Business Network

Updating a Classic: Top 3 Reasons to Streamline Your Fax Infrastructure

Faxing may seem outdated, but it became popular in the business world for a reason. It allows organizations to quickly and securely exchange information. In fact, fax is used worldwide millions of times each day to send purchase orders, claim forms, supplier quotes, contracts, and a multitude of other documents. Faxing has a long history as a trusted and secure form of communication, and it’s still at the heart of many business processes and workflows today. If any of your business operations rely on fax, it may be time to consider an enterprise fax server solution that can make your fax infrastructure more efficient and productive. Consider these top three reasons to update your fax solution: Increased Productivity: The latest fax solutions turn formerly paper-based faxing into electronic-based faxing, essentially taking the “paper” out of the process wherever possible. Fax servers integrate with desktop environments and email systems, which allows employees to send and receive fax documents directly from their computer. This greatly improves worker efficiency by letting users work from their preferred environments. Reduced Costs: Companies that rely on paper-based fax machines know how time-consuming, costly, and frustrating they can be. By implementing electronic-based faxing and getting rid of physical fax machines and phone lines, you can reduce both the amount of money and IT support your organization will need. The right fax solution helps you accelerate business processes in a cost-effective manner. Improved Compliance: Businesses face serious risks from noncompliance, with both financial and reputational ramifications. Government regulations and standards are constantly evolving, impacting how businesses around the world secure and manage their information. As pressure grows to more closely manage fax communications and document processes, leading organizations are turning to enterprise fax solutions to help them secure, track, and store information for compliance purposes. Faxing may be a classic, but it can be made more efficient and productive by increasing the speed of transmitting, routing, and processing faxed documents. Let the experts guide you through understanding desktop fax, your solution options, and what matters most when selecting a fax solution. Sign up for the Desktop Fax Solution Webinar Series.

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Announcing the Customer Communication Suite Release 5.1

We are pleased to announce the 5.1 release of the Customer Communication Suite (CCS) on October 27, 2014. This version is available to existing customers through Actuate Licensing. This release includes numerous product improvements, including a number of enhancements and all cumulative fixes from previous releases. This release encompasses the following products: Process Designer 5.1, Process Manager 5.1, Repository 5.1, Document Transform 5.1 and Data Transform 6.7. Existing customers can obtain release documentation from the Actuate Customer Support Portal. Release documentation available includes Release Notes, Technical Summary of New Features whitepaper, Supported Products Matrix (including product obsolescence information), documentation and more! Highlights of improvements in the CCS 5.1 release include: Process Manager Alternate Text Manager to improve the implementation of alternate text for accessible documents Increased flexibility in all products through the implementation of scripting support using JavaScript Enhanced API functionality to provide enhanced interoperability and integration with existing business systems Usage tracking reporting within Administration Console to enable administrators to track usage and anticipate future needs Document Transform Automated Page layout detection to improved usability and decrease new project setup time Repository Enhanced Repository reporting to include drill downs, and new user reports allowing administrators to monitor and tune existing applications Help System Enhanced help system to increase ease of use and support mobile / tablet browsers We encourage existing customers to plan your upgrade to CCS 5.1 as soon as possible to take advantage of the latest improvements and functionality. We look forward to having our Professional Services teams in North America and Europe work with you should you require their expert assistance with your implementation upgrade. For support information, please contact Customer Support.

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

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

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Actuate Tops Dresner Embedded BI Report, a Critical Tool for Data-Hungry Execs

A little horn-tooting first: Actuate was ranked as the No. 1 vendor in the “Dresner 2014 Embedded Business Intelligence Study.” The study is the latest in Dresner’s “Wisdom of Crowds” series of market insights. These reports comprise the only comprehensive research on BI usage and trends from the viewpoint of the customers, and virtually all BI vendors are ranked. It’s a really big deal for us to be recognized by the input of companies like yours in this kind of report. Our competition included all of the traditional and emerging business intelligence software providers. We left them all in the dust. Actuate was the only ranked vendor who met 100 percent of the Embedded BI architecture requirements, including rarely provided desktop widgets, Google Gadgets and Python API. Actuate was also ranked as providing superior custom, white-label branding for companies such as banks and telecoms who provide their customers with data driven analytics apps. Now we’ll put the promo banner down for a bit to bring you the other big news from the Embedded BI report: You and your manager are extremely likely to have embedded BI on the list of most critical software tools for your organization in the next year… so its’s best to be prepared!, Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services advises. “Across all relevant technologies, embedded BI technology falls into the top third of initiatives considered strategic to business intelligence,” the report states. “This reflects awareness and openness toward embedded technologies and an expectation that they will support more pervasive uses of BI.” The survey combines the ratings of roughly 2,500 organizations including crowdsourcing and the BI software vendor community. Dresner added the Embedded BI Report to his industry reporting to better understand how organizations are using embedded BI within data-driven apps they are creating for internal and external customers. The Value of Embedded BI It’s impressive to think that embedded BI ranks ahead of other enterprise concerns, including mobile device support, data mining and advanced algorithms, and software as a service and/or cloud computing. But why Embedded BI? What’s it good for? Typically, embedding business intelligence allows development teams to provide personalized analytics in their data driven apps. These apps let users get the maximum benefit of their data mining, ad hoc queries, dashboards and performance monitoring. Companies using financial management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and marketing automation tend to use embedded BI in their own apps. But the specific applications targeted for embedded BI vary by industry, according to the Dresner report. Manufacturing businesses favor transactional and planning platforms, whereas retail and wholesale businesses favor embedded BI support for Web portals and workforce management. Technology companies are likely to use embedded BI to help them improve marketing and call centers. The emphasis on embedded BI could not come at a better time for the vendor community, says Dresner. This year, organizations see a broad span of targets for embedded BI that cover the full range of traditional back-office transaction systems all the way to operational and customer-facing Web applications. “Like the user sample, industry respondents have a strong view of the importance of embedded BI in 2014,” Dresner said in the report. “There is good industry support for integration resources and preferred BI features. Industry support for core embedded technologies has been increasing and in many cases is nearing 100 percent.” Other Points Of Interest There are a couple of standouts in the Dresner report that bear exploration. First off, very small companies (between 1 to 100 employees) and very large companies (more than 5,000 employees) were the most enthusiastic toward a range of embedded BI approaches. HTML, iframes, Web services, and JavaScript are the most popular mechanisms for embedded BI. Custom branding and white-label solutions are also in high demand. Vendors consider sales the most important area of focus for embedded BI, followed by marketing automation and, curiously, workforce management, which may be a function of short-term staffing. Among larger organizations, the number-one application is Web portals. Companies centered in Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific were most likely to identify embedded BI as a critical function of their business, although even in North America, it’s still considered a positive investment.   As more companies provide services for customers and end users, embedded BI will continue to take a lead role in shaping those data driven conversations.        

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Monetizing the Data on Business Networks

The business model for most social networks is to offer free access to a large community of users then seek to monetize the content being created on the network with third parties. Some networks use the content on their networks to offer more highly targeted advertising than has been available historically. For example, LinkedIn can better target job ads by leveraging the data it has about its users (e.g. the skills and experiences listed in their profiles). Facebook takes a similar approach to targeted advertising. Facebook can analyze the content you offer about hobbies, interests and products you have purchased (data most brands would struggle to get through other channels) to serve up relevant ads. Business networks, however, have very different business models than social networks. Business networks do not offer their services for free. And they historically have not tried to monetize the data being exchanged on their network. Business networks have grown up using old-fashioned, 20th century business models in which you charge end-users directly for services they consume. Suppose a bank sends 100,000 daily account statements out to its customers. The bank would then pay a per document change for each of the 100,000 statements. If a retailer issues 5,000 purchase orders in a month then it pays a corresponding fee for each purchase order. In some cases, customers are offered a flat monthly fee as long as they do not exceed a certain transaction volume. A direct fee, usage-based model would never work on social networks. Can you imagine if Twitter charged you for every tweet or follower? Or if Instagram charged by the megabyte for every photo you shared? Or if Facebook charged you for each post you liked? Conversely, the business model for social networks would never work for business networks. A business network that analyzes their data for the benefits of an unknown third party would scare off most companies. The data exchanged on a business network is not in the public domain (like a social network) so it cannot be sold to advertising agencies or any third party. The data really cannot be sold to anyone. It is owned by the companies that send or receive it. However, business networks could analyze the data from individual companies and sell the insights back to them. Using data from business networks we could better understand financial and supply chain performance. Networks could possibly identify risks or issues that are not easily obtainable from a company’s ERP systems. For example, you might be able to identify changing consumer demand patterns that would provide you with an early warning of a possible economic slowdown. Or you could estimate how long it will take shipments to traverse the pre-holiday congestion at California ports. Despite the massive potential, few business networks have released analytics or reporting services to customers. And those who have released these services have not been able to generate a significant revenue stream yet – at least not that has been publicly disclosed. Are business networks simply failing to execute on the opportunity? Could it be that customers don’t really see the value analyzing data in business networks make sense? Or are the privacy concerns by corporate users providing too big of an obstacle to overcome?  

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How Not to Build a Digital Business

How do you become a digital business? You may discover many different paths to success on your digital journey, and even more opportunities to take a wrong turn along the way. Here are three traps to avoid, inspired by some classic Beatles songs plus a turn of phrase from Taylor Swift. Be sure you never ever get caught in these mistakes as you build your digital business. What’s a Digital Business? In Gartner’s recent study, 22 percent of the respondents defined themselves as already being a digital business: one focused on a world where people, businesses and things communicate, interact and even negotiate with one another. What paths are being taken to build those digital businesses? A large segment of the Gartner study — 41 percent — defined themselves as a digital marketing business, a stage that leverages the Nexus of Forces (social, mobile, cloud and information) to build intimate relationships with their customers that advance their businesses. Cognizant views businesses being reshaped into digital businesses by how customers behave: “the way we shop, consume entertainment, socialize, learn and do just about everything, every day. It’s the digital lives of customers that are changing the rules of engagement and we’re seeing their loyalty grow stronger for the brands that keep pace.” Based on a survey conducted by Circle Research for Vodafone, machine “behavior” is driving digital business and more importantly digital business returns. The research found that digital Machine-to-Machine (M2M) adoption has increased by more than 80 percent globally in the last year and revealed that nearly all (96 percent) of the America organizations implementing M2M strategies have experienced a return on their investment (ROI) such as greater competitive advantage, customer service and productivity. For Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of The Second Machine Age, it is all about artificial intelligence and the pace at which digital technologies are growing in power that will inform the path to digital business. An interesting article in Tech Republic gives some examples, from Brynjolfsson and others, of what our digital business future might look like. These range from call center operators gradually being replaced by question-answering, automated systems (Think “When Watson Met Siri”), to the declining cost of sensors “driving” automation of transportation and logistics occupations. A new research report from the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) assessed the readiness of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, designed to transmit safety information between autos and warn drivers of imminent crashes. NHTSA estimates that anywhere from 25,000 to 592,000 crashes could be prevented and save roughly 50 to 1,083 lives per year. In a recent meeting with ARC Advisory, the conversation turned to the industrial Internet of Things and then on to the subject of consumer impacts. In the digital business world of the future, refrigerators will alert what and when they need to replenish, and grocery shelves will leverage their connected digital supply chain to drive demand response back through to supplier distribution centers and logistics providers. Cars will drive themselves and notify insurance firms and garage services when they break down, negotiate claims and arrange payment and repair. While we consider just how distant or near a future all this might be, I wish to make it clear I would much prefer to have a chef and a chauffeur. Just old fashioned I guess, but one who does recognize that our collective progress towards digital business is at times exhilarating, at other times disappointing, and at all times inevitable. So with that as backdrop, here are three common mistakes to avoid as you build your digital business. Mistake #1: Digital business is just a new kind of psychedelic experience Gartner states, “Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds.” It predicts that by 2020, 75 percent of businesses will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one. Some might say the best way to achieve this blurring is through psychedelic experience — just listen to the Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to be transported to a world of “tangerine trees and marmalade skies.” As business people we need to be careful that the bright shiny object of “digital” does not blind us on our path forward. Digital innovation and creativity need to stay grounded in and aligned with the strategic direction of the business, with clear context to the parent industry. As McKinsey states in finding your Digital Sweet Spot, “To capture the value available, organizations will need to assess the value at stake, invest proportionally to that value, and align their business and operating models accordingly.” Not all industries face the same opportunities or the same threats. The McKinsey study found that industries in the “eye of the digital storm,” like retail banking, property and casualty insurance, and mobile telecommunications that offer virtual rather than physical products and focus on processing and servicing, need to have a strategy for digital that includes omnichannel distribution. McKinsey projects that digital-channel use in these sectors will average 35 percent bottom-line impact, while cost-base potential reductions could average 20 percent. On the other hand, industry sectors like grocery retail and apparel need a different strategy. For them, digital sales may realize only a 20 percent average bottom-line impact over the next five years. A significant opportunity, but much less than the potential bottom-line impact from digital driven cost reductions, which could average 36 percent. So as business moves on its digital path, those who forget the basics of good market analysis and business strategy do so at their own peril. Just look back to the dot.com days, when Webvan was founded as an online grocery store. According to C-Net, “Webvan went from being a $1.2 Billion company with 4,500 employees to being liquidated in under two years.” What looks to be a much smarter trend is the birth of gourmet marketplaces like Foodoro with food crafted by artisan producers. A startup with a targeted market aligned with their digital business strategy. Hmmm, I need to look to see if they are selling “tangerine trees and marmalade skies.” Mistake #2: To find the right path you must look within The great George Harrison wrote a song called The Inner Light based on a passage from Tao Te Ching “Without going out of my door I can know all things on earth.” He was heavily influenced by the Beatles time in India and his truly inspirational advice might work well for the path to enlightenment. For the path to digital business, I believe this approach could prove to be fatal. Getting outside yourself is critical, look outside your business, to your partners and your customers, and keeping your industry structure and dynamics in mind. McKinsey notes “The potential impact of digital technology varies widely by industry, but most enterprise leaders share an important challenge: how to get beyond the small share of the prize they are capturing today by looking for impact across the whole value chain.” The Boston Consulting Group perspective, Exploiting Digital Disruption, asserts that because digital technologies enable companies to work more easily across traditional boundaries, it can result in leapfrogging entire links in the value chain. “The most common example is manufacturers using e-commerce capabilities to bypass wholesalers and distributors by establishing or strengthening direct distribution channels with customers. The risk to traditional wholesalers and distributors is high.” McKinsey also makes the critical point that a too-narrow focus on distribution channels means organizations are getting only a small share of the full value that digital transformation can provide. That narrow focus may also be leaving organizations vulnerable to new entrants and agile incumbents that can translate operational improvements across the full value chain, combined with innovative operating models, into better, cheaper, more customized products, faster service, and an improved customer experience. For organizations that can step back and apply their digital investments in such a holistic way, the prize is significant.” This dynamic is showing itself in the Financial Services industry where new entrants are employing digital business models to disrupt traditional banks and insurance companies. Point approaches or applications fall short as a means to counter this insurgency. What is needed is a digital omnichannel approach integrated with digital marketing, client onboarding and servicing. As important as it is to take an external view on your digital transformation journey, it is also important to look within to ensure you have the competencies in place to execute on your holistic digital business vision. Perhaps George had it right all along. Mistake #3: Digital business is all about process. Digital business is all about content There is a constant and natural tension between those who favor process and those who favor content as THE best path for digitizing business in a meaningful way. Your personal perspective is shaped by professional history, your current role in the organization, and often by the nature of the particular challenge you presently face in building your digital business. Here again, we can learn much from the Beatles song book. Come Together is the lead song on their Abbey Road album that had some of the last Beatles recording sessions. Recorded in 1969 and originally politically inspired, this song wound up illustrating the clash between Lennon and McCartney that would ultimately lead to the end of the Beatles in 1970. If Team John vs. Team Paul gives us any lesson, then it is perhaps that it is time for Team Process and Team Content to come together to best move the digital business forward. I’ve written extensively about adaptive case management technology and disciplines that can bring together process and content for your business initiatives. Business processes are essential to digital business as the engines of work activity. They move you forward in your daily job, help propel strategic initiatives, and perhaps most importantly, give you the framework to make and implement good business decisions. Content is equally critical because it represents essential information needed to fuel your business decisions, and as such it is most valuable when properly served and effectively consumed by your business processes. My conclusion then is that process and content together are a powerful means to drive better business results. Digital business advances are increasingly being used by companies to differentiate and gain advantage over the competition. If you’re in the Insurance industry, that might mean a focus on better approaches to managing customers through multiple channels – brokers, agents, online and more. In Banking, efficient customer on-boarding, new account opening and servicing are considered critical to success. And, in the supply chain sector, meeting customer and supplier SLAs (service level agreements) can be the singular difference. All of these will require an integrated content and process strategy with technology that comes together to support that approach. The long and winding road As in so many disruptive situations, there is no single straight path to success. To build a digital roadmap for your business, you’ll need to ask where the value is to your enterprise in operating as a digital business. To identify and pursue the value you will need to align to your strategic business initiatives, look to the external forces impacting your vertical industry, and consider the full breadth of digital technologies and methodologies available to you. While you are doing all that it couldn’t hurt to listen to more Beatles for inspiration!  

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iTAC Helps Manufacturers Improve Operations with BIRT iHub [Case Study]

We think we live in a digital world, but manufacturing still touches every aspect of our lives today. The cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the tools we use, and even the food we eat today is the product of an integrated global supply chain and complex manufacturing processes. But the digital world of IT and physical world of manufacturing are inextricably connected: Successful manufacturers leverage powerful IT to monitor and manage their machines, resources, logistics and more to improve quality, reduce costs, and deliver the right goods at the right time. For more than 15 years, Germany-based iTAC Software AG has helped companies merge the worlds of IT and manufacturing. iTAC (short for Internet Technologies and Consulting) produces highly specialized manufacturing software. Its Manufacturing Execution System (MES) suite is cloud-based, Java EE-powered application that enables IP-based monitoring and management of every aspect of a manufacturing environment – essentially turning factories and supply chains into a real-world workbench in the Internet of Things (IoT). Automotive, electronics, medical, and other discrete manufacturers worldwide use iTAC.MES.Suite to optimize product quality and increase production. iTAC maintains a diverse team of skilled developers who clearly know how to produce powerful, useful software. So when iTAC decided to integrate Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities into iTAC.MES.Suite, the company’s developers could have built these embedded analytics capabilities on their own, from scratch. But instead, they chose the iHub platform to provide embedded analytics in their application.  iTAC selected iHub for its flexibility, speed, and ability to integrate seamlessly into iTAC.MES.Suite. “With iHub, we can produce attractive, compelling visualizations in no time from application data,” said Dieter Meuser, iTAC’s CTO. “Just as quickly and easily, the iHub platform can be integrated in any IT architecture and takes on the branding and security model of the main application.” A new Actuate case study, available for free download, explores iTAC’s use of BIRT iHub. The case study explains why iTAC chose BIRT iHub for embedded analytics and details the benefits of Actuate’s software, including secure integration, enhanced reporting, and support for the Internet of Things (IoT) – a key element of Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative for creating smart factories. Download and read the iTAC case study today.

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Building Smarter Cities with EIM

History is written by the winners. In a Digital-First world, there’s a whole slew of them: Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Facebook, Wikipedia, Pinterest, YouTube, GoPro, T-Mobile, Yelp— the list goes on and on. These organizations have successfully fused imagination with technology to introduce new business models and change the way consumers buy, the way companies market, and the way enterprises operate. There are examples in every industry, as the winners outpace the losers who to fail to reinvent themselves as digital enterprises, passing over opportunities fueled by disruptive digital technologies. This is why transformation in a Digital-First world is the focus of Enterprise World 2014, our annual user conference. Join us this year in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as we look ahead to the year 2020 and explore a new enterprise landscape—one that is impacted by innovative technologies, digital and mobile consumers, changing demographics in the workplace, a digital supply chain, and the digitization of information and processes. At the conference we’ll demonstrate how Enterprise Information Management (EIM) equips the enterprise to simplify, transform, and accelerate its business in a Digital-First world. Highlights of the conference include: The very talented Martin Short, guest speaker at this year’s conference takes the stage on Wednesday, November 12. You won’t want to miss a chance to spend time with one of comedy’s finest performers. Thought-provoking keynote presentations. We’re bringing together an array of business leaders, industry visionaries, acclaimed analysts, and innovative customers to share their experience, best practices, and strategies for success in a Digital-First world. Join me as I sit down with special guests Fox Broadcasting Company and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) for a fireside chat. An extensive and engaging agenda, packed with informative presentations, breakouts, and roundtable discussions designed to help you maximize your investment in OpenText technology. Preview future OpenText solutions and product roadmaps that have been developed to support business evolution and transformation. Hundreds of training and workshop sessions will be available, organized by track across technologies, solutions, and industries—designed to help your business excel. Become part of a growing global ecosystem. Connect with professionals from all industries, including OpenText partners and solution providers. See solutions in action and become a part of a network with innovation at its core. Evaluate and test drive recent innovations at the Innovation Lab. Collaborate with OpenText user experience designers and researchers. Have a say, and influence future product development. The release of latest book, Digital: Disrupt or Die. Hot off the presses, this book explores the future of digital technologies, their impact on the enterprise, and how EIM equips the enterprise to brace for change and opportunity in the year 2020 and beyond. Also available: a 2020 Readiness Assessment Tool. Stay tuned for more details. Join in the conversation. Follow us on Twitter (#OTEW2014) and explore our other social channels to access conference highlights and network with your peers. Engage, explore, and absorb the tools and strategies that combine to create success in a Digital-First world. Enterprise World 2014 is a celebration of our customers and partners. We are committed to working with all of our stakeholders to embrace emerging technologies, digitize key processes and information, and increase the speed of information delivery throughout the entire business network. I invite you to be a part of the energy, excitement, and ingenuity that builds new partnerships, and drives business transformation.

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Implementing Software for Customer Communications Management Rapidly and Effectively

When addressing Customer Communications Management (CCM), enterprises usually seek a quick and effective project. This post delves into 2 technical issues that play a key role in implementing and running such a system. Predefined Interfaces Help Cut Costs In CCM, one big issue is that of interfaces and connectivity. In other words, how does one add and retrieve data from connected systems into a document; for example, adding the customer information stored in a typical CRM system to digital correspondence? 3 solutions to this issue are explained below: 1. Pull strategy The CCM software retrieves (this is known as the “pull process”) the required data in real time from the source such as the CRM system. This process is preferably deployed on two fronts: for on-demand documents, composed in a call center or on a Web portal, and for interactive documents, which can be highly personalized by adding information retrieved from a CRM system. 2. Push strategy The source system hands over (this is known as the “push process”) defined data packets to the CCM software in an XML format or as a flat file. This approach needs only to be defined once, and then delivers the best performance. In addition to composing interactive documents, this method is best suited for personalizing mass mailings in stacks or batches. One refers to these as “structured documents”, with one example being monthly phone bills. 3. Combination strategy This takes the best from each of the two aforementioned strategies. Based on the application, specific data is handed over to the CCM software while other dependent data can be retrieved in real time via a pull process. This approach functions well for highly personalized interactive documents and for mass mailings or batch processing. These 3 strategies cover the majority of cases, but custom solutions can also be created and used to handle special configurations. For example, Internet services can also be integrated into the CCM software in the area of SOA. Standard Technologies Offer Security Usually, the use of reliable, standard technology eliminates dependence on software manufacturers and their release cycles. The OOXML data format is one good example of a standard application used for customer communications. OOXML – A Standard for XML-based File Formats Microsoft developed the OOXML standard as one means to store documents using XML- based file formats. This format was released in 2008 as the ISO/EC 29500 standard for data exchange between different applications. It is an open format. CCM systems use OOXML for generating various documents. The CCM software interprets the data per defined rules, variables, and dependencies, in order to create documents in the OOXML format or as a print data stream. The resulting correspondence can be delivered to a customer in either printed or electronic formats. Print data streams are languages used by printers to control the entire printing process, and are commonly called PDL (Page Description Language). Systems using the OOXML format as a standard for data processing offer two decisive advantages: Security through ISO certification An open format for full compatibility The second aspect is really useful for handling data. If the internal data format of a program is “open” for CCM purposes, it means that all companies on the market have equal access to the software without facing any legal or technical restrictions that could limit further development. With OOXML, it is also possible to reuse the data or content for printing or other electronic output formats. Seamless Integration of Legacy Systems Using data formats based on the OOXML standard, a company can connect any prior system(s) they have. However, problems may arise in using or connecting a third party system that is proprietary (i.e. neither free nor an open source). One thing is certain – avoiding standard technologies makes it more difficult to find appropriate consultation, and leads to increasing dependence on software manufacturers. It is evident that CCM software offers the greatest possible flexibility for accessing incoming data, and the implementation effort remains reasonable.  

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It’s not Just Harry Potter Casting a Spell at Enterprise World This Year!

We are just a few weeks away from Enterprise World, OpenText’s premier conference for customers and partners from around the world. This year’s conference will take place at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Now there are many reasons why we think you should attend this event but if you want to learn how Enterprise Information Management (EIM) can remove some of the digital disruption facing your business in the near future then this is the event for you. My role at OpenText is to define and drive the global strategy for the manufacturing industry (covering the automotive, high tech and industrial sectors) and to help companies embrace our EIM solutions. I have attended numerous GXS conferences over the years but this will be my first visit to Enterprise World since OpenText acquired GXS earlier this year. I am looking forward to casting some magical spells during the various sessions that I will be hosting and helping companies to embrace our solutions for their journey into the fast moving digital world! So why the magical references I hear you ask?, well for the simple reason that on the Thursday evening of the event, OpenText will be taking over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida®. Should be quite an evening, but of course the main reason to register for this conference is to attend the many breakout sessions that will be available and to network with industry peers. Now we could just let Hogwart’s ‘Sorting Hat’ decide which of the many sessions, listed here , you should attend during the conference, however I have decided to provide some guidance in terms of the key manufacturing sessions that will be taking place, each session is 45 minutes long. Tuesday 11th November 1:55pm – How Panasonic is Modernizing their B2B Network to a Consolidated, Cloud Based B2B infrastructure – This session, hosted by Panasonic Europe will discuss how the company is modernizing and consolidating their European B2B infrastructure onto a single, cloud based platform, OpenText™ Managed Services. The session will discuss some of the business challenges faced by Panasonic and how a cloud approach to managing their B2B platform is helping to streamline their supply chain operations. 4:05pm – How Digital Disruption will Impact Manufacturing Supply Chains of the Future – 2014 will be remembered as the year when digital transformation projects went mainstream. Many companies are undertaking such projects, but how will new technologies such as 3D printing, wearable devices and the Internet of Things impact these projects? This session will take a look at these new technologies and how they are likely to disrupt manufacturing operations and supply chains in the future. Wednesday 12th November 1:55pm – Best Practices for Electronically Exchanging Information with Trading Partners – OpenText recently sponsored a new research study that was conducted by IDC Manufacturing Insights. The study, entitled, How B2B Integration Drives Superior Supply Chain Performance, surveyed 270 global manufacturers to understand how companies were using B2B integration technologies today and how this helps to drive improved supply chain performance. This session will review key findings from the study and tests the hypothesis of how B2B integration directly impacts supply chain performance. Thursday 13th November 11:15am – Working Together to Drive Improved B2B Innovation – This session, hosted by Michelin, will discuss how the company is taking a partnership approach with OpenText to deploy their B2B Managed Services platform in Europe. Michelin discusses how the partnership approach has benefitted both companies in terms of driving product innovation and providing a way to jointly explore new opportunities for deploying other OpenText B2B solutions across their business. 3:10pm – Collaboration & Information Governance with Your Supply Chain Partners/Vendors – Managing trading partner communities is an important part of today’s supply chain environments. Ensuring that companies can work collaboratively with trading partners anywhere in the world helps to significantly improve operational efficiencies. OpenText™ Active Community provides a collaborative community management platform that allows companies to work seamlessly with their global trading partners. This session will briefly introduce Active Community and how it can be used to manage a relatively new regulatory compliance initiative relating to the removal of conflict minerals from global supply chains. 4:10pm – Roundtable Discussion with Panasonic – This last session that I will be hosting provides a forum for a select group of conference attendees to meet with Panasonic and ask more detailed questions about their B2B implementation. These types of sessions are normally beneficial for all involved as they provide a perfect opportunity to network with industry peers who have a shared interest in a specific area of B2B integration. In this case learn more about how an outsourced B2B approach benefitted Panasonic’s business. So there you have it, a fairly busy week for me, but I am looking forward to it. My colleagues in our industry marketing team will be equally busy, so if you have an interest in Life Sciences, Energy / Oil & Gas, Government and Public Sector, Financial Services or Media and Entertainment then take a look at our dedicated conference website, via the banner graphic below, for further information. With breakfast roundtables, one to one meetings and many other networking sessions, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet our industry team here at OpenText. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando between 9th and 14th November. If you are unable to attend our conference then please remember that you can follow our industry team on our dedicated blog, click here

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Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

A cloud fax service provider usually has many unique capabilities. There are some questions we should ask EVERY cloud services provider. For example what is the service level agreement they provide? What about their track record with regards to customer base, on-going infrastructure investment and network capacity? But even these questions aren’t enough. When vetting an enterprise-class cloud fax service provider “capable” isn’t enough; you want strength in these areas. Some of the specific strengths to look for are: company finances – if the cloud fax provider is a publicly traded company – you can investigate their financial health. Research overall company reputation and position in the market. whether the cloud fax provider’s clients include a significant portion of Fortune 500 companies – proves they possess the ability to interact, consult and service large organizations that typically operate on a global scale if on-going investment in their cloud network and platform infrastructure is a strategic imperative – confirms a commitment to keeping their network optimized and aligned with the latest cloud technology standards and protocols number of users of the service – if they’ve served millions of customers it shows the cloud fax provider has a proven track record of successfully handling customer inquiries, implementations and deployments, as well as discrepancies issues number of transactions annually – millions or billions of transmitted messages each year indicate scalability, meaning the cloud fax provider possesses the necessary pedigree and capacity to support large data transmissions, including peak periods Many vendors offer several cloud fax solutions to address various information management issues; most are very capable at it too. However OpenText’s history of offering enterprise-class cloud fax services across a multitude of industry verticals, spans over 20 years. During that time it’s allowed us to become not just “capable“, but the leader in cloud fax services. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax

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Introducing BIRT iHub F-Type: Integrating into Applications

If you’re familiar with open source BIRT and what the out-of-the-box options for integration are, you know that you had the viewer that could be called by URL, the viewer tag library that allowed you to embed the viewer into a JSP page, or a custom solution you built using the BIRT APIs. With BIRT iHub F-Type, you still have the ability to call visualizations by URL, but you also add the JavaScript API (JSAPI) which allows you to easily embed BIRT content into any page that allows for the use of JavaScript. In this blog, I’ll show a couple quick examples of calling reports by URL and a couple simple examples of using the JavaScript API to embed BIRT content into a web page. Calling Reports by URL When the only integration you care about is to be able to link out to a design from your application or webpage, a simple URL will do. If you’re upgrading your open source application to use BIRT iHub F-Type, you can use the same pattern of URL as you did with the open source viewer, so upgrading is relatively painless. For example: http://192.168.1.107:8700/iportal/frameset?__report=%2FHome%2Fadministrator%2FSampleReport.rptdesign If you’re not adapting an open source application your URL would look more like this one: http://192.168.1.107:8700/iportal/executereport.do?__vp=Default%20Volume&volume=Default%20Volume&__executableName=%2FHome%2Fadministrator%2FSampleReport.rptdesign If you can’t remember the URL pattern, don’t worry. All you need to do is go into the iHub UI, run your design by clicking on it, drop down the menu, and click the “Link to this page” option. The top option in this window is a link to the design. Copy that and use it wherever you need to. There are lots of URL parameters available to customize what you get from your URL. One example of this is adding __format=pdf to the above URL: http://192.168.1.107:8700/iportal/executereport.do?__vp=Default%20Volume&volume=Default%20Volume&__executableName=%2FHome%2Fadministrator%2FSampleReport.rptdesign&__format=pdf This will tell the BIRT iHub F-Type to return the PDF copy of the report output. Using the JSAPI When your goal is to have a more seamless integration of BIRT content into your application, the JavaScript API (JSAPI) is where you’ll want to start. The JSAPI allows you to quickly and easily embed your BIRT content into any page that allows for the use of JavaScript. To make it even simpler, you don’t even HAVE to know JavaScript to do the simplest case of embedding using the JSAPI. The iHub will give you a bare minimum block of code for embedding the viewer into you application by simply running your report from the iHub by URL or from the console, then going to the menu and clicking on “Link to this page” like described in the URL section, above. However, this time, we’ll use the second option. If you copy and paste this into a HTML page, then open it up in the browser, you’ll see the following: As you can see, the entire viewer is embedded into the page allowing you to step through all 11 pages of the report. There are many settings and features that can be set with the JSAPI to customize your embedded content. For example, if you bookmarked an item in your report and would like to only embed that single element into your page, you only need to add a single line of script. In the report I used for this blog, I have bookmarked the chart with “myChart”. Inside the myInit function, we simply use the line viewer1.setReportletBookmark(‘myChart’); and we get a single page in the viewer showing just the chart: Now, what if we don’t want to show the toolbar? To get rid of that, we would just add options.enableToolBar(false); and we’d see just the chart with no toolbar: You can find more of the things you can do with the JavaScript API by taking a look at the API reference in the documentation. The report and sample HTML page used in this blog will be posted in the devShare, soon. I will update the blog with a link when it’s available. Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comments section below or visit the BIRT iHub F-Type forum. You can also find more information about the BIRT iHub F-Type in the deployment guide and documentation. -Michael For more blogs in the “Introducing BIRT iHub F-Type” series, see the list below: Installing iHub F-Type: Windows | Linux | VMWare Image Connecting to Data and Creating a Design Sharing Designs and Other Resources

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Archiving – Do You Need to Upgrade? [Part 2]

Part 2 – Symptoms As an archive system falls behind the times, the symptoms of its failure show up in the organization with increasing frequency and virulence, frustrating users and negatively impacting the bottom line until a tipping point is reached and action is taken. Let’s take a look at symptoms of an outdated Archiving System. An uptick in certain business, governance, and technical problems within an organization could be symptomatic of an outdated archive system. Here are some tell-tale signs to watch out for. Business Symptoms When an organization finds it increasingly difficult to meet important business deadlines or fulfill Service Level Agreements (SLAs), one of the root causes could be a poorly performing archive system. More obviously, a spike in user complaints about system availability or content accessibility suggests that an archive system is no longer meeting users’ needs and expectations. Users may also complain of an inability to extract content or data for targeted messaging, transpromotional marketing (transpromo), next best offer, analytics, and other sales and marketing functions. Another symptom of an outdated archive system is users’ increasing frustration with the lack of basic and advanced search functionality, something that many people now take for granted in modern business applications. Finally, from a cost point of view, when the total annual cost of an archive system increases out of proportion to usage rates or functionality, it’s probably time for a change. Governance Symptoms If an organization is unable to reliably store or locate content that it has a legal responsibility to retain, the archive system should be carefully re-evaluated. Likewise if an organization finds that its ability to mount a vigorous defense against a lawsuit is compromised because it either doesn’t have or can’t find relevant internal documents. An archive system that’s incapable of automatically destroying old or outdated content, as per government-mandated retention guidelines, should also be evaluated for an upgrade because manual destruction of obsolete content is fraught with error. Old content is often left to clog up the system resulting in additional risk of eDiscovery while current content periodically gets prematurely deleted, violating records retention regulations. The most extreme governance-related symptoms are compliance infractions leading to investigations, fines, license revocations, or lawsuits. Technical Symptoms One of the most common (and obvious) indications that an archive system needs an upgrade is the official termination of support by the vendor of a major system component. Without vendor support, the burden of maintaining an aging legacy system—and making it work with newer business systems—falls squarely on the shoulders of the organization itself. Over time, this maintenance burden will increase even as the archive system yields diminishing returns. The system will be superseded throughout industry by newer technology so the pool of IT personnel qualified to maintain it will shrink, making it increasingly difficult and expensive to operate. At some point, the IT department may become unwilling to commit valuable resources to propping up a labor-intensive legacy system built on old technology. Another symptom of an outdated archive system is slow performance, relative to either the system’s past performance or current technology benchmarks. If performance has degraded over time, the system might not be flexible or scalable enough to keep up with the organization’s changing needs. When it becomes prohibitively expensive to boost performance or add new capabilities/features, an archive system should definitely be evaluated for an upgrade. If an archive system has excessive storage requirements because, for example, it retains multiple copies of a logo image that appears in many documents, perhaps it should be upgraded to optimize storage methods and redistribute content to less expensive storage media, thus reducing storage costs. Still on the topic of storage, another symptom of an outdated archive system is the inability to transfer, store, and deliver content in multiple different formats. This technical limitation places unnecessary constraints on what and how organizations serve their customers in a modern, multi-channel environment. Other restrictions on content or data usage can also be symptomatic of an outdated archive system. For instance, an inability to: Combine content into logical groupings or packages Use or combine content from business systems, including other repositories Use content in new business flows or modern channels such as email, mobile, and tablet Integrate data-oriented systems such as analytics and visualization. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, perhaps the most easily recognizable symptom of an outdated archive system is the inability to connect with social media. An archive with social media integration can store customer comments and feedback, providing consumers with additional information and context for the content they are viewing. In the next blog post, we will take a look at the modern features you want when evaluating an archive. To learn more, download a free white paper, How to Recognize When Archiving Has Become a Problem.

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Simplifying the Conflict Minerals Reporting Process

Earlier this year many North American based companies were filing their conflict minerals reports for the first time. The Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Law was introduced to help understand the source of conflict minerals across global supply chains, primarily in the high tech, automotive and CPG manufacturing sectors. This is an area that I have blogged about before, click here & here, however this blog will provide an update on how this year’s reporting process went. I will also be covering this subject in more detail during one of my presentation sessions at our Enterprise World conference next month. This new law was introduced by the US Senate and applies to any North American based company filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC. Companies have to provide evidence that their supply chains are not using conflict minerals. Even though it was just North American based companies that had to report to the SEC, suppliers located in other countries would have to provide evidence to their respective customers in North America of where potential conflict minerals were sourced from. Conflict minerals, namely Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum and Gold (collectively known as the 3TG minerals) are mined all over the world however this new regulation specifically relates to the sourcing of 3TG minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa. Many mines in this region are owned by militia groups and the proceeds from the sale of 3TG minerals are used to fund their military operations. 3TG minerals are used in a range of every day products: The new law aims to check the source of these minerals before they enter the smelter process. In December 2010 the International Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) produced a document describing a five stage process which provides due diligence guidance for sourcing minerals from conflict affected and high risk areas around the world. Stage two of this framework specifically relates to the assessment and reporting process for identifying the source of conflict minerals. To assist with the reporting process, the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) was established to help companies implement a process for assessing their supply chain and to find out where 3TG minerals were sourced from. CFSI devised a SEC approved reporting Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that companies could use for assessing their supply chains. All of the major industry analysts have produced reports offering their own analysis on the sourcing of conflict minerals, however Deloitte succinctly summarised the issues as follows, “The complexity of today’s supply chains combined with the lack of visibility into sourcing practices will be one of the key challenges of ensuring that Dodd-Frank can be adhered to”. So how did companies do during the first reporting period and what were the challenges that they faced during the assessment process? Initial estimates of the number of companies that would be impacted by this new ruling were 6000, however a study conducted by Ernst and Young in June 2014, just after the 2014 reporting process had been completed, showed that the actual number of companies that completed a standard disclosure form to the SEC was just over 1300 and of these just 1000 completed a conflict minerals report as they had reason to believe that 3TG minerals had been sourced from the DRC. The Ernst and Young report went on to say that: Average number of suppliers surveyed was 2500, but ranged from just 5 to over 40,000 suppliers 49% of respondents came from the technology, industrial and CPG sectors 43% of respondents showed sourcing of some portion of minerals from the DRC 52% of companies did not disclose supplier response rates, of those that did respond only 15% of companies had supplier response rate greater than 90% Only 27% were able to provide a list of smelters and refiners After reviewing some of the conflict minerals disclosures on the SEC website it became clear that many companies had struggled to engage with their entire supply chain and in fact there were some remarkably similar issues faced by reporting companies, namely: Ensuring that supplier contact information was up to date to allow reporting template to be sent to them Some companies received no response from their direct and sub-tier materials suppliers, partly due to the complexity of their respective supply chains Information provided by suppliers was often incomplete or inaccurate Suppliers had to be chased up for report submissions to meet SEC’s May 31st deadline Part of the problem related to acquiring information from suppliers is the reporting tool itself, even though it is relatively easy to complete, the main challenge is the distribution of the spreadsheet to a supplier community and then tracking all responses. If a company for example has more than ten thousand trading partners located all over the world then this problem becomes even more complex. OpenText™ Active Community is a cloud based community management platform that is used to manage day to day interactions with a supply chain community. Using a centrally managed archive of supplier contact information combined with comprehensive email management and reporting tools, Active Community can help remove the complexities of managing the distribution of information to a trading partner community. OpenText has re-created the CFSI reporting template within Active Community’s survey module. This means that companies can simply send an email to all their suppliers with a link to a reporting web form and all responses can be tracked and reported on. Using Active Community for the conflict minerals reporting process offers a number of key benefits: Provides an effective cloud based platform for distributing and tracking responses to conflict minerals based assessments Offers a simple and efficient reporting environment to encourage 100% participation from trading partners Ensures trading partner information is accurately maintained within a centralized environment Allows a company to meet an important corporate social responsibility objective and allow a conflict minerals report to be filed on time Even though the reporting process is only mandated by law in North America at the moment, other regions around the world are closely monitoring the US reporting process. The European Union passed a ruling earlier this year that it would allow companies located in member countries to self-certify their supply chains for conflict minerals. The EU ruling currently applies to importers of raw materials and does not include manufacturers and companies importing finished goods. The US and EU rules are intended to introduce more transparency into global supply chains, companies will therefore be ethically compelled to find out what is in their supply chains. Moving forwards it is expected that conflict minerals sourcing will become a core part of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, which of course has board level support in most companies. OpenText has developed a number of resources to explain how we can help companies simplify their reporting process, these resources include an executive briefing document, a short webinar providing more details on the conflict minerals ruling and how Active Community can help and finally a twenty minute demonstration of the CFSI template within Active Community and how it can be used to quickly survey a supplier community. If you would like to see a short introductory video which introduces the conflict minerals ruling then please see the video below. To access our conflict minerals resources, please CLICK HERE. If you would like to learn more about our Conflict Minerals solution or any other solution that OpenText offers then why not register to attend our Enterprise World event in November? I will be presenting a number of manufacturing focused presentations at this event and you will be able to hear case study presentations from Panasonic and Michelin on how they are using B2B solutions from OpenText. Click on the link below for more information. The post Simplifying the Conflict Minerals Reporting Process appeared first on All About B2B.

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Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax

Enterprises operating centrally-based IT organizations are usually challenged when it comes to managing that infrastructure across continents. It’s a lot to handle because of all the requirements associated with multiple IT resources located in different regions, each with their own hardware, software, telecom and telephone services. Supporting all these variables increases IT budgets while adding management complexity. When enterprise service upgrades are scheduled, this complex mix creates a logistical nightmare that can lead to regional management problems and lost productivity. A cloud fax service provider can help circumvent this. They provide enterprises with one external resource for service operation and technical support. For example, issues around dealing with multiple telecom providers in various geographic regions are resolved. Instead these enterprises rely on one vendor to support service delivery to any continent or country. Taken further, enterprises requiring “around the clock” customer service and technical support can trust an enterprise cloud fax service provider’s network operations centers to manage their services 24/7/365. These operations centers have staff with a wealth of experience and knowledge necessary for identifying and preventing technical issues before they get serious. The staff is basically one central resource for all global support and functions including: network monitoring setup and configuration usage training notification case tracking prioritization self-service According to a national survey by Rackspace Hosting, a segment of the findings stated “by a three to one ratio (75% to 25%), IT decision makers prefer a cloud provider with strong technical support.” I think what the research really indicates is that there’s an expectation among today’s IT decision makers that cloud fax service providers can maximize their resources to support its customers’ new-revenue generating activities around the globe. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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The Planet of the Apps – A Case for Wholesale Bank APIs

Let’s play a little game of palm reading. As a consumer, you downloaded your first mobile app somewhere between 2008 and 2010. You got it from a trusted online app store. It was dirt cheap and it didn’t require you to have any IT skills. At that time, the app store made you comfortable that the app was secure enough to enter, browse or retrieve fairly personal or professional data. Let’s continue the palm reading. The app was pre-configured to exchange data with its server somewhere on the Internet so that you could consume the service immediately. The app was very good at a limited number of things (maybe as a video player, an online game, or a document viewer). Then an increasing number of apps became available to choose from. Your behavior shifted in a matter of weeks. You became a picky buyer, downloading the ones that were free of charge, with excellent reviews. Last psychic reading: after getting your first banking app, you never used your personal card reader to generate a pin code to access your bank account over a desktop computer. Corporates are moving treasury functions into the cloud Let’s move back to the world of Wholesale Banking and focus on Corporate Treasury. Accounts payables and receivables business processes have not changed so much over the last five or six years. However there has been a major shift in the way those departments rely on technology to manage liquidity, decrease working capital and keep cash flowing where they need it most. Traditional treasury functions are slowly moving away from in-house TMS systems or ERP modules. A new breed of tools are available that can shave working capital even further as well as the various liquidity positions for a global company. These are the “apps” you and I would consume for mobile banking; however they are definitely on steroids and enterprise-grade. Virtual accounts, cash pooling, supply chain and trade finance are examples of “cloud apps” services a typical Fortune 5000 organization would leverage from a vendor. Banks are failing to compete within this market. Their apps or services are usually dedicated to their own brand and do not overlay other banks. Those bank initiatives never gain critical mass. It is far more opportunistic for them to pursue finding a vendor to facilitate, deliver and promote the whole service or app and to derive revenues from it rather than to deliver it on their own. Financial Institutions fail to publish their services over that same cloud Banks cannot continue to build bespoke integration setups for each and every single new intermediary they agree to work with: payroll service suppliers, service bureaus, SEPA mandate and e-mandate services, commercial cash management cloud platforms, electronic invoicing networks, e-commerce infrastructures…the list of non-FIs and non-corporates goes on forever. Intermediaries always fit in two categories. It is either a shared revenue business or partnership with the bank, or a successful supplier to the client as a result of the banks it can claim to integrate with. The dynamic is no longer one-sided, where the client used to impose the specific integration and service model to the bank. Gaining scale and keeping costs down means that banks have to stop bending over backwards. It is time to consider publishing access to your services in one vanilla manner that is flexible enough to comply with specific business and technical requirements. The answer is something called Service-Oriented Architecture, commonly known as the world of APIs (application programming interface) or web services. Market adoption and compelling events Since 2010, I don’t think a single enterprise software package comes without an API capability. Ask any IT department of a reasonable size and the answer is that every single business application exchanges information with other business applications over an API. Any TMS, ERP, middleware or managed file transfer software release supports APIs. There are even industry best practices around APIs, something called SOA governance. The main reason a bank’s key transaction banking revenues flow over file-based channels is simple: this is the way they’ve been doing it since the magnetic tapes disappeared. Banks stopped collecting magnetic tapes because the file channel enabled clients to transact faster without hours of lag, therefore optimizing their treasury operations. The compelling event for a global market adoption of APIs is exactly the same, more than a decade since the last tape was read in a banking mainframe. A great number of transaction banking executives are taking steps towards rolling out this service model. Most bank mobile apps actually run thanks to those APIs. It is only a matter of time before this becomes a wholesale banking standard. Magnetic tapes and online banking personal card readers belong in a museum. A final psychic reading? The file channel will probably join them within five to seven years. The post The Planet of the Apps – A Case for Wholesale Bank APIs appeared first on All About B2B.

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Wearable Tech’s Big Supply Chain Problem

Earlier this year I was suffering from shin splints and occasional muscle pain after running. So I decided to seek out a wearable technology to help me pinpoint the source of my pain. I ordered a pair of Smart Socks from a startup called Sensoria. Featuring “proprietary smart-fabric,” “e-textile sensors” and “accelerometers” these socks could wireless transmit motion patterns to Sensoria’s iPhone application. I was hoping these socks would provide me insights on the pressure I was putting on my feet so that I could take corrective action to prevent future injuries. That was back in February. As we enter the first week of October I still don’t have the socks or even a committed ship date from the vendor. Hundreds of new wearable technology vendors have entered the market over the past few years. Some, like the Pebble Watch, Fitbit One and Jawbone Up have become household names with millions of sales. Others such as Google Glass and the much anticipated Apple iWatch have enjoyed widespread media attention. But for each one of these blockbuster products there are 100 other wearable tech devices that you have not yet heard of and have not yet generated much revenue. Have you heard of Radiate’s thermochromic shirts that change colors when you exercise? Or OM Signal’s athletic apparel that can monitor your heart rate, breathing and activity levels? Are you aware of the Lumo smart belt which monitors your posture throughout the day – gently vibrating when you slouch? Have you heard of Memento’s lifelogging wearable camera that takes snapshots throughout the day to keep a record of your activities? Are aware of the Puzzlebox Orbiter which allows you to use telepathy to control a toy helicopter with your brainwaves? Analysts might argue that there is a product-market-fit problem with many of the emerging technologies. It is likely true that most consumers are not yet convinced that they need these futuristic technologies. But there is another big problem that is a hidden obstacle to success – a lack of supply chain expertise. On September 10th, the Wall Street Journal published an article highlighting the case of Radiate Athletics, whose $55 workout shirt became an overnight sensation on Kickstarter. Referenced above Radiate’s athletic apparel changes colors like a heat map as you work out. The Kickstarter campaign offered the crowd one (or many) free shirts in exchange for funding contributions. It was amazingly successful. The promotion raised half a million dollars from over 8000 contributors. The three person company was committed to shipping 30,000 orders in four months. Radiate ran into a challenge sourcing the manufacturing due to the sophisticated technologies required to produce the shirts. The WSJ article mentioned that one third of the 30,000 orders still have not been shipped leading to an outrage of backlash on social media channels. One of the co-founders commented “Demand crushed our supply capability.” Cool Wearable Tech Vendor – Radiate (Image Source: www.kickstarter.com) Sensoria, the smart socks startup I referenced above, seems to have run into similar issues. An email I received in late August explained the complexity of the manufacturing challenge required to produce the product. Sensoria evaluated seven different electrical engineering vendors and 70 sock manufacturers to find the right expertise. And the company was only able to offer a ship date for a subset of its products. It is fair to say that again demand substantially overwhelmed supply. My point in writing this post was not to issue a personal grievance about a shipping delay. By the way, I couldn’t be more excited to get the socks. But my point was to identify an emerging pattern with Kickstarter-era wearable tech startups. While these companies are staffed with brilliant entrepreneurs and software developers they are significantly lacking supply chain skills. Success in this emerging market will be driven not only by who has the best idea and the best marketing, but who can actually deliver products to consumers in a reasonable time frame. Startups should consider retaining more supply chain expertise to help evaluate contract manufacturers, freight forwarders, customs brokers and parcel delivery. Entrepreneurs should familiarize themselves with the principles of demand forecasting, international sourcing and multi-modal logistics. The post Wearable Tech’s Big Supply Chain Problem appeared first on All About B2B.

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Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy

Administering enterprise cloud faxing in simple fashion is another one of the messaging service’s benefits. In fact a leading enterprise-class cloud fax service provider should offer a set of unique features that make administration easy to implement and conduct. Let’s say you’re an administrator for an organization that’s decided to incorporate cloud fax into its messaging strategy. Obviously you’re going to spell out the unique fax feature requirements according to your enterprise’s standard communication architecture. Once confirmed, the cloud fax service provider deploys a professional services team that uses web technology to implement those requirements. The team usually consists of project management, sales engineering, account management, customer support and telecom. Once implementation is complete, you’ll become the cloud fax administrator. You’ll be able to log into a secure web portal that gives you the ability to perform the following: Add, change or delete cloud fax users as needed Manage group properties including options to add, edit and re-assign fax users to specific groups Track the overall success of fax message delivery Increase or decrease time users can access archived faxes Establish detailed reports on fax message transmission from the company to the user level Reallocate IT costs to specific departments or groups according to fax volume Self-provision new fax numbers from a pool of providers Other administrative features include number porting as well as blocking.This helps maintain service continuity and avoid disruptions with key customers or stakeholders. I could go on; however the point is there are many administrative functions for onboarding and managing enterprise cloud faxing to add strategic value across your organization. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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EDI Supplier Enablement – Third Party or In-House?

EDI

If you’ve read my recent blogs on Supplier Enablement, (Six Pitfalls to Avoid When EDI-Enabling Your Suppliers – PART 1; Six Pitfalls to Avoid When EDI-Enabling Your Suppliers – PART 2; How to Avoid Pitfall #6 in your EDI Supplier Enablement Program; More on Pitfalls to Avoid When EDI-Enabling Your Suppliers) you will already know some of the obstacles to a successful supplier enablement program and some of the ways to overcome them. And, hopefully you’ve already familiarized yourself with the Supplier Enablement Program Checklist. One of the next questions you need to ask is whether you should do it yourself or you should enlist the help of an EDI Service Provider. If you are outsourcing your entire EDI program, then EDI-enabling your suppliers should be a part of the outsourcing service. But, if you are doing all or part of your EDI integration yourself, you may want to consider outsourcing just the supplier enablement component of your EDI integration program. Here are some of the ways I think that an EDI Service Provider can help you speed up the entire process. In case you wonder, speed matters because when the enablement happens faster, you will reap the benefits of automation sooner (e.g. lower cost, greater efficiency, better visibility). 1. Inform and educate your suppliers Having a good communications process with your suppliers to ensure that they understand your program and how it improves the business process for them, as well as conveying exactly what’s expected of them, is critical to getting their buy-in and participation. The best EDI Service providers will leverage their years of experience in performing these tasks. Furthermore, if your program is global, they should be able address specific requirements such as local language support during local business hours. The best providers will have already developed and honed the processes and tools that can be applied for a variety of program types, saving you the time and cost of doing so yourself. For example, they provide customized educational materials; live webinars with Q&A sessions; secure, personalized websites to streamline outreach and education; and surveys to validate contact and capabilities information. 2. Provide enablement solution options Essential to a successful program is availability of an EDI solution that suits each type of supplier. Some suppliers may prefer a fully integrated solution and need an EDI translator or gateway software. On the other hand, small- and medium-size suppliers may prefer a web-forms solution or an Excel-based solution. An EDI Service provider should be able to provide a range of solutions from software for a fully integrated solution, forms-based or Excel-based solutions. Forms- and Excel-based solutions can be pre-populated with your program-specific templates. Furthermore, they can include built-in business rules and validations capabilities that ensure ease-of-use for your suppliers while simultaneously ensuring document accuracy to prevent errors from polluting your ERP system. 3. Implement, test and report Once your suppliers have implemented the EDI solution that’s best for them, testing is required before they start exchanging live business documents with you. An EDI Service Provider should offer implementation specialists and tools to perform most of the required testing in the shortest period of time for you. When they turn over an “EDI-Ready” supplier, you can then be sure that your supplier can successfully send and receive EDI documents and that the EDI documents also comply with your implementation requirements. This leaves you with a final “end-to-end test” prior to moving the supplier into production mode. Having an EDI Service Provider can eliminate the initial challenges that typically arise during initial testing, saving considerable time for you and your suppliers. A Service Provider should also provide you with ongoing status updates and reports regarding each supplier’s progress. The companies that have leveraged supplier implementation services of an EDI Service Provider have found that their suppliers are fully prepared to trade electronically, quickly. This equals faster ROI for you from your EDI investment and informed, enabled and committed suppliers. You may find this Supplier Enablement Program Checklist a useful tool. It provides a listing of the detailed steps you should complete for each phase of your supplier enablement program, along with a description of each step.

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Choosing the right fax server: Security, privacy and compliance

Organizations today face a multitude of compliance directives and thus their investments in a fax solution must be able to demonstrate tangible capabilities that contribute to the security and privacy of their faxes and associated data. Many businesses that rely on fax turn to fax servers to provide top-notch security and privacy of fax documents. Faxing, by its nature, is reasonably secure (the point-to-point transmission of a fax over a secure PSTN) and is highly resistant to tampering, interception, viruses, or malware. In highly regulated industries, fax continues to be the main – and sometimes only – acceptable, secure communication method between parties. Specific security features to look for in a fax server are plenty. While some of the security measure may seem obvious, you may not have thought of these: · Look for a faxing solution that allows multiple servers on the same network to communicate directly with each other through least-cost routing to eliminate telephony charges. This will allow for high speed encrypted faxing between network fax servers and will bypass phone lines or dedicated FoIP connections. · A fax solution should be able to encrypt fax images that reside in the images folder/fax database – this protects images “at rest” from intrusions and hackers alike. · Customizable outbound dialing rules can gain precise control of outbound faxing by specifying rules and restrictions over how faxes are sent. · Make sure that a fax server has secure SMTP options for support for off-premises email solutions and provides authenticated, secure, encrypted connections (TLS and SSL). · Many fax servers offer other forms of delivery, which increase the security of transmission, such as secure email, certified delivery, and encrypted PDF delivery. · Tip: Automating paper-intensive delivery processes to eliminate paper handling and reduce opportunities for unauthorized viewing of fax content. Organizations can also eliminate inefficient manual routing that could breach security and privacy guidelines. Other security options are available for making sure the content that is being sent is approved for transmission. Many organizations have strict regulations regarding the type of content that can be transmitted. A fax server should provide the ability to require approvals prior to sending–someone who reviews the electronic document and provides approval prior to transmission. This approval system can be in place for any type of content: contracts, RFP/RFQs, invoices, legal notifications, etc. and is designed to be an internal fail-safe for organizations trading confidential or sensitive content. Regardless of the vendor you choose, be sure to investigate their security processes and review any documentation that the fax server provider has produced. Do they have a whitepaper on their security features? Knowing what to look for is the first step – recognizing it in the fax server provider is now in your hands! Look for the next article in the series, Choosing the right fax server: Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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