on the move. Keep calm. Carry on. The good news is that GDPR is not meant to cripple you as a business – quite the opposite. But, it does demand a much more proactive and consistent approach to data protection. For B2B organizations, that really doesn’t have to be a threat. Almost every organization has Digital Transformation at the heart of its business strategy. Almost every organization is looking for ways to optimize the value of the data it holds. In this context, GDPR can be seen as a legal framework to make this happen. Now, there’s an opportunity! Learn more about OpenText’s secure information exchange solutions. Watch the webinar with Digital Clarity Group and learn how the GDPR will transform business practices across the organization.

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How Supply Chains are Embracing Digital Disruption

Digital

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

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Ten New Ways Business Network Supercharges Your B2B Integration Strategy

B2B

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

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Automate Customer Enrollment for Faster E-Invoicing ROI

E-Invoicing ROI

Invoice automation and the move to e-invoicing is a common project designed to save enterprises money.  Billentis estimates that both outbound and inbound e-invoicing projects reduce invoice processing costs by 60%. It is important to note that the more trading partners that participate in your e-invoicing program, the more benefit you will receive from it.  But if e-invoicing ROI is so great, why isn’t all invoicing e-invoicing? The cost of setting up an e-invoicing program can be a roadblock. Part of that cost is enrollment or on-boarding. This involves registering all of the customers to whom you will send electronic invoices into the e-invoicing platform. Sending thousands of invoices to a single customer is relatively easy – only that customer needs to be enrolled for e-invoicing. Sending one invoice each to thousands of customers is a completely different problem. You need to enroll each of those customers before sending electronic invoices. Enrolling new customers can require human interaction and frequently involves several Finance and/or IT procedures. What if you could enroll your customers automatically as you process transactions?  If you have hundreds of customers, this could reduce the cost of setting up an e-invoicing program by tens of thousands of dollars and save hundreds of man hours. This is why OpenText has introduced a capability that will automatically provision many of your customers as you send electronic invoices. In this way you: Reduce the barriers to entry for your outbound e-invoicing project Reduce manual efforts (Finance and IT) Accelerate e-invoicing ROI by implementing your project faster The capability reduces cost and saves time because you do not need to create procedures for manual enrollment or transfer information between systems or databases. You just send us the information about your customer at the same time that you send us the transaction. Learn more about OpenText’s E-Invoicing solutions.

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Discussing B2B Integration at OpenText Innovation Tour APAC

OpenText Innovation Tour

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

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You’ve got Experience, Share it in our Survey

P2P automation survey

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

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Pay Attention to B2G eInvoicing Mandates

B2G einvoicing mandates

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

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Get Started on the Path to B2B Integration Maturity Now

B2B integration maturuty

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

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

B2B integration

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

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

marginal gains

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

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Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

Utilties

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

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What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

B2B integration

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

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First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4

B2B Maturity

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

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