EDI

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. Now if you are based in Europe and you would like to attend the Innovation Tour stops during March then please visit the dedicated area on our website and you can find the nearest location. We will be visiting London, Paris, Munich, Stockholm and Eindhoven over a two week period in March. If you would like to learn more about Business Network and how we can take your B2B integration & secure information exchange requirements to the next level then please register here.

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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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Unlock the Value of Your Supply Chain Through Embedded Analytics

supply chain analytics

Over the past few months I have posted a couple of blogs relating to the use of analytics in the supply chain. The first one really discussed the ‘why’ in terms of the reasons for applying analytics to supply chain operations, Understanding the Basics of Supply Chain Analytics. The second blog discussed the ‘how’, in terms of the methods of obtaining meaningful insights from B2B transactions flowing between trading partners, Achieve Deeper Supply Chain Intelligence with Trading Grid Analytics. The blogs were written in support of our recently announced OpenText™ Trading Grid Analytics, one of the many Business Network related offerings in Release 16. Release 16 is the most comprehensive set of products to be released by OpenText to enable companies to build out their digital platforms and enable a better way to work. Now those that have followed my blogs over the years will know that I have worked with many analyst firms to produce white papers and studies and I guess it was only appropriate that I should be fortunate to work with an outside analyst on a thought leadership white paper relating to analytics in the supply chain. I engaged with IDC to write a paper entitled, Unlock the Value of Your Supply Chain Through Embedded Analytics. IDC has been producing some interesting content over the years in support of their ‘Third Platform’ model which embraces IoT, cloud, mobile and big data and how companies can leverage these technologies for increased competitive advantage. The aim of our new analytics related white paper was to discuss the business benefits of embedding analytics into the transaction flows across a business network. Compared to other business intelligence and end user analytics solutions, OpenText is in a unique position as we own our Business Network and we are able to introspect the 16 billion EDI transactions flowing across our network. IDC leveraged a relatively new management theory called VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity to discuss how analytics can bring better insights into business operations. VUCA was originally defined in the military field and for our paper IDC aligned VUCA so that it leverage against a more connected, information-centric and synchronized business network, namely Velocity, Unity, Coordination and Analysis. I am not going to highlight too much content from the paper but here is one interesting quote from the paper. “It is the view of IDC that the best supply chains will be those that have the ability to quickly analyze large amounts of disparate data and disseminate business insights to decision makers in real time or close to real time. Businesses that consistently fail to do this will find themselves at an increasing competitive disadvantage and locked into a reactionary cycle of firefighting. Analytics really will be the backbone of the future of the supply chain.” Now I am not going to spoil the party by revealing any more from the paper!, if you would like to learn more then please register for our webinar, details are provided below. If you would like to get further insights about the white paper then OpenText will be hosting a joint webinar with IDC on 27th July 2016 at 11 am EDT, 5pm CET. This 40 minute webinar will allow you to: Understand how embedded analytics can provide deeper supply chain intelligence Learn how the VUCA management theory can be applied to a supply chain focused analytics environment and the expected business benefits that can be obtained Find out why it is important to have trading partners connected to a single business network environment to maximize the benefits of applying analytics to supply chain operations Learn how OpenText can provide a cloud based analytics environment to support your supply chain operations You can register for the webinar here.

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

B2B integration

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

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Fax in Your B2B Digital Transformation

fax

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

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Achieve Deeper Supply Chain Intelligence with Trading Grid Analytics

supply chain analytics

In an earlier blog I discussed how analytics could be applied across supply chain processes to help businesses make more informed decisions relating to their trading partner communities. Big Data analytics has been used across supply chain operations for a few years, however the real power of analytics can only be realized if it is actually applied across the transactions flowing between trading partners. Embedding analytics to transaction flows allows companies to get a more accurate ‘pulse’ of what is going on across supply chain operations. In this blog, I would like to introduce a new offering as part of our Release 16 launch, OpenText™ Trading Grid Analytics. The OpenText™ Business Network processes over 16 billion EDI related transactions per year and this provides a rich seam of information to mine for improved supply chain intelligence. Last year,OpenText expanded its portfolio of Enterprise Information Management solutions with the acquisition of an industry leading embedded analytics company. The analytics solution that OpenText acquired is being embedded within a number of cloud-based SaaS offerings that are connected to OpenText’s Business Network. Trading Grid Analytics provides the ability to mine transaction flows for both operational and business specific metrics.  I explained the difference between operational and business metrics in my previous blog, but just to recap here briefly: Operational metrics can be defined as: delivering transactional data intelligence and volume trends needed to improve operational efficiencies and drive company profitability. Business metrics can be defined as: delivering the business process visibility required to make better decisions faster, spot and pursue market opportunities, mitigate risk and gain business agility. Trading Grid Analytics will initially offer a total of nine out-of-the-box metrics (covering EDIFACT and ANSI X12 based transactions), which will be made up of two operational and seven business metrics, all of which are displayed in a series of highly graphical reporting dashboards. Operational Metrics Volume by Document Type – Number and type of documents sent and received over a period of time (days, months, years) Volume by Trading Partners – Number and type of documents sent and received, ordered by top 10 and bottom 10 partners Business Metrics ASN Timeliness – Number of timely ASN creation instances as a percentage of total ASNs for a time period Price Variance – The actual invoiced cost of a purchased item, compared to the price at the time of order Invoice Accuracy – Measures whether invoices accurately reflect orders placed in terms of product, quantities, and price by supplier, during a specified period of time Quantity Variance – The remaining quantity to be invoiced from a purchase order, equalling the difference between the quantity delivered and the quantity invoiced for goods received Order Acceptance – Fully acknowledged POs as a percentage of total number of POs within a given period of time Top Partners by Spend – Top trading partners by the economic spend over a period of time Top Products by Spend – Top products by economic spend over time Supply chain leaders and procurement professionals need an accurate picture of what is going on across their trading partner communities so that they can, for example, identify leading trading partners and have information available to support the negotiation of new supply contracts. Trading Grid Analytics is a cloud-based analytics platform that offers: Better Productivity – Allows any transaction related issues to be identified and resolved more quickly Better Insight – Deeper insights into transactional and supply chain information driving more informed decisions Better Control – Improved visibility to exceptions and underperforming partners allows corrective action to be taken earlier in a business process Better Engagement – Collaborate more closely with top partners and mitigate risk with under-performing partners Better Innovation – Cloud-based reporting portal provides access any time, any place or anywhere More information about Trading Grid Analytics is available here. You can also learn more about the benefits of supply chain analytics.

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Cloud 16 – A Better Way to Work

Cloud 16

As organizations form their digital strategy, cloud is a critical consideration. Organizations that capitalize on new digital methods will be the ones that thrive; building new relationships with their customers and suppliers, optimizing their processes and creating new revenue streams. These organizations demand speed, agility, flexibility, and scalability that can be realized by taking advantage of cloud and hybrid cloud benefits. In short, they demand a “Better Way to Work.” The OpenText Cloud provides a global, secure cloud environment optimized for delivering Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions. We own and operate our own cloud, with a global infrastructure and operations across more than 40 data centers and satellite centers around the globe. Our commitment and expertise in cloud security, privacy and trust are key reasons customers trust us to manage their critical applications and information. We have invested greatly into our cloud and virtually all of our products are available to customers in the OpenText Cloud. OpenText Cloud 16: A Better Way to Work   Cloud 16 extends the flexibility for customers to operate in cloud, hybrid cloud and cloud-to-cloud scenarios. Customers have a plethora of integration and deployment options available to them so they are able to have their business problems addressed exactly how and where they need it. This release includes massive innovation across all of the EIM areas with advances in OpenText Cloud Managed Services, Business Network Services and OpenText SaaS applications. The Cloud 16 Digital Platform: Content Cloud 16: Delivering enterprise content management applications in the cloud to accelerate deployment, provide superior managed services and drive productivity through digital transformation. ECM in the cloud can be easier to deploy and less expensive to maintain than building and hosting your own infrastructure, and it can provide maximum flexibility while freeing up IT resources. It is quickly and easily scalable, so businesses can seamlessly adapt and expand without needing to install new hardware. Making the move to cloud means that IT resources can shift the management of ECM solutions to vendor experts, allowing IT to focus on the business critical operations that can help fuel business transformation. Highlights of Content Cloud 16 include: Managed Services for Content Suite 16- Upgrading and maintaining on premises applications can be a costly and daunting task. Let us upgrade your Content Suite into the cloud and we will manage it for you. Amplify the value of your existing applications and never worry about upgrades again. Content Suite Platform Cloud Edition- Optimized for the cloud, this package lets customers quickly purchase and deploy in cloud and hybrid-cloud scenarios. This new package combines cloud operational efficiencies with the flexibility and configurability you would expect from an on-premises deployment. OpenText Core and Content Suite integration-Customers can now securely collaborate in the cloud with Core and have content governed with Content Suite. Archive Center Cloud Edition- An enterprise archiving service running in the OpenText Cloud as a public cloud service. Customers only pay for what they use each month, based on the number of users that log on, transaction volume, and the volume of storage used. Without the need for up-front investment in infrastructure and software, it offers a cost-effective solution that scales with user’s needs. More information on Content Cloud 16 Experience Cloud 16: Empowering businesses to increase user engagement and improve customer satisfaction while avoiding time spent on managing applications or infrastructure. Experience Cloud 16 includes: Managed Services for the Experience Suite so you can upgrade your current implementation into the OpenText Cloud and have us manage it for you. Media Management Cloud Edition brings simple, cloud-based media management that is easily purchased and quickly deployed. Communications Center Enterprise brings tailored Customer Communications as a managed service in the OpenText Cloud. Communications Center CRM provides document generation with Salesforce integration. SAP DAM and SAP Document Presentment are also available as managed services. More information on Experience Cloud 16 Process Cloud 16: Enabling businesses to rapidly automate their business processes and have the platform managed by EIM specialists in the OpenText Cloud. Key innovations in Process Cloud 16 include: Process Suite as a managed service, with expert management by EIM specialists. Process Suite has several advances including entity modelling, case management and analytics integration providing process intelligence. Contract Center provides a complete solution for all types of contracts including buy-side, sell-side and other legal agreements. More information on Process Cloud 16 Business Network 16: The evolution of information exchange, OpenText Business Network provides a cloud ecosystem of interconnected trading partners with hyper automation, pervasive integration, and deep visibility across extended business processes, enabling compliance and accelerated time to revenue. The largest B2B network in the world powers customers’ extended trading ecosystems—now with embedded supply chain analytics, mobility for anytime, anywhere access, and deeper support for the entire procure-to-pay processes. Key advances in this release include: Logistics Track and Trace Supply chain analytics Trading partner digitization Invoice compliance Enhanced EMEA data sovereignty Mobility More information on Business Network 16 Analytics Cloud 16: Providing embedded analytics for EIM applications and for custom content sources, fully managed by EIM experts in the OpenText Cloud. Big Data Analytics Cloud Edition is a complete advanced analytics managed service in the cloud. It includes advanced analytics software, maintenance, cloud management plus professional and learning services to accelerate Big Data initiatives. Analytics integration with EIM Suites allows customers of all types to take advantage of advanced and predictive analytics. More information on Analytics Cloud 16 For existing on-premises customers, it is time to consider upgrading to the OpenText Cloud. For new customers, now is the time to subscribe to our cloud offerings and realize the benefits of agility, flexibility and scalability in solving your business problems. Whatever application, solution or information flow your organization requires to meet your business need, we can help to manage your cloud, hybrid cloud or cloud-to-cloud implementation. Experience a better way to work!

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Understanding the Basics of Supply Chain Analytics

vendor compliance

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

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

digital disrupt webinar

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

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How B2B Automation Helps to Develop Greener Supply Chains

green banking

Developing a greener and more sustainable supply chain has been on the agenda of CEOs for many years and in fact just looking back through my archive of blogs that I have written over the years, the first green related blog that I wrote was in 2007. This was at a time when companies were being made to think more carefully about how they design their supply chains to help reduce carbon emissions. Back then, our company issued supply chain sustainability assessments to demonstrate how much greener a business would become by automating their manual B2B transactions by sending them electronically across our global B2B network, Trading Grid. Even though sustainability has pretty much become engrained within every CEO’s corporate agenda now, I just thought it would be useful to remind you of the benefits of B2B automation. Using a very smart website developed by the Environmental Paper Network, a coalition of over 100 non-profit organizations working towards the sustainable production and consumption of pulp and paper, it is possible to calculate the environmental savings that can be made by removing paper based transactions from a business. Each transaction would use the same size piece of paper, ie an invoice, purchase order etc and each electronic transaction equates to 2 pieces of paper. Rather than having an exhaustive maths lesson on how I derived the figures below, I have merely highlighted the key figures for each of the two scenarios, but I can provide evidence of my calculations if you need it 🙂 Scenario 1 – a manufacturing company currently processes 1 million invoices per year across their European based supply chain. Using the criteria above, this then equates to a total paper weight of 9 metric tons or the equivalent of 228 trees. Now by automating these 1 million paper based transactions via a B2B network such as Trading Grid, it will provide the following reduction in the company’s impact on the environment. Reduction in Net Energy Used The Paper Calculator includes an energy credit for energy that is created by burning paper – or the methane that decomposing paper creates – at the end of its life. The Net Energy takes the total amount of energy required to make the paper over its life cycle, and subtracts this energy credit. If most of the energy used to make the paper is purchased, then the energy credit might make the Net Energy lower than the Purchased Energy. The average U.S. household uses 91 million BTUs of energy in a year. – Scenario 1 saves 375 million BTU’s, the equivalent of about 4 homes/year Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels and methane from paper decomposing in landfills, contribute to climate change by trapping energy from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere. The unit of measure is CO2 equivalents. The average car emits 11,013 pounds of CO2 in a year. – Scenario 1 saves 55,877 pounds CO2 equiv., the equivalent of about 5 cars/year Reduction in Water Consumption Water Consumption measures the amount of process and cooling water that is consumed or degraded throughout the life cycle of the paper product. The largest components of water consumption come from the production of purchased electricity, and the use of process and cooling water at pulp and paper mills. Water volume indicates both the amount of fresh water needed and the potential impact of discharges on the receiving waters. 1 Olympic-sized swimming pool holds 660,430 gallons. – Scenario 1 saves 186,117 gallons, the equivalent of < 1 swimming pool Reduction in Solid Waste Includes sludge and other wastes generated during pulp and paper manufacturing and used paper disposed of in landfills and incinerators. 1 fully loaded garbage truck weighs an average 28,000 pounds (based on a rear-loader residential garbage truck) – Scenario 1 saves 22,215 pounds, the equivalent of < 1 garbage truck/year Scenario 2 – OpenText Trading Grid, the world’s largest cloud based B2B network, connects over 600,000 businesses and processes over 16 billion transactions per year. So assuming we are removing the equivalent number of pieces of paper from a supply chain this would equate to a total paper weight saving of 145,151 metric tons or the equivalent of 3,647,010 trees per year. I think you will agree these numbers are quite astounding, but let’s look at the environmental impact for the equivalent paper based transactions: Reduction in Net Energy Used – Scenario 2 saves 6,008,526 million BTU’s, the equivalent of about 66,022 homes/year Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Scenario 2 saves 894,034,654 pounds CO2 equiv., the equivalent of about 81,175 cars/year Reduction in Water Consumption – Scenario 2 saves 2,997,875,351 gallons, the equivalent of about 4,511 swimming pools Reduction in Solid Waste – Scenario 2 saves 355,449,950 pounds, the equivalent of about 12,701 >garbage trucks/year So as you can see, the numbers speak for themselves, automating supply chain based transactions can help your business to develop a greener and more sustainable supply chain. In my next blog I will discuss how moving from software to a cloud based B2B environment can help to develop greener supply chains.

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How Today’s Engineers are Embracing a Virtualized Digital First World

In today’s digital first world, companies face a continuous challenge to ensure that mission critical business information can be accessed anytime, anyplace or anywhere. In order to access digital information, IT infrastructures must cater for a variety of computing platforms with varying levels of performance, mobility and graphics capabilities. In an earlier blog article I discussed how the distribution of digital information has slowly become more pervasive across the manufacturing business. I highlighted how traditionally the design department of a manufacturing company was seen as the early adopter of new technologies. Design based information is typically large in file size and is graphically intensive with real-time rendering being required to visualize 3D product related designs. This presents a challenge when trying to view large 3D CAD models across different hardware platforms. Over the years, as technology has advanced, more and more departments have been able to access digital information in different ways and this has introduced a number of challenges: Ensuring the security of information so as to avoid unexpected security leaks Providing a way to adhere to regional data sovereignty laws so that information can be retained in-country or in-region Deciding whether digital information should reside on a behind-the-firewall server infrastructure which is only accessible via a VPN connection or hosted in a cloud-based infrastructure for greater accessibility Driving a balance between application performance and IT infrastructure costs to ensure that applications are available 24/7 and the business is not impacted due to a network outage or slow connectivity to remote users of network resources Making certain that engineering-based users, irrespective of location, have access to design-based applications and there is no lag in performance of the applications used, especially when manipulating complex 3D graphics When I started working for one of the leading CAD/CAM software vendors in the early 1990s, all design-based applications were hosted on UNIX workstations, at that time a mix of Silicon Graphics, DEC Digital, HP, Sun Microsystems and IBM machines. Fortunately my company had very good relationships with the hardware vendors and we were able to get the latest workstations for demonstration purposes. Our 3D graphics based applications at that time were ideal for showing off the performance of the UNIX workstations. However from a customer point of view, these workstations were very expensive and unless you were the size of company such as Ford, Boeing or Caterpillar, then it was difficult to get access to sensibly specified UNIX workstations for running CAD/CAM applications. Over the last twenty years, PC-based workstation technology began to improve exponentially and some of the larger discrete manufacturers started to make the shift towards PC-based hardware solutions; and this had a knock on effect with the UNIX market. Coming from the EDI side of OpenText’s business, I know the importance of some of the more ‘mature’ technologies. Companies will not stop using EDI and other mature technologies because they offer benefits that no other technology can offer in the market and the same can be said of UNIX workstations. Over the years I have seen a split in the market. Automotive, aerospace and heavy industrial companies have been using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions from PTC, Dassault and Siemens and are today running these applications on highly specified PC-based platforms. However in the high tech and energy sectors, particularly oil and gas, there is still a very heavy dependence on using UNIX-based workstations, especially in a virtualized environment. But why is there a difference in UNIX versus PC usage between these different industries? Typically in the automotive, aerospace and industrial sectors, manufacturers will produce complex 3D models of their final products. These 3D models are being used for downstream manufacturing processes such as CNC machining or 3D printing and other business processes such as marketing. The products manufactured in these industries lend well to being viewed in multi-platform viewing tools, for example taking a customer on a virtual tour of their new car, simply by using fly through viewing technology on an Apple iPad. Manufacturers can use PLM technology to build complete virtual models of their products and in addition to manufacturing and marketing, this digital information can be used for real-time simulations and even for through-life service and support applications. A whole eco-system has evolved to support these particular PLM solutions in PC-based environments. One of the reasons for this is due to the customer need to access digital information about a product through any type of platform, from PCs, tablets and all the way through to smartphone devices. By comparison, the high tech industry uses Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools to design the circuity on their silicon chips. Running simulations is another common requirement across semi-conductor manufacturers, being able to test circuit designs and ensure that chips are operating per their intended design parameters. Both of these design related processes require high powered workstations to complete the work in a timely manner. The oil and gas industry also performs numerous different types of simulations with analysis of ‘seismic surveys’ being one of the most common. Being able to analyse seismic surveys to construct 3D models of rock formations in near real time to help identify potential pockets of oil and gas can significantly speed up the overall exploration process. But how can remote UNIX users ensure that they can get un-interrupted access to networked UNIX resources in order to run such simulation processes? In another scenario, what if Shell for example was working with external design partners such as Halliburton on a new oil processing plant and these partners needed joint access to 3D design information? What if the design partner did not have access to UNIX workstations, let alone the design applications to open up the 3D CAD models? Today’s design environments are truly collaborative in nature and this is why a virtualized UNIX environment offers many benefits for companies operating in the high tech and oil and gas sectors. UNIX workstations have long been regarded as the design automation workhorse of these industries which is why today; UNIX workstations are still being used extensively in these particular industry sectors. There is another reason why UNIX workstations are so popular in the oil and gas sector. This sector has traditionally retained staff for a long period of time and many design staff will have been in the industry when UNIX workstations started to take over from mainframe-based environments in the late 1980s. However energy and high tech companies face another challenge when compared with their peer companies in the discrete manufacturing sectors mentioned above, the flexibility that PC-based platforms have over UNIX. But there is a solution which I will discuss in a moment. Over the last twenty years manufacturers have globalized their operations to support their customers, entering new markets such as China or India. They would typically establish new manufacturing plants and in some cases establish regional design offices to support local customer needs. For example in China the consumer typically prefers to be driven rather than drive the cars themselves. Many car manufacturers have setup remote design offices in China, requiring them to buy high-end, PC-based workstations and PLM design software licenses to run on those PC workstations. So this is great news for the discrete manufacturer who can scale up their design function quite easily by adding more PCs to their network infrastructure, but what about the semi-conductor manufacturers and oil and gas companies that also need to diversify into new markets and globalise their operations? How can they scale up their UNIX infrastructure to support the needs of their global business? As companies globalize their operations, they need to provide remote access to network resources such as the design applications used across the high tech and oil and gas sectors. For example Cadence and Intergraph respectively provide design applications for these particular industries, but how do you scale your UNIX-based design infrastructure without adding significant costs to your business, i.e., purchasing more UNIX workstations and at the same time not compromising on network security? The high tech industry has been plagued with network hacking issues over recent years. Designs for the latest semi-conductor chips are stolen from corporate networks and before you know it a cloned semi-conductor chip has been manufactured in the Far East. But if you need remote access to a UNIX based infrastructure how can you ensure that the connectivity between the remote user and the location hosting the UNIX application is secure? My first experience of using a virtualized computing infrastructure was back in the late 1990s when Sun Microsystems introduced their Java based Ray workstations. You popped your smart card into the Ray workstation, this provided a form of identification to the workstation, and you were then presented with a thin client that was able to access UNIX applications hosted in a remote data centre location. At the time I was building complex demonstration environments and the Sun Ray offered a unique way to access information that would traditionally have required a full blown UNIX workstation. Now admittedly the processing power on the early Ray workstation was not great for manipulating graphics and in fact later in its life the Sun Rays were used for running more general business applications rather than high end PLM solutions. But the concept of running applications remotely on thin clients was certainly a great idea and one which is still in wide use to this very day, especially in the high tech and energy sectors. However the technology used to run remote UNIX applications has moved on considerably. Here at OpenText, we offer a number of solutions to help companies manage, archive and access their digital information, irrespective of the type of platform you might be running on. OpenText Exceed VA TurboX, ETX, is a remote access connectivity solution, which allows organizations to deploy UNIX applications virtually to their users by keeping them running on UNIX servers, while allowing users to remotely access them through a web browser and achieve the same user experience than if they had the application installed on their desktop, no matter the distance between them and the data centre, both securely and centrally managed. ETX is ideal where the user needs to run high performance applications:- UNIX applications are accessible from anywhere in the world with no decline in performance, always secure and centrally managed ETX lets people work and collaborate virtually on UNIX applications from Windows, Linux and UNIX desktops anywhere in the world It removes the limitations and the complexity of traditional remote access solutions by offering the fastest connection to your business wrapped in a uniquely intuitive user experience Designed for the enterprise data center, it improves the security, manageability and availability of your UNIX applications So whether your business is in high tech, oil and gas or other industry sectors such as financial services where virtualised platforms can help reduce operational costs across your IT infrastructure, ETX can help companies take a big step into the digital first world. ETX allows companies to get products to market or deliver capital projects to their customers in a much shorter timeframe. Companies are able to improve how computing resources are deployed and it allows a centralized, private cloud to be established. ETX allows employees to be more productive through 24/7, global access to corporate business information and finally this is all achieved through a highly secure and regionally compliant solution. If you would like a free trial and further information on our ETX solution then please visit our dedicated web page by clicking here.

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EDI and B2B Insights – What Kinds of Analytics Do I Need?

In my last blog, Why Your EDI and B2B Processes Need Analytics, I provided examples of the kind of B2B analysis questions that you need to have answers for in order to improve competitiveness in your business. I have found three pre-requisites that will create value from your B2B data via analytics: A foundation of good-quality B2B data for analysis. If you are already automating your B2B processes, you are likely to have some of this critical data already upon which your analysis can be based. The definition of what you want to measure and how the results can be visualized in a way that enables you to understand trends, markets, customers and suppliers. I provided some examples of these in my last blog, Why Your EDI and B2B Processes Need Analytics. The analytics tools to deliver the B2B data visualizations you need and that can help you to engage decision-makers. Below is a “ladder” of the types of analytics capabilities in sequence from the fundamental capabilities at the bottom to the advanced capabilities at the top. Most companies are beginning to incorporate the first few capabilities at the bottom rungs of the ladder, and will need to start to plan how to incorporate those at the top in order to successfully compete in their chosen markets. Standard Reports – these are pre-defined, configurable reports that provide key information about files and transactions you exchange with your trading partners. These typically include powerful capabilities to sort, filter, save, schedule and distribute. For example, you may wish to see a monthly report of all orders received from all your customers. Adhoc Querying & Reporting – this is the capability to search and generate custom reports on your B2B transactions by document type, trading partner, date, time, status, and more. You can define the fields to include on the report and tailor it to your specific needs. Dashboards and Alerts– These provide both the timely “track and trace” data needed to address exception conditions and the summary data needed to identify performance trends, drill down to view specific details and export the data through integration with Microsoft Office. For example, below is a transaction dashboard that provides a visual summary of transaction activity and exception situations. Furthermore, it provides volume trends by document type and trading partner. So now, at a glance you can see which transactions need your immediate attention (e.g. purchase orders that have not been acknowledged), which documents account for the highest volume (e.g. invoices are in the 2nd spot after carrier shipment statuses), and which trading partners account for the highest transaction volumes. Configurable Dashboards – This provides the ability to integrate and combine EDI and non-EDI data from various applications and gain insights into supply chain trends concerning reliability, responsiveness, flexibility, trading partner performance, e-invoicing performance, etc. In addition, these dashboards can be integrated with workflows based upon user-defined rules. For example, if the dashboard shows that order volume from a customer drops by 20% over a month, it can trigger a user-defined business process and/or send a notification to specific users in the organization. Predictive Modelling – This is an advanced capability that few businesses have today, but which is now possible with the latest analytics technology. Sophisticated statistical models that analyze B2B data available from various applications can help you forecast trends and needs in inventory management, logistics and all other areas requiring strategic planning. Scorecards – This is a visual display of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as order acceptance, invoice accuracy, delivery punctuality, ASN timeliness, and fill-rate. The scorecard enables you to measure, evaluate and analyze supplier performance. This information can then be used by buyers and suppliers during negotiations when justifying business awards and pricing. Benchmark / Index – This capability benchmarks an organization’s performance against the industry and provides insight into those processes that trail or exceed your competition, thus enabling your organization to take appropriate action. If this blog has interested you and you would like to learn more, click here to watch this new on-demand webinar, Using Analytics to Unlock the Value of your B2B Data.

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OpenText Study Proves that B2B Integration Significantly Improves Supply Chain Performance

Over the past few months I have posted a few blogs highlighting the results from a new OpenText sponsored study by IDC Manufacturing Insights. The study demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between how increased adoption of B2B Integration technologies directly improves supply chain performance. In fact take a look at how key supply chain metrics are improved through the adoption of B2B integration technologies. To wrap up this project I just wanted to highlight how you can download further information about this study. The following link will allow you to access a recorded version of the webinar that we hosted with IDC in early March, a copy of the webinar slides, the executive white paper and finally the infographic shown below. IDC created the infographic to help illustrate some of the key findings from the study. Click here to access this content. Finally, if you would like to access the various blogs that I have written in support of this new study then please click on the following links :- General Introduction to the Study Automotive Industry Findings High Tech Industry Findings CPG Industry Findings  

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Why Your EDI and B2B Processes Need Analytics

Once your B2B business processes are automated and transactions are flowing electronically (usually leveraging EDI and XML), you will need to have visibility into those transactions in order to speed up your decision-making, respond quickly to changing customer and market demands, and optimize your business processes.  This type of actionable business insight into your B2B transaction flows is exactly the kind of information you need at your fingertips to remain a competitive leader in your market. There are several types of information – analytics – to which you need quick and easy access in order to make informed and actionable business decisions. According to a recent Aberdeen Group report (1), 65% of companies indicated that they need to improve their analytics capability. And half of all the companies said they are not spending enough on analytics capabilities.  The study also showed that high-performing businesses are three and a half times more likely to use analytics than low performers. Imagine that you are the buyer in an ordering transaction. The analytics capabilities you want will provide answers to questions such as: When will the goods I ordered be delivered? Will there be a shipment delay? What percent of my B2B suppliers are sending me advance ship notices on-time? What are the top document types I’m exchanging with my suppliers? Who are my top suppliers and how many transactions have I completed with them? Who are my top- and bottom- performing suppliers based on specific KPIs (such us complete orders, accurate shipments, on-time deliveries) Now, imagine that you are the supplier in an ordering transaction. You want  answers to questions such as: Has my customer submitted the order I’ve been awaiting? Was my order accepted? Has my invoice been paid? Which of my customers sent me the most orders during the holiday season? Which of my customers send me lots of changes to their purchase orders? Which of my customers pay on time; which ones pay late? For which customers has the order volume increased or decreased by more than 20% over the last 6 months? Armed with the insights from these capabilities you can: Immediately react to exception conditions to avoid problems, such as late deliveries that would negatively impact your customer service, increased costs due to expedited service requirements or increased inventory Evaluate the performance of suppliers against KPIs and then proactively collaborate with them to improve performance and lower costs Award more business to your high performers, based on quality, timeliness, and other key performance indicators Ensure that future sourcing negotiations take performance and quality into account – e.g. when you are the buyer you can negotiate for lower prices in return for more orders with your best suppliers; as a supplier you can highlight excellent performance in requesting more business from your customers. Manage more partners more effectively with automated processes and scoring/analysis tools In my next blog I will describe the different types of analytics that can be applied to obtain these types of critical B2B process insights. To learn more about the steps in the journey to unlock the value of your supply chain data, attend this webinar on Thursday, April 9, 2015: Using Analytics to Unlock the Value of Your B2B Data.  Register Now >> (1) Bob Heaney, “Supply Chain Intelligence: Descriptive, Prescriptive, and Predictive Optimization,” Aberdeen Group, February 2015

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Step Aside Cloud, Mobile and Big Data, IoT has just Entered the Room

This article provides a review of the ARC Advisory Group Forum in Orlando and expands on the ever increasing importance of analytics in relation to the Internet of Things The room I am referring to here is the office of the CIO, or should that be CTO or CDO (Chief Digital Officer), you see even as technology is evolving, the corporate role to manage digital transformation is evolving too. Since 2011, when Cloud, Mobile and Big Data technologies started to go mainstream, individual strategies to support each of these technologies have been evolving and some would argue that in some cases they remain separate strategies today. However the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the strategic agenda very quickly. For some reason IoT as a ‘collective & strategic’ term, has caught the interest of the enterprise and the consumer alike. IoT allows companies to effectively define one strategy that potentially embraces elements of cloud, mobile and Big Data. I would argue that in terms of IoT, cloud is nearly a commodity term that has evolved into offering connectivity any time, any place or anywhere. Mobile has evolved from simply porting enterprise applications to HTML5 to wearable technology such as Microsoft HoloLens, shown below. Finally Big Data which is broadening its appeal by focussing more on the analytics of information rather than just archiving huge volumes of data. In short, IoT has brought a stronger sense of purpose to cloud, mobile and Big Data. Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the ARC Advisory Group Forum in Orlando, a great conference if you have an interest in the Industrial Internet of Things and the direction this is taking. The terminology being used here is interesting as it is just another strand of the IoT, I will expand more on this naming convention a bit later in this post. There were over 700 attendees to the conference, and a lot of interest, as you would expect from industrial manufacturers such as GE, ABB, ThyssenKrupp & Schneider Electric. These companies weren’t just attending as delegates, they were actually showcasing their own IoT related technologies in the expo hall. In fact it was quite interesting to hear how many industrial companies were establishing state of the art software divisions for developing their own IoT applications. For me, the company that made the biggest impact at the conference was GE and their Intelligent Platforms division. GEIP focused heavily on industrial analytics and in particular how it could help companies improve the maintenance of equipment, either in the field or in a factory by using advanced analytics techniques to support predictive maintenance routines. So how does IoT support predictive maintenance scenarios then? It is really about applying IoT technologies such as sensors and analytics to industrial equipment and then being able to process the information coming from the sensors in real time to help identify trends in data and how it is then possible to predict when a component such as a water pump is likely to fail.  If you can predict when a component is likely to fail, you can replace a faulty component as part of a predictive maintenance routine and the piece of equipment is less likely to experience any unexpected downtime. In GE’s case they have many years of experience and knowledge of how their equipment performs in the field and so they can utilise this historical data as well to determine the potential timeline of component failure.  In fact GE went to great lengths to discuss the future of the ‘Brilliant Factory’. The IoT has brought a sense of intelligence or awareness to many pieces of industrial equipment and it was interesting learning from these companies about how they would leverage the IoT moving forwards. There were two common themes to the presentations and what the exhibitors were showcasing in the expo hall. Firstly cyber-security, over the past few months there has been no end of hacking related stories in the press and industrial companies are working very hard to ensure that connected equipment is not ‘hackable’.  The last thing you want is a rogue country hacking into your network, logging into a machine on the shopfloor and stealing tool path cutting information for your next great product that is likely to take the world by storm.  So device or equipment security is really a key focus area for industrial companies in 2015.  Interestingly it wasn’t just cyber-security of connected devices that was keeping CIOs awake at night, a new threat is emerging on the horizon.  What if a complete plant full of connected devices could be brought down by a simple Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat, this was another scenario discussed in one of the sessions at the conference. So encryption and shielding of data is a key focus area for many research establishments at the moment. The second key theme at the conference was analytics. As we know, Big Data has been around for a few years now but even though companies were good at storing TBs of data on mass storage devices they never really got the true value from the data by mining through it and looking for trends or pieces of information that could either transform the performance of a piece of equipment or improve the efficiency of a production process.  By itself, Big Data is virtually useless unless something is done which results in actionable intelligence and insight that delivers value to the organisation. Interesting quote from Oracle,93% of executives believe that organisations are losing revenue as a result of not being able to fully leverage the information they have. So deriving value from information coming from sensors attached to connected devices is going to become a key growth sector moving forwards. It is certainly an area that the CIO/CTO/CDO is extremely interested in as it can directly impact the bottom line and ultimately bring increased value to shareholders. I guess it is no surprise then that the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, OpenText, should acquire Actuate, a leading provider of analytics based solutions. Last week the Information Exchange business unit of OpenText, which has a strong focus on B2B integration and supply chain, launched Trading Grid Analytics, a value add service to provide improved insights into transaction based information flowing across our cloud based Trading Grid infrastructure. With 16 billion transactions flowing across our business network each year there is a huge opportunity to mine this information and derive new value from these transactions, not just in the EDI related information that is being transmitted between companies on our network. Can you imagine the benefits that global governments could realise if they could predict a country’s GDP based on the volume of order and production related B2B transactions flowing across our network? Actuate is not integrated to Trading Grid just yet but it will eventually become a core piece of technology to analyse information flowing across not just Trading Grid but our other EIM solutions.  It is certainly an exciting time if you are a customer using our EIM solutions! Actuate has some great embedded analytics capabilities that will potentially help improve the overall operational efficiency of connected industrial equipment. In a previous blog I mentioned about B2B transactions being raised ‘on device’ , well with semi-conductor manufacturers such as Intel  spending millions of dollars developing low power chips to place on connected devices, it means that the device will become even more ‘intelligent’ and almost autonomous in nature.  I think we will see a lot more strategic partnerships announced between the semi-conductor manufacturers and industrial equipment manufacturers such as GE and ABB etc. Naturally, cloud, mobile and big data plays a big part in the overall success of an IoT related strategy. I certainly think we will see the emergence of more FOG based processing environments.  ‘FOG’ I hear you ask?, yes another term I heard at a Cisco IoT world forum two years ago.  Basically a connected device is able to perform some form of processing or analytics task in a FOG environment which is much closer to the connected device than a traditional cloud platform.  Think of FOG as being half way between the connected device and the cloud, ie a lot of pre-processing can take place on or near the connected device before the information is sent to a central cloud platform. So coming back to the conference, there was actually another area that was partially discussed, the area of IoT standards.  I guess it is to be expected that as this is a new technology area it will take time to develop new standards for how devices are connected to each other and standard ways for transporting, processing and securing the information flows. But there is another area of IoT related standards that is bugging me at the moment!, the many derivatives of the term IoT that are emerging.  IoT was certainly the first term defined by Kevin Ashton, closely followed by GE who introduced the Industrial Internet of Things, Cisco introducing the Internet of Everything and then you have the German manufacturers introducing Industry 4.0.  I appreciate that is has been the manufacturing industry that has driven a lot of IoT development so far but what about other industries such as retail, energy, healthcare  and other industry sub-sectors?  Admittedly IoT is a very generic term but already it is being more associated with consumer related technologies such as wearable devices and connected home devices such as NEST.  So in addition to defining standards for IoT cyber security, connectivity and data flows, how about introducing a standard naming convention that could support each and every industry? As there isn’t a suitable set of naming conventions, let me start the ball rolling by defining a common naming convention!  I think the following image nicely explains what I am thinking of here. In closing, I would argue, based on the presentations I saw at the ARC conference, that the industrial manufacturing sector is the most advanced in terms of IoT adoption. Can you imagine what sort of world we will live in when all the industries listed above embrace IoT, one word, exciting! Mark Morley currently leads industry marketing for the manufacturing sector at OpenText.  In this role Mark has a focus on automotive, high tech and the industrial sectors. Mark also defines the go-to-market strategy and thought leadership for applying B2B e-commerce and integration solutions within these sectors.

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Forget the Oscars, Tata Motors Won a Bigger Award in Mumbai

Last week I had the pleasure of attending our Innovation Tour event in Mumbai, the first leg of a multi-city tour of the world to showcase our Enterprise Information Management solutions and how they help companies move to the digital first world! The event was very well attended and it was good to see keen interest being shown in our new offerings such as Actuate and Core and our other more mature EIM solutions. Enterprise World has traditionally been our key event of the year, but the Innovation Tour provides a way for OpenText to get closer to our customers around the world, Mumbai was no exception with keen interest shown in our expo hall. I have been to India before, two years ago in fact, to meet with an automotive industry association that looks after the ICT needs of the entire Indian automotive industry. Back then, the discussion was focused around B2B integration. However, last week’s event in  Mumbai showcased all solutions from the OpenText portfolio. One of the interesting solution areas being showcased by one of our customers was Business Process Management (BPM) and it is only fitting that one of our Indian based customers won an award for their deployment of BPM. Why fitting? Well, India has long been the global hub for business process outsourcing, so I guess you could say there is a natural interest in improving the management of business processes in India. OpenText has a strong presence in the Indian market. OpenText presented a number of awards during the event, and Tata Motors was the worthy winner of the award for the best deployment of BPM. Incidentally, Tata Motors also won the global Heroes Award at last year’s Enterprise World event for their deployment of our Cordys BPM Solution. So who are Tata Motors, I hear you ask? Well, they are the largest vehicle manufacturer in India with consolidated revenues of $38.9 billion. Tata Motors is part of a large group of companies which includes Tata Steel, Jaguar Land Rover in the UK, Tata Technologies and many other smaller companies that serve the domestic market in India. Tata Group is fast becoming a leading OpenText customer showcasing many different EIM solutions. For example, Jaguar Land Rover uses OpenText Managed Services to manage the B2B communications with over 1,200 suppliers following divestiture from Ford in 2009. Tata Steel in Europe also uses our Managed Services platform to help consolidate eleven separate EDI platforms and three web portals onto a single, common platform. So, simplification and consolidation of IT and B2B infrastructures is a common theme across Tata Group, and Tata Motors is no different with their implementation of OpenText BPM. Tata Motors has struggled over the years to exchange information electronically with over 750 vehicle dealers across India. Varying IT skills, multiple business processes, combined with having to use a notoriously difficult utilities and communications infrastructure across the country was really starting to impact Tata Motor’s business. In addition, their IT infrastructure had to support over 35,000 users and there were over 90 different types of business application in use across 1,200 departments of the company. So ensuring  that accurate, timely information could be exchanged across both internal and external users was proving to be a huge problem for Tata Motors. Step forward, OpenText BPM! Tata Motors decided to depoy our Cordys BPM solution as a SOA based backed platform to connect all their business applications and more importantly provide a common platform to help exchange information electronically across their extensive dealer network. Even though they had deployed Siebel CRM across their dealer network, Tata Motors faced a constant challenge of having to process a high volume of manual, paper based information, quite often this information would be inaccurate due to mis-keying of information. A simple mistake, but when scaled up across 750 dealers, it can have a serious impact on the bottom line and more importantly impact customer satisfaction levels with respect to new vehicle deliveries or spare parts related orders. Tata Motors had a number of goals for this particular project: Implement a Service Oriented Architecture – Primary objective was to setup a SOA environment for leveraging existing services and hence avoid re-inventing the wheel. They also wanted to use this platform to streamline the current integrations between multiple business systems. Process Automation / Business Process Management – They had a lot of manual, semi-automated of completely automated processes. Manual or semi-automated processes were inefficient and in some cases ineffective as well. Some of their automated processes were actually disconnected with actual business case scenarios. So the goal for implementing BPM was to bring these processes more nearer to ‘business design’, thus improving efficiency and process adherence. Uniform Web Services Framework – Tata Motors goal was to try and establish a single source of web services that could convert existing functionalities of underlying service sources into inter-operable web services. So, what were the primary reasons for Tata Motors choosing OpenText BPM? It was a SOA enabler, its business process automation capabilities, comprehensive product for application development, minimizes the application development time and improved cost effectiveness. Their BPM implementation covered two main areas: Enterprise Applications Integration – mainly deals with inward facing functionalities of employee and manufacturing related process applications. They had many applications but they had a common fault, they did not follow SOA principles. Web services had to be developed inside every application which was very inefficient from a time and resources point of view. In addition, if an application had to connect to SAP then it was an independent, unmanaged and insecure connection. Customer Relationship & Dealer Management Systems Integration –Tata Motors is the biggest player in the commercial vehicles sector in India and one of the biggest in terms of passenger car related sales, with over 750 dealers scattered across India. The dealerships are managed using Siebel CRM-DMS implementation but with many changes being rolled out across the system it needed a supporting platform to effectively manage this process. Cordys became the primary environment for developing CRM-DMS applications. So in summary, Cordys BPM has been integrated with SAP, Siebel CRM-DMS, Email/Exchange Server, Active Directory, Oracle Identity Manager, SMS Gateway and mobile applications across Android and iOS. The Cordys implementation also resulted in a number of business benefits including, improved process efficiency, stronger process adherence, built on a SOA based platform, significant cost and time savings. The project has already achieved its ROI ! Moving forwards OpenText BPM will act as a uniform, centrally managed and secure web services base for all applications used across Tata Motors landscape, irrespective of the technology in which it is developed. The platform will also provide an evolving architecture to mobilise existing applications and they plan to integrate to an in-house developed document management system. Finally, the go forward plan is to move their Cordys implementation to the cloud for improved management of their infrastructure. I have visited many car manufacturers over the years and one company head quartered in the Far East had over 300 dealers in Europe and each one had been allowed to implement their own CRM and DMS environments to manage their dealer business processes. Prior to the acquisition of GXS (my former company) by OpenText, I had to inform them that GXS didn’t have a suitable integration platform to help seamlessly connect all 300 dealers to a single platform. With OpenText BPM we can clearly achieve such an integration project now and Tata Motors is certainly a shining light in terms of what is achievable from an extended enterprise application integration point of view. Congratulations Tata Motors! For more information on OpenText BPM solutions, please CLICK HERE. Finally, I just want to say many thanks to my OpenText colleagues in India; it was a very successful event and a team effort to make it happen. For more information on our Innovation Tour schedule, please CLICK HERE

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Is your EDI program strategic? If yes, find out which documents you need to implement. (part 2)

In my last blog on this topic (Is your EDI program strategic? If yes, find out which documents you need to implement. (Part 1) I introduced the Purchase Order Acknowledgment and the Purchase Order Change and discussed how you can derive benefits from both these documents regardless of the industry sector you are in.  In this blog, I focus on documents that are of specific benefit for anyone in, or working with, the retail sector. Here are a few you should definitely consider. Product and Price Catalog This is a key document that a supplier sends to its retailers.  It enables the supplier to provide product and price information for the retailer to use during the purchasing process.  This document, which is also known as a “sales catalog,” includes information about each product such as: Item identification number Detailed item description, including color, size, dimensions and other unique identifiers Ordering requirements, such as lead time and required quantities This is one that you would use most with third-party catalog providers, but it can also be used on a peer-to-peer basis with your main trading partners. The master product data information in this document is re-used in many other supply chain transactions, so it’s important that it contains accurate data so that errors can be reduced in purchase orders, ship notices and invoices, among other documents. This will enable significant quality improvements and benefits both retailer and supplier.  Ultimately, starting out with good data will speed product delivery to the retailer and eliminate discrepancies between purchase orders and invoices, and for suppliers, this should result in faster payment. Inventory and Product Activity Data Advice Retailers usually send this document to their suppliers to give them information about inventory levels, sales numbers and other related product activity information, such as which items are on back-order.  It should include: Item identification number On-hand inventory quantity by store Type of product movement, such as items sold, out-of-stock, received or on order Future demand calculations This versatile document can also be used in supplier-managed stock replenishment programs and sales forecasting.  Furthermore, for drop-ship orders, (those that are shipped directly to the consumer), it is probably the single most critical business document that can be exchanged. Most retailers’ e-commerce applications rely upon inventory feeds from their supplier here in order to determine whether products can be available for consumer purchases on websites. Delivery Confirmation This document is also extremely useful for direct-to-consumer delivery. Most products sent via a drop-ship process travel with small package carriers. The supplier obtains a tracking number from the carrier and provides it to the retailer via the Advance Ship Notice document.  Any automated communication typically ends at that point and so if order status is needed, the only way to get it is to contact the carrier. Instead, you could have complete end-to-end visibility of your order status if you ask the carrier to send a Delivery Confirmation document to confirm consumer receipt.  This helps the supplier to close the purchase order and to manage the payment and settlement cycle.   Click here if you are interested in learning more about EDI in the retail industry. And here are a couple of blogs about how EDI ASNs support retail-specific business processes: How EDI ASNs Enable Direct Store Delivery Direct Store Delivery (DSD) How EDI ASNs Enable Drop-Shipping   The post Is your EDI program strategic? If yes, find out which documents you need to implement. (Part 2) appeared first on All About B2B.

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Could File Sync and Share Radically Simplify B2B Commerce?

File Sync and Share services like Dropbox and Box.net have made it easier than ever to share files with co-workers or colleagues at other companies. You create a shared folder with another registered user then drag and drop the file you want to exchange. A copy will be placed in the other user’s folders. Even unregistered users can receive files. They receive an email with a download link. Why can’t exchanging documents with business partners in your supply chain be this easy? What if there was a file sync and share service designed for Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions? Here is how it would work. A user would establish a shared folder with each of their key business partners (customers, suppliers, banks). To make things simpler, they could search through a directory of all the businesses registered on the service and simply check a box next to those they wanted to share with. For example, a small apparel supplier (let’s call them Stripes Inc) might create folders for each of their customers – Walmart, JC Penney, Macys and Sears. When Stripes wanted to send an invoice to a retailer (for merchandise it shipped to their stores) an accounting clerk would simply copy and paste the file (PDF, spreadsheet, EDI) into the appropriate shared folder. Every few minutes the file sync serve would poll Stripes’ folder for new content. Each new (or changed) file would be copied to the retailer’s folder. Similarly, Stripes could set up folders for its banking partners (factors, cash management and trade finance providers). When Stripes wanted to send payment instructions an accounts payable clerk would simply copy them into the appropriate folder. The file sync service would identify the new files and copy them to the bank’s folder as well. Doesn’t this sound much easier than the painful supplier portals that small businesses have to endure today? No more logging into 10 different web portals. No more re-keying data (e.g. invoice fields from an accounting system). No more swivel chairing back and forth between your internal business applications and an online forms. File Sync and Share services would be faster, cheaper and easier to use than today’s web portals. File sync and share is extremely low cost. In fact, it is free in some cases. As a cloud service, file sync and share does not require users to purchase any additional software. And there is no re-keying of data required. Most end-users would require no training to learn the technology. To make this a reality, file sync and share services would need to evolve. First, these services would need to adopt enterprise-grade security. Second, file sync and share vendors would need to change their privacy policies so they could not snoop on the data being exchanged. Third, formal service level agreements would need to be in place to ensure high availability. Some functional enhancements would be required as well. Big companies are already exchanging millions of B2B transactions per day using communications protocols such as AS2, FTP and MQ. To gain adoption and endorsement, a new B2B file sync and share service could not expect large retailers, automakers, manufacturers and financial institutions to make significant changes to their IT environment. The file sync service would need to be able to send/receive files to/from corporate B2B gateways using B2B protocols such as AS2 and FTP. RESTful APIs could allow big companies to pull files every few minutes onto their own B2B gateways as well as to obtain meta-data about the files exchanged. A whole suite of value-added services could be created in the cloud. Examples might include: • Translation – PDF, Word and other unstructured document formats could be scanned and converted into XML using OCR technologies. Similarly, variants of EDI, XML and other standardized messages could be translated from one format to another in the cloud. • Data Validation – Services that check to ensure all the appropriate fields in a document (e.g. invoice) are populated. Documents with missing data would not sync. The sender could be notified with a user-friendly error message highlighting the fields requiring attention. More thoughts on file sync and share in an upcoming post. The post Could File Sync and Share Radically Simplify B2B Commerce? appeared first on All About B2B.

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Should you say “YES” when your customer asks you to implement EDI?

I just completed a series of blogs about EDI onboarding of a supplier community. Those blogs assume that the reader is the buyer in the relationship.  But, if you’re the supplier in the relationship, you may be wondering what’s in it for you to comply with your customer’s request to trade electronically.  Here are just a few of the benefits you will be likely to enjoy: Better relationships with customers For many companies today, EDI is a prerequisite for doing business.  You have a greater likelihood of starting and maintaining a positive business relationship by replying: “Yes, of course we can receive your Purchases Orders (PO) via EDI.” “Yes, we will send you Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) so you will know exactly when your orders will arrive and what is included in our shipments.” “Yes, we will use barcode labels on our shipments so you can scan our shipments upon arrival and achieve greater productivity in your warehouses and distribution centers.” More revenue from current customers Answering positively to your customers’ EDI requests means your company is seen to be easy to do business with.  That frequently results in receiving more orders from the same customers. That, of course, in turn translates into higher revenues. A competitive edge Once you have developed your EDI capabilities you then have a competitive edge that you can proactively use as a differentiating service feature during the sales process with new prospects and other customers, both locally and internationally.  This means that your sales team will be happy because they don’t have to worry about whether they can accept a new customer order or not.  (Watch this video case study to hear Harper Collins describe how EDI has enabled them to accept new customer orders without fear.) Faster payments and better cash flow If you’re receiving purchase orders and sending invoices electronically, a common by-product is faster payments as a result of the faster invoicing process.  Your EDI invoice is more likely to be complete and accurate.  Thus, it can be approved for payment sooner and you should receive the funds earlier – particularly when early payment discounts are available. You should definitely say “yes!” when your customer asks you to exchange business documents via EDI.  It’s a win-win whether you’re the buyer or the supplier! If you want to learn more about the basics of EDI, you may be interested in reading this short EDI Basics book. The post Should you say “YES” when your customer asks you to implement EDI? appeared first on All About B2B.

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