EDI

Building Supply Chain Resilience and Compliance

supply chain resilience

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

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3 Steps to Retail Supply Chain Excellence Using Dynamic Collaboration

Retail supply chain excellence

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

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Digital Transformation Across Supply Chains – IDC Infographic

Digital Transformation

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

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

Digital Transformation

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

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5 Active Applications Sessions at Enterprise World

Enterprise World

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

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Drive Productivity With Secure Connectivity Among Automotive OEM’s and Global Trading Partners

OpenText ANX

OpenText™ ANX, as part of the OpenText™ Business Network, enables Automotive and Healthcare organizations to digitize their trading partner ecosystems and supply chains for greater efficiency and agility. For the automotive industry, a reliable supply base is essential to growth. As a result, a stream of new alliances and trading partners are added every year. The key to enabling strategic collaboration and interactions among OEMs and these trading partners is the secure, reliable flow of information. Handling the volume and complexity of this data exchange is challenging. What’s more, Intellectual property is flowing between companies, across geographies and time zones creating a critical need to securely transfer this privileged information. Any disruption of this communication can cost millions of dollars for every minute of downtime. OpenText ANX provides secure, private, B2B connections between North American companies through its ANX network. For automotive companies seeking a secure connection to OEMs or suppliers in Europe, ANX provides managed connectivity to ENX, the European Network Exchange. This secure connection affords strict SLAs for availability, performance and repair that far surpass public internet solutions. It enables OEMs and suppliers to reduce the complexity and costs of B2B data exchange as well as respond faster to change. Would you like to be a catalyst for increased productivity, improved customer and partner relationships, and better integrated processes through secure, reliable connectivity? Also learn how premier OEMs are securely exchanging information throughout their global supply chain and quickly on-boarding new trading partners to keep pace with emerging markets and the competition? Then you should attend this informative session at Enterprise World 2017: BNN-207 Drive Productivity with Secure Connectivity among Automotive OEMs & Global Trading Partners Globalization of the automotive industry, complexity of supplier integration, vendor churn, and market expansion prompt the need for secure connectivity to and from global manufacturing hubs. New alliances are formed requiring the fast on-boarding of new partners involved in the design and production of a vehicle. As a result, intellectual property is continuously flowing between companies, across geographies and time zones creating a critical need to securely transfer this privileged information. Any disruption of this communication can cost millions of dollars for every minute of downtime. Supporting the transfer of data and mission critical business processes internally and across your global trading partner community requires a highly available, secure, accountable network with reliable performance. Come join us to learn how we can quickly on-board new partners and ensure the security of your intellectual property across your global supply chain.

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

GDPR

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

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How Supply Chains are Embracing Digital Disruption

Digital

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

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Extending the Digital Supply Chain to Smaller Businesses with OpenText Freeway

Digital supply chain

One of the key challenges facing today’s procurement and supply chain operations is being able to digitally enable the end-to-end supply chain. Without 100% participation from all your trading partners it will be difficult to introduce an entirely digital supply chain. Whether you operate in the retail, consumer goods or automotive sectors, the challenge is the same, persuading your smallest trading partner to exchange transactions electronically with you. OpenText™ Business Network is the largest B2B integration platform in the world, we offer a range of B2B enablement tools to suit every size of company. From fax-based solutions right through to direct ERP integration-based solutions. Many smaller companies struggle to exchange B2B transactions electronically with their customers and sometimes being able to exchange transactions electronically is a condition of doing business. The main challenges relate to having limited technical expertise or simply not knowing where to start. OpenText™ Freeway is an affordable range of B2B e-commerce solutions that enables small and medium sized businesses to create, send, receive, print and manage EDI-based business documents. Built on over 15 years of experience, Freeway can either operate on-premises or in the cloud, the choice is yours. OpenText Freeway removes the pain of working with your customers, automating manual processes and removing paper based transactions, it’s all about improving time, efficiency, and reducing operational costs. Freeway Entry is ideal for the smaller company who just requires a B2B solution which is quick to deploy and relatively cheap to implement. Whereas, Freeway Professional is designed for the larger company that needs to integrate to back-office systems such as accounting packages and ERP systems. Freeway Professional integrates to over 200 different systems. With many industry specific trading partner modules available for retail, automotive, building, pharmaceutical and wholesalers, Freeway has been designed from the ground up to be quick to deploy and simple to use. For example your business can leverage over 1000 trading partner enablement kits to simplify how you work with key business partners across different industry sectors. I could use the remainder of this blog to discuss Freeway in a bit more detail, but why not take a look at our new video which introduces the range of Freeway solutions. You can access the video below. Whether on-premises or in the cloud, Freeway can add real value to your business. Freeway has been sold in the UK for many years, but we are making plans to expand our support of Freeway into other countries, all I can say for now is watch this space, things just got exciting for small and medium sized business! For more information on Freeway, please visit our website where you can also contact our team of experts who will be ready to assist with your query.

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Ten New Ways Business Network Supercharges Your B2B Integration Strategy

B2B

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

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Discussing B2B Integration at OpenText Innovation Tour APAC

OpenText Innovation Tour

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

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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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