Business Network

Secure Information Exchange – Forgotten in your Digital Transformation Strategy?

secure information exchange

Regardless of the widget your organization makes or service it provides, at the very core of every organization is the information that fuels its decisions and ultimately, its success. And that information exchange between an ecosystem of connected customers, suppliers, and business partners must be secure With information as the currency of the digital economy, organizations don’t succeed just based on size, scale, access to resources, or geographic presence—it’s the degree to which they can take advantage of information to innovate and grow. It’s critical that organizations connect business processes across their ecosystem, and secure the information flows that support those processes. Not only is this essential for business continuity, it’s a must for efficiency and productivity in a hyper-competitive digital economy. As more and more organizations adopt a digital transformation strategy, a key component to remember is the transformation of how information is securely exchanged. Digitization must include tools for secure information exchange that support operational gains while improving agility, employee productivity, and higher levels of compliance to reduce risk. While many organizations have sophisticated systems in place to exchange raw data, large files, and many forms of content, there is one technology that continues to persist in every corner of the world: fax. Despite being a 150+ year old technology (yes, it’s true!), faxing has remained a steadfast communication method that provides a direct and secure path for exchanging information. Organizations which do not have a digital transformation strategy that includes a secure information exchange component stand the risk of inefficiency, higher costs, slower gains and lower productivity, as well as security and compliance risks. As an integral part of secure information exchange solutions, electronic fax servers and services are designed to integrate with back-end systems to facilitate the secure exchange of content to and from those applications. Some considerations when choosing an electronic fax solution include determining the needs of the business, process or workflows and evaluating vendor capabilities that fit your needs. While most electronic fax solutions are alike in their core functionality (sending/receiving from email, centralized fax management, tracking and reporting), be sure to choose a vendor that your organization can truly consider a trusted partner, vested in your success as much as you are. Not all vendors are alike, in both capabilities and vision. Seek vendors with advanced, proven functionality, and those which are able to demonstrate a vision that supports your goals and aligns with your digital transformation journey. Ideally, seek a vendor that has capabilities that include but are broader than secure information exchange solutions:  a vendor that can ultimately help you transform your organization to support a fully integrated Enterprise Information Management (EIM) platform to help you on your journey to digital transformation and create a better way to work. Base your secure information exchange strategy on digital, enterprise-grade fax solutions. Then build a robust communication ecosystem that is integrated and automated to reduce risk, enable compliance, and accelerated time to revenue. Whether you choose an on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid model, secure information exchange can transform your business.

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Get Started on the Path to B2B Integration Maturity Now

B2B integration maturuty

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

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Watch out Legal Industry – OpenText Fax Solutions is Coming to ILTACON 2016

legal industry fax solutions

Like Mark Twain, the death of fax has been greatly exaggerated – especially for legal industry fax solutions. Legal firms throughout the world are using fax daily to send and receive confidential documents with clients, other attorneys and the courts. However, relying on traditional fax machines is inefficient, expensive and lacks the security required of modern legal communications. The legal industries – both law firms and in-house counsel – need a cost-effective and secure means that enables them to deploy the fax communication they require and increase the efficiency and productivity of their staff. Electronic and cloud-based fax solutions provide a range of features to law firms that extend the potential of their fax capabilities. The importance of fax within the worldwide legal industries is easy to understate. Yet, it still has a legal stature absent from email. When litigators have an affidavit signature to get back for last minute filing, they fax it. When lawyers need a client signature on a document before close of play, they fax it. Many courts still prefer – and sometimes require – fax to other forms of communication. Some jurisdictions allow ‘fax filing’ to ensure deadlines are met before paper-based documents are delivered. As unbelievable as it may sound, it is still not uncommon for insurance companies and banks to require fax as they limit email usage within their staff. In many rural areas of developed countries, as well as emerging nations, courts lack the technical infrastructure to adopt sophisticated digital communication solutions, and fax – a technology more than 150 years old– continues to thrive. In all of these instances, lawyers will tell you they use fax simply just because it ‘works’. The shortcomings of traditional fax machines, however, are well understood. The process of going to a machine and waiting while a fax is sent is inefficient and makes lawyers and paralegals less productive. Although a fax is secure while being transmitted, it is vulnerable when it is printed at the receiving end or simply left on the fax machine to send. It offers little of the reporting and auditing needed to ensure regulatory compliance or proof of delivery. The cost of dedicated analog phone lines alone makes traditional fax expensive. As importantly, a traditional fax machine is a standalone communication device: it provides no integration with your other communications solutions or back-end systems, such as document management, e-discovery, billing and accounting. In fact, it can provide an unwanted challenge for firms transitioning to a fully IP telephony and computing environment. The introduction of electronic fax solutions – such as OpenText™ RightFax – does more than eliminate the shortcomings of traditional fax. It allows law firms to integrate and customize faxing capabilities into wider e-discovery, document management and business workflows. For practices and firms that want to eliminate on-premises infrastructure and leverage cloud technology, cloud-based fax services – such as OpenText™ Fax2Mail – provide a secure, cost-effective approach to managing fax traffic. OpenText™ Enterprise Fax Solutions – RightFax and Fax2Mail – will be joining our  OpenText™ eDOCS and OpenText™ Recommind friends at ILTACON 2016. Join us there to see how secure information exchange protects content and reduces risk.

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

B2B integration

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

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

marginal gains

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

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Getting Ahead on the B2B Integration Maturity Path – Pt 6

Utilties

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

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What’s Average B2B Integration Maturity? – Pt 5

B2B integration

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

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First Steps in B2B Maturity – Pt 4

B2B Maturity

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

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How B2B Integration Increases Supply Chain Resilience

supply chain resilience

Managing disruption is a constant challenge across today’s global supply chains and one of my presentations at our Enterprise World 2016 conference discussed some of the ways in which B2B integration can help improve the resilience of today’s supply chain operations. Let me step back for a few moments and remind you of why managing disruption across today’s supply chains has become such a high priority for many businesses around the world. In 2011, global supply chains were severely impacted by two major natural disasters, the earthquake in Japan and the floods in Thailand. These events triggered a number of supply chain improvement initiatives around the world which included both operational and information management improvements. Supply chain disruptions over the past five years have brought an element of nervousness to many companies and regulatory bodies have been looking more closely at how companies recover from disasters and what plans they have put in place to try and minimize future supply chain disruptions. Ten years ago companies were focused on disaster recovery however today things have moved on and companies are more interested in how they keep their businesses running during a period of disruption. This process is referred to as Business Continuity Management and this has been one of the fastest growing areas, in terms of supply chain related roles, that companies have been trying to fill in recent years. Business continuity management essentially provides an ability to recover from any given event and this area is certainly becoming important from a competitive differentiation point of view. The person fulfilling this role could also be referred to as the ‘Master of Disaster’, a single point person within a company that employees can go to during a period of disruption and who would be responsible for managing disruption related business processes. As part of business continuity management improvements, companies, especially manufacturers, implemented a number of operational based improvements to their global supply chain operations. For example near shoring production operations, moving production to new markets unaffected by natural disasters, implementing dual sourcing strategies and establishing ‘global plant floors’ so that if production was impacted in one country then production could be ramped up quickly at another location to compensate. You can find more information on these operational related initiatives in an earlier blog. From a B2B and information management point of view, companies have restructured their ICT environments to make them more resilient to future supply chain disruptions. Since 2011, OpenText has seen interest from Japanese customers keen to move away from their home grown software based B2B environments hosted in Japanese data centers to cloud based environments, with information being held in data centers located around the world. For example, a number of Japanese consumer electronic manufacturers have taken the opportunity to not only move their B2B operations to the cloud, but to consolidate numerous legacy B2B networks onto OpenText™ B2B Managed Services platform as well. In addition to moving to the cloud, companies have understandably improved their data backup and recovery processes, improved supplier contact and collaboration processes and looked at ways to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility. In essence, companies have really focused on three key areas relating to improving information management, namely improving flexibility of their B2B infrastructures, improving visibility and improving collaboration. Despite the best efforts of many Japanese manufacturers to improve the resilience of their supply chain operations, a 7.3 earthquake hit southern Japan on 16th April 2016 and this had a major impact on global supply chains. For example Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Bridgestone, Sony and Renesas had to idle their plants to evaluate damage. In addition, the earthquake damaged two Aisin Seiki factories which make body components and die-cast engine parts for Nissan. Further afield, due to restricted parts supply from Japan, Nissan’s UK plant had to implement non-production days and in North America, GM had to idle plants two weeks after the earthquake took place. So this is a good example of how an earthquake can impact manufacturing operations and how disruption ripples around global supply chain infrastructures. It also demonstrates that despite best efforts, further improvements can be made to supply chain disruption management procedures. OpenText has a broad range of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions and based on technology that OpenText deployed in its Election Tracker to monitor public sentiment to the candidates in the US Presidential Elections, I wanted to see if the same technology could be used to help provide improved management of supply chain disruption situations. In summary, the scenario and solution I am now going to discuss in the remainder of this blog, a Disruption Management Solution (DMS), offers a highly graphical and intuitive method for reviewing major supply chain disruptions, identifying impacted suppliers and initiating orders with alternative suppliers where required. I will stress that the following is all conceptual in nature, but the underlying technology to access and present information exists within OpenText’s EIM portfolio of solutions today. In the first screenshot shown below, The DMS dashboard home page consists of two main areas, firstly a window on the left providing a direct feed from recognized and trustworthy news sources highlighting three types of disruption, namely earthquakes, tsunamis and social unrest situations. OpenText™ InfoFusion is used to search natural disaster related websites (news feeds and government agencies) and this information is aggregated and then displayed in the corresponding tab for review. The right hand window is a map plug in, which would be overlaid with various pieces of information from a manufacturer’s supply chain operations. Screen 1 – Impact of Earthquake on Global Plant Locations The DMS, via the InfoFusion connected panel on the left, has detected a significant 6.9 earthquake and the longitude and latitude coordinates of the earthquake are compared with all global plant locations. The plant locations are geo-tagged and highlighted by way of the red pins which are overlaid across the map. The nearest plant to the detected earthquake is located in Bangkok, Thailand. Clicking on the white ‘Thailand’ box shown on the map will take you to screen 2 below. This part of the DMS shows a closer view of the selected disruption location, in this case Bangkok. InfoFusion has populated the two windows to the bottom left, identifying the location, disruption type and scale. The panel to the top right outlines the availability of the local transport infrastructure, namely airports, road infrastructure, rail networks and sea ports. InfoFusion would be used to scour relevant government information services to determine the health of these transportation infrastructures and could supplement this information by reviewing relevant news feeds or social media sites such as Twitter. Once the ‘state’ of each transportation network has been identified then it is graphically displayed via OpenText™ Big Data Analytics (BDA) solution. InfoFusion would poll these news sources at a predetermined frequency and the analytics based graphics panel would be updated accordingly. In a similar way InfoFusion would scour the 3PL news sources and provider websites for information on the health of their service and a simple traffic light system is colour coded accordingly to denote the condition of their logistics infrastructure. In this example, UPS would be the only unaffected 3PL provider. Screen 2 – Identification of Impacted Suppliers The map has automatically zoomed into the disrupted area. The contact information for every supplier is held within OpenText™ Active Community, this includes office or plant location addresses. This contact information can be exported, via an API, as an XML file from Active Community at a predetermined frequency, but at a minimum of once a day to ensure that any newly onboarded trading partners can be accounted for. The adjustable scroll bar underneath the map allows the user to determine which suppliers have potentially been impacted near to the disruption zone. The scroll bar allows the user to select different distances from the epi-centre of the disruption, in this case a 6.9 earthquake. The selected 25 mile radius from the epicentre of the earthquake is then cross referenced against all the supplier locations exported from Active Community. Where there is a match a geo-tagged red pin has been overlaid across the map. In this case we have seven impacted suppliers. We can now select one of the seven highlighted suppliers and review which orders are likely to be impacted, the user selects the red impacted orders button and they are then taken to screen 3. Screen 3 – Identification of Alternate Suppliers The orders from the selected supplier chosen in screen 2 are listed below the map and the associated order information would be extracted from OpenText™ Active Orders. There are seven impacted orders that will need to be addressed, ie alternative parts suppliers will need to be identified quickly. The user would select one order from the list and then select the alternate supplier button where five alternative suppliers are listed (and highlighted as green geo-tagged green pins on the map). The user would then review the list of alternate suppliers and depending on chosen criteria, for example fastest delivery time, can then select the most appropriate supplier to fulfill the order requirement for the Bangkok plant location. In terms of the benefits that this executive dashboard could provide: Earlier warning of the likely impact of part shortages across a supply chain Faster understanding of the potential impact of supply chain disruptions across both internal and external supply chain operations, e.g the condition of logistics networks Faster decision making and contingency plans to be executed so for example alternative suppliers  can be identified quickly so as to minimize plant downtime Ultimately aim to minimize supply chain disruptions and avoid production downtime I have only provided a high level overview of the DMS concept in this blog post, learn more about B2B integration and how it provides increased levels of flexibility, visibility and collaboration.

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The B2B Integration Maturity Landscape – Pt 3

B2B Integration Maturity

In partnership with OpenText, SCM World conducted a survey of 115 companies from all over the world. The goal was to guide supply chain, operations and customer service executives on the journey to integrating and automating B2B resources, specifically people, technology and processes. The full report, available here, lays out a path to maturity., while the excerpt below features the section of the report which summarizes the current B2B integration maturity landscape. SCM World’s B2B integration maturity survey yielded 115 responses from companies representing the automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), hi-tech, industrial and life sciences industries, among others.  (More on industry results in my next blog post). The percentage of responses by maturity level represents a relatively normal distribution, centered on an overall average maturity of 2.8, as shown in Figure 5 below. If you missed my post on the definitions of the steps – read it here. The largest group of respondents falls in the Analytical (step 3) category on the B2B integration path. Here, demand and supply use cases come together, beginning the multi-tier integration found in progressive steps. The supply chain data available is more than just simple information, and can be analysed more extensively to generate new business insight. Few companies have separated themselves from their peers at the lead along the B2B integration path. 16% of responding companies achieved an overall score greater than 3.4; only 2% scored at or above 4.0. What separates these companies is their Relational (step 4) approach to B2B integration. Here, the focus shifts towards a real-time approach that keeps pace with what is driving the business. Common toolsets and processes are leveraged to drive collaboration upstream and downstream across a growing network of suppliers and customers. Also notable is the move toward partnerships in managing B2B integration operations. CAPABILITY ADVANCEMENT REQUIRES PARTNERSHIPS FOCUSED ON DEVELOPING COMPETENCIES Outsourcing at least part of your B2B integration operations accelerates the expansion of partner networks, enabling collaborative relationships with other leading companies that drive advancement of all elements in parallel. Of the Relational (step 4) companies, 63% of operations are either fully outsourced (25%) or utilise a hybrid of external and internal resources (38%), leaving less than 38% to be run solely with internal staff. The most consistently present qualities across all of the leaders on the path show that: B2B integration is justified by real-time collaboration with trading partners Cross-functional B2B expertise is more evident within IT and/or the line of business Supply chain data is collected and organised via a collaborative network reaching to at least direct customers and suppliers Fully integrated processes exist with customers and/or suppliers More than 70% of all B2B transactions are processed digitally Previous posts in this series worth a read: 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

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A Modern Approach to an Essential Solution: Which Fax Deployment Model is Best for you?

Enterprise fax solutions

Are you ready to upgrade your current fax solution to not just a new but a better way to send, receive and manage faxes? Do you have workflows that are fax-dependent and realize it’s time to make those workflows as efficient and cost-effective as possible? Whether you are eliminating fax machines (finally!) or upgrading to an enterprise fax solution, understanding your deployment options is an important step. Many organizations are beginning to choose IT solutions based on preferred method of deployment. Some organizations want all IT systems to reside in-house or “on-premises.” Others want to leverage the cloud as much as possible to outsource all (or as many as possible) IT activities. An increasingly popular alternative is hybrid solutions, in which part of a software system resides on-premises, but some components are outsourced for efficiency. Enterprise fax solutions are available as on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployment options. But which one is best for your organization? Below are some of the decision factors and business needs that drive each of the deployment models: On-Premises Fax Servers: A fax server is deployed in-house and typically requires the most IT management and resources. Strengths of on-premises deployments include: you completely own and control the environment, data storage and location of the data; typically highly configurable and customizable with strong integration options; includes options for high availability and disaster recovery. On-premises fax server solutions are best when: You have complex integration or security requirements You seek to avoid fax volume/user charges You want to leverage economies of scale You require full control over data storage & ownership You wish to harness your own IT bench strength You are not looking to outsource Cloud Fax Services:  Cloud fax services are part of a pure service deployment model, with no fax software, hardware or telephony required to reside at your site. Faxes are sent and received via email. Strengths of cloud deployments include: fastest and easiest deployment, limited resources required, pay only for what you use, Web Services APIs typically available for integrations, unlimited and instantly scalable capacity, no busy signals, built-in redundancy and automatic failover for faxing. Cloud-based fax solutions are best when: You need to deploy rapidly You seek fast and flexible scalability You want multi-site redundancy for failover and disaster recovery You need or want to outsource fax telephony You have little or over-subscribed IT bench strength You are looking for uptime and telephony SLAs You have a corporate mandate to outsource or “move to the cloud” Hybrid Fax Solutions: In hybrid fax deployments, the fax server software resides at your site (on-premises) and fax transmission is provided as a service (in the cloud). The key strength of hybrid solutions is that the service portion typically includes eliminating the connection of the fax server to the telephone network, often the most complex and confusing part of deploying fax solutions, which in turn removes this responsibility from your IT and telecommunications staff. Other strengths include: all the benefits of an on-premises fax server (ownership, data storage and location, integration capabilities, etc) with the ability to leverage the strength of cloud faxing (flexibility, scalability, no busy signals, built-in disaster recovery and automatic failover for fax transmissions). Hybrid fax solutions are best when: You have complex integration or security requirements You require full control over data storage and ownership You seek fast and flexible scalability You need or want to outsource fax telephony You are looking for telephony SLAs You outsource as it makes sense Still not sure which fax solution deployment model is best for you? OpenText can help.With the best on-premises, cloud and hybrid options in the industry, OpenText has a solution for you.  Learn more.

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OpenText RightFax Certified With Swisscom VoIP Gate

Rightfax

The convergence of data and communications networks via the Internet Protocol (IP) is occurring at an ever-increasing pace. With many government mandates in place to replace analog phone lines with IP telephony, organizations are looking to consolidate equipment and streamline management and administration overhead. The objectives behind this consolidation are simple: reduce IT infrastructure costs and manage all data and communication applications more efficiently. As communication technology is quickly standardizing on IP, there is a natural overlap between those applications that rely on a traditional circuit-switched communications backbone and the evolving IP-based environments. The challenge for organizations is to fully understand how network applications distributed over an enterprise, such as RightFax, can take advantage of newer IP-based approaches to data communications. OpenText™ RightFax Certified by Swisscom using VoIP Gate Swisscom, along with technology partner Inter-Ibex, have eliminated the guesswork of interoperability between OpenText RightFax and Swisscom VoIP Gate by certifying the two solutions together. The powerful combination of Swisscom IP communications and RightFax provides a seamless solution for Fax over IP (FoIP). It ensures that the telephony features operate smoothly during the migration from TDM to SIP technology. Certifications are a crucial aspect of technology and perform a necessary gatekeeping function to ensure that disparate technologies are able to interact with crucial software and applications. Benefits of Swisscom VoIP Gate and RightFax Organizations that are adopting an IP telephony environment may further streamline their messaging infrastructure and enhance the benefits of their existing RightFax fax server by enabling it to support FoIP. COST SAVINGS Future proof both IP communications and FoIP faxing with a certified solution Deploy Swisscom as a central communication system and uniform network infrastructure for voice, data, video, UC – and fax Reduce Total Cost of Ownership savings due to network consolidation Lower energy costs using software-enabled FoIP in virtual environments Support enterprise server virtualization initiatives with 100% software solutions EFFICIENCY Bolster efficiencies associated with managing consolidated network equipment that supports VoIP and FoIP Optimum security, thanks to trusted SIP trunking on Swisscom’s  MPLS-capable IP network (LAN-I) FLEXIBILITY Connection of a central, IP-based communication system to the public telephone network that is FoIP-enabled Scale RightFax with additional channels, capacity, and integrations to meet evolving document delivery needs INTEROPERABILITY & COMPATIBILITY Tested and certified by Swisscom Push consistent fax solution throughout the entire network, including remote locations on Swisscom’s IP platform Strengthen investments made on Swisscom IP equipment that interoperate with the fax server Minimize downtime About RightFax: When it comes to implementing FoIP, market leading RightFax fax server is the proven choice for providing flexible, scalable, and cost-effective FoIP solutions. Known for integrations, reliability, and manageability, OpenText RightFax provides built-in FoIP options, making it easy to deploy, set up, and manage FoIP implementations. Organizations leveraging Swisscom to consolidate resources, reduce costs and reap the other benefits of using their IP infrastructure for faxing will benefit from scalability and flexibility of RightFax as their document delivery engine. About Swisscom: VoIP Gate connects an IP-based communication system (like an IP-PBX or UC server) to the public telephone network. For the connection signaling, VoIP Gate (Voice over IP) uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Thanks to SIP, VoIP Gate can set up and remove dedicated links in Swisscom’s IP network. Due to the consolidated communication network for voice and data, the planning, implementation and subsequent operation become simpler and less expensive. This solution corresponds to state of-the art technology and satisfies the highest standards concerning security and reliability. About Inter-Ibex: a Swiss based IT consulting firm, active on Fax solutions for more than 15 years. The integration of RightFax solution into the customers’ VOIP infrastructure for a better cost handling and seamless integration of the FOIP solutions in the existing infrastructure is one of our main activities.

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Meet The OpenText Experts: Marco de Vries

Today in Meet the Experts, I speak with Marco de Vries. Marco is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for OpenText™ Business Network. What excites you most about the industry right now? The Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a broad term and concept, but it will have a profound impact on the supply chain, and other business processes. Data movement, integration and analytics are the key to success. There are many IoT use cases that OpenText customers already have a jump start on, because we have the platform required to enable these customer use cases. What does the digital world mean to you? Business as usual isn’t an option. Information is now the currency of the digital economy. Organizations must capture, integrate, share and collaborate with more information than ever before. It means building generative ecosystems and communities of interest. The only way to get there is with a complete digital platform like the OpenText digital platform. Are you ready for Enterprise World, Nashville and why? Is Nashville ready for us… that is the question! Yes, I am ready with a plan for how we are adding more value for our B2B and fax customers than ever before. Why is this going to be the best Enterprise World yet? It’s all about the customer at Enterprise World. For our fax customers, we have 15 focused sessions led by our product and support experts. Add another 28 sessions on B2B for a total of 43 total breakouts for Business Network. This year, Enterprise World is about offering value for all OpenText customers. What will customers learn about your product area at the event? Customers will see our product roadmaps, get the top 5 best practices for their products, tips and tricks on how to optimize their solutions, and much more. What will you be showcasing/ demonstrating? We’re especially excited to demonstrate Trading Grid Analytics, the new solution that embeds OpenText™Analytics for business intelligence with Trading Grid, the leading platform for B2B integration. What are the must see sessions on your product area? • B2B-105 From Zero to Hero: How MillerCoors Transformed Its Supply Chain • B2B-106 Adopting the Power of ‘Marginal Gains’ for Improved B2B Integration • Fax-205 Meet the Total RightFax Solution • Fax-208 RightFax Customer Panel: Peer Best Practice Sharing And, finally, what is your favorite country singer/ song? I’d have to Google a guess. Nothing wrong with country, but it’s not my style. Wait, does Taylor Swift count? Most of her songs are pretty good – but I don’t think they qualify as country. Still not signed up for OpenText Enterprise World? Here is your chance to register!

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Does B2B Integration Have Tangible Business Benefits? Pt 2

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The results, available in this blog, lay out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. For many organizations, B2B integration is just a means of doing business, a requirement to work with certain suppliers or customers. The survey revealed that companies who have achieved some level of B2B integration maturity have justified their B2B integration investments because it encourages collaborative business growth among partners. (Page 23 of the report) More importantly, the survey showed that the viewpoint of these companies was correct. Those companies who had mature B2B integration programs experienced tangible business benefits over those who did not. Here is an excerpt from the report: Initially, business need for B2B integration is understood, but often companies have yet to see sizeable improvements in business performance. For example, at the beginning of the B2B integration path: 61% have monthly inventory turns of one, or less 66% of companies at the lowest step have 61 days of sales outstanding (DSO), or more 33% are shipping outside of standard process by expediting at least 10% of orders As companies begin their advancement, they are accompanied by metrics improvements, (as shown in the chart below in this blog post). The trajectory of these metrics suggests that performance metrics are positively impacted as B2B integration matures. As companies advance to the analytical (step 3) and relational (step 4) steps on the B2B integration path, key improvements drawn from the study include: 72% of respondents experience savings of at least 20%, as compared to the costs of manual transactions More efficient order management, with 54% of companies expediting 5% of orders, or less Faster inventory turns, with 68% of companies achieving at least two inventory turns per month Better cash management, as 78% of companies at the highest step have 60 days of sales outstanding, or fewer Improvements in stock-out rate and perfect order percentage are also beneficial for advancing companies, as these metrics are reflective of supply chain agility and efficiency. This data coincides with decreased expediting costs, but more importantly creates revenue and profit opportunities by minimizing lost sales and optimizing product flow throughout the value chain. Where metrics have the potential to prove significant value to the business is in calculative metrics such as cash conversion cycle (CCC). The CCC is a conventional metric that, according to Investopedia, “indicates how efficiently management is using short-term assets (e.g. inventory) and liabilities to generate cash”. This is an especially important measure in volatile market conditions, as organizations are under intense pressure to maintain healthy balance sheets and strong cash flows. Ideally, a company’s CCC is as low as possible, with exceptional companies operating at a negative value, by effectively leveraging their supply chains to convert sales to cash prior to the actual transaction. Historically, only a few supply chain stalwarts have sustained a long-term negative CCC – among them Dell, Apple and Amazon. Using SCM World study data, the CCC is calculated for each step of the B2B integration path, based on the range of company responses. The results are quite clear: with each progressive step on the B2B integration path, there is an associated 2-3x improvement in cash conversion cycle. If you missed Part 1 of this series, read 5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity.

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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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5 Stages of B2B Integration Maturity – Pt 1

B2B integration maturity

OpenText recently sponsored a survey on B2B integration maturity which was conducted by SCM World. We were interested in learning about what constituted B2B integration maturity and what impact that might have on a business. The research paper, available here, lays out a path to maturity based on answers to the survey from 115 participants from all over the globe. A section of the paper that describes the five stages or steps is provided here. What is the B2B integration maturity path? Based on the results of this research, the B2B integration path framework was developed to trace progressive advancement of B2B integration maturity in organizations across key industries. The B2B integration path framework represents a five step journey for advancing B2B integration maturity by using SCM World study data to identify improvements that must be made to increase maturity in the elements of structure and people (people), tools and technology (technology), and process (process). In addition to enabling you to determine your organization’s current level of B2B integration maturity, the framework also allows you to compare your organization’s level of B2B integration maturity versus that of your peers, across industries and against the broader business community. Routes to maturity on the B2B integration path are varied. True progress is marked by the intersections created with simultaneous movement along the three elemental paths of people, technology and process. The five steps on the B2B integration path are defined as follows: Transactional. Tactical execution of siloed, reactive processes on manual technology Informative. Key trading partners engage in foundational business processes, with limited digital visibility Analytical. Collaborative insight through the aggregation and analysis of connected digital demand and supply data Relational. Responsive network, with integration of most trading partners across multi-tier demand and supply networks Generative. Profitable growth cycles driven by end-to-end digital integration throughout the value chain In my next post, I’ll talk about what the research says about the benefits of moving along the B2B integration path.

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How to Identify the Return on Investment of Big Data (Infographic)

If you are a CIO, you know what goes on at a board of directors meeting. This is not the place to be confused when your CEO asks you a simple, commonly asked question, which requires a simple, accurate answer: “What is the ROI of Big Data costs?” Let’s be honest, Big Data is a big, painful issue. It is often recommended to use just a little information in your dashboard if you want to be heard. But at the same time, you want this information to be accurate, right? That’s when you are happy that your data is big. Why is data size so important? Data scientists, for instance, are always asking for big data because they know how predictive analysis can easily be inaccurate if there isn’t enough data on which to base your predictions. We all know this when it comes to the weather forecast – it is the same when it comes to risk anticipation or sales opportunities identification. What’s really new is how easily any software can access big data. If 90% of the world’s data today has been created in the last 2 years alone, what can we expect in the near future? For starters, the Internet of Things is anticipated to hugely increase the volumes of data businesses will have to cope with. ROI is all about results. Big data is here to stay and bigger data is coming, so the best we can do is to make it worth the trouble. “Cloud is the new electricity,” according to the latest IT Industry Outlook published by CompTIA. But I don’t have good news for you, if you feel comfortable just planning to move your data to the cloud. This is just the beginning. Experts often say that big data doesn’t have much value when simply stored; your spending on big data projects should be driven by business goals. So it’s not a surprise that there is increased interest in gaining insights from big data and making data-based decisions. In fact, advanced analytics and self-service reporting is what you should be planning for your big data. I’ll briefly tell you why: You need to support democratization of data integration and data preparation in the cloud You should enable software for self-service advanced and predictive analytics Big data insights and reporting should be put where they’re needed Why support democratization of data integration and data preparation in the cloud Big data analytics, recruiting talent and user experience top the CIO agenda for 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal; but these gaps will hardly be solved in time, because of the shortage of data-savvy people. Actually, according to analysts, there is an anticipated 100,000+ analytic talent shortage of people through to 2020. So, meanwhile CIOs find solutions to their own talent gaps; new software and cloud services appear in the market to enable business users to get the business insights and advance ROI of big data. Hopefully, someday, a data scientist can provide those insights but platforms like OpenText™ Big Data Analytics includes easy-to-use, drag-and-drop features to load and integrate different data sources from the front end or the back end, in the cloud. Now, I say hopefully because requirements for data scientists are no longer the same. Knowledge of coding is often not required. According to Robert J. Lake, what he requires from data scientists at Cisco is to know how to make data-driven decisions – that’s why he leaves data scientists to play with any self-service analytics tool that may help them to reach that goal. Data scientists spend around 80% of their time preparing data, rather than actually getting insights from it – so interest in self-service data preparation is growing. Leaving the data cleansing to data scientists may be a good idea for some of their colleages, but actually it is not a good idea in terms of agility and accuracy. That’s the reason why cloud solutions like Salesforce are appreciated, because it leaves sales people time to collaborate – adding, editing or removing information that will give a more precise view of their prospects, one that only they are able to identify with such precision. What if you could expect the same from a Supply Chain Management or Electronic Health Record, where data audits depends on multiple worldwide data sources, with distinct processes and with no dependency on data experts at all? In fact, 95% of organizations want end users to be able to manage and prepare their own data, according to noted market analyst Howard Dresner. Analysts predict that the next big market disruption is self-service data preparation, so expect to hear more about it in the near future. Why you should enable self-service advanced and predictive analytics Very small businesses may find desktop tools like Excel good enough for their data analysis, but after digital disruption these tools have become inadequate even for small firms. The need for powerful analytic tools is even greater for larger companies from data-intensive industries such as telecommunications, healthcare, or government. The columnar database has been proposed as the solution, as it is much speedier than relational databases when querying hundreds of millions or billions of rows. Speed of a cloud service is dependent on the volume of data as well as the hardware itself. Measuring the speed of this emerging technology is not easy but even a whole NoSQL movement is advising that relational databases are not the best future option. Companies have been able to identify the ROI of big data using predictive analytics to anticipate risk or forecast opportunities for years. For example, banks, mortgage lenders, and credit card companies use credit scoring to predict customers’ profitability. They have been doing this even when complex algorithms require data scientists, hard-to-find expertise, not just to build but to keep them running. That limits their spread through an organization. That’s why OpenText™ Big Data Analytics in the Cloud includes ad-hoc and pre-built algorithms like: Profile: If you are able to visualize a Profile of a specific segment of your citizens, customers or patients and then personalize a campaign based on the differentiation values of this segment, why would the ROI of the campaign not be attributed to the big data that previously stored it? Forecasting: If the cloud application is able to identify cross-selling opportunities and a series of campaigns are launched, the ROI of those campaigns could be attributed to the big data that you previously secured Decision Tree: You should be able to measure the ROI of a new process based on customer risk identification during the next fiscal year and attribute it to big data that you previously stored in the cloud Association Rules: You can report the ROI of a new recruitment requirement based on an analysis of job abandonment information and attribute it to big data that you had previously enabled as a self-service solution The greater the number of stars shown on the Forecast screenshot above, the stronger the evidence for non-randomness. This is actually when you are grateful for having so much information and having it so clean! Customer analytics for sales and marketing provide some of the classic use cases. Looking at the patterns from terabytes of information on past transactions can help organizations identify the reasons behind customer churn, the ideal next offer to make to a prospect, detect fraud, or target existing customers for cross-selling and up-selling. Put Big Data insights and reporting where they’re needed Embedded visualizations and self-service reporting are key to allow the benefits of data-driven decisions into more departments, because it doesn’t require expert intervention. Instead, non-technical users can spontaneously “crunch the numbers” on business issues as they come up. Today 74% of marketers can’t measure and report on the contribution of their programs to the business according to VisionEdge Marketing. Imagine that you as a CIO have adopted a very strong advanced analytics platform, but the insights are not reaching the right people – that is, in case of a hospital, the doctor or the patient. Let’s say the profile of the patient and drug consumption is available in someone’s computer, but that insight is not reachable by any user who can make the difference when a new action is required. The hospital’s results will never be affected in that case by big data and the ROI potential will not be achieved because the people who need the insights are not getting them, and the hospital will not change with or without big data. This is called invisible analytics. Consider route optimization of a Supply Chain – the classic “traveling salesman problem.” When a sizable chunk of your workforce spends its day driving from location to location (sales force, delivery trucks, maintenance workers), you want to minimize the time, miles, gas, and vehicle wear and tear, while making sure urgent calls are given priority. Moreover, you want to be able to change routes on the fly – and let your remote employees make updates in real-time, rather than forcing them to wait for a dispatcher’s call. Real-time analytics and reporting should be able to put those insights literally in their hands, via tablets, phones, or smart watches, giving them the power to anticipate or adjust their routes. OpenText™ Information Hub offers these capabilities as a powerful ad-hoc and built-in reporting tool that enables any user to personalize how their company wants information and the data visualization to be displayed. You should always ensure that the security and scalable capabilities of the tool you need is carefully selected, because in such cases you will be dealing not only with billions of rows, but also maybe millions of end users. As mentioned at the start of this blog, user experience is also at the top of the CIO’s agenda. True personalization that ensures the best user experience requires technology that can be fully branded and customized. The goal should be to adapt data visualizations to the same look and feel as the application to provide a seamless user experience. UPS gathers information at every possible moment and stores over 16 petabytes of data. They make more than 16 million shipments to over 8.8 million customers globally, receive on average 39.5 million tracking requests from customers per day, employ 399.000 people in 220 different countries. They spend $1 billion a year on big data but their revenue in 2012 was $ 54.1 billion. Identification of the ROI of big data is dependent on the democratization of the business insights coming from advanced and predictive analytics of that information. Nobody said it is simple but it can lower operating costs and boost profits, which every business users identifies as ROI. Moreover when line-of-business users rather than technology users are driving the analysis, and the right people are getting the right insight when they need it, improved future actions should feed the wheel of big data with the bigger data that is coming. And sure you want it to come to the right environment, right? Download the Internet of Things and Business Intelligence by Dresner The Internet of Things and Business Intelligence from Dresner Advisory Services is a 70-page research that provides a wealth of information and analysis, offering value to consumers and producers of business intelligence technology and services. The business intelligence vendor ratings include scores for location intelligence, end-user data preparation, cloud BI, and advanced and predictive analytics–all key capabilities for business intelligence in an IoT context. Download here.

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Building a Vendor Compliance Program That Improves Relationships – Seminar Series

vendor compliance

I wrote recently about how retailers can improve vendor compliance through deduction management. The premise is that by quickly capturing compliance violations and communicating them to vendors, retailers can prevent recurring violations that occur before the vendor is notified by paper-based processes. Deduction management solutions allow retailers to automate the chargeback or deduction process. Because the process is automated, managed, and clearly documented, most retailers implementing our solution process chargebacks faster. Would you believe that this doesn’t harm vendor relationships – it actually makes them better? That is what Stage Stores experienced when they implemented OpenText™ Active Intelligence for deduction management. How is that possible? This question that will be answered in an upcoming seminar series sponsored by OpenText, taking place in New York, Chicago and Seattle in June. Ken Lettre, Vice President of Vendor Compliance and Relations, will be joining us from Stage Stores to share how OpenText Active Intelligence helped Stage Stores increase accuracy, improve vendor response time from three months to three days and greatly improved the relationship between vendor and retailer. You can learn more and sign up to attend one of these June seminars today.

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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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Next Generation OpenText Content Suite is Here…You Won’t Look at ECM the Same Way Again

Content Server

Re-thinking ECM Drives Personal and Process Productivity as well as Control It’s happened. Last month saw the release of major upgrades to the OpenText product line, including an incredible new version of OpenText™ Content Suite. Together they represent the most ambitious, extensive launch in OpenText history. Nothing has even come close to this in my eight years with the company and I have to say, it’s a pretty exciting milestone! Of course, I’m most excited about the powerful new edition of Content Suite. Its most important innovations — huge advances in functionality and usability — are inspired by a whole new way of thinking about ECM, its role in the enterprise, and the way knowledge workers interact with, and use information. What’s led to this step change? Take a look around your own office and the answers become clear. People Processes Governance The demographic make-up of our co-workers is tilting toward the digital-native generation, a cohort that’s come of age with simple, instant access to the information they want, whenever and wherever they want it. And they expect to work the same way; they’re mobile, agile, and instantly responsive. As you’ve probably experienced, most organizations are poorly equipped to meet this new approach to sharing, collaborating, and innovating. Used to be, phone calls, faxes, and eventually email provided 99% of the information flow you needed to do your job. Not any more. Digital information is flooding the enterprise in exploding volumes, from ever-diversifying sources. Data generated by everything from social media to the supply chain constitutes an organization’s most valuable asset, if they can use it properly. There’s a critical need to seamlessly integrate, aggregate, and correlate this information to extract full value from it, as well as the people and processes that create it. Unfortunately, working with huge pools of data has a dark side. Digital information’s key strength — mobility— has led to regular data breach headlines. Countless employees put employers at risk every day by transferring intellectual property to unsanctioned, ungoverned apps for easy access. In a world of increasingly complex and far-reaching security, privacy, and compliance requirements, organizations struggle to maintain control over their information with outdated tools, inadequate oversight, and labor-intensive practices.   Content Suite 16 is purpose-built to help organizations solve all these problems. It’s not just a re-launch of our ECM platform, it’s a complete re-think of the purpose and function of ECM within enterprises as they transform to become fully digital. By building on its traditional strengths as guardian, bond, and organizer of information with new usability and integration functionality, Content Suite shifts the focus of ECM toward creating an enterprise-wide information backbone that places people before technology. It can now bridge previously isolated silos and distribute information effortlessly to drive productivity and oversight in three inter-connected areas: Personal Productivity Users want to access, share, and collaborate on business content in the same seamless, simple ways they connect with each other in their private lives. Content Suite 16 creates this environment. With OpenText™ Tempo Box and OpenText™ Core, organizations can finally foster frictionless synch-and-share collaboration on both sides of the firewall in a fully governed ECM environment. Users work the way they want, on their own terms, anytime, anywhere, underpinned by an ECM safety net that manages everything from version control to auditing to application of meta-tags. Content Suite 16 also introduces a new user interface, one that provides a cohesive personal experience tailored to each individual user. Everything related to a subject can be personalized and presented in a simple format based on the user’s role and device. As an example, here’s an insurance industry use case: Through one easy-to-master interface, users can see everything they need to in relation to a claim — account information, completed claim form, feeds from the adjustor in the field, in-line communication from across the company, task lists, and more. All compiled, connected, and shared through Content Suite. Process Productivity In the digital era, we’ve digitized enterprise processes but not done a very good job of connecting them to each other. The information they produce is usually stored in a siloed repository aligned to the process. It’s usually hard to access, difficult to govern, and almost impossible for the business to use effectively. The Extended ECM capabilities of Content Suite eliminate this. They integrate ECM into the lead applications that produce this data (SAP®, Oracle®, Microsoft® and others), connecting silos to aggregate related information and present the full picture of any instance. With ECM fully embedded in the process, governance policies and classification tags can now be automatically applied right at the source. Users are spared from doing the dirty work, yet benefit from the results. Imagine a use case where a user with a decision to make doesn’t even leave the application they’re working in to access the contract, inventory reports, sales figures, and email communication related to a supplier. Think of the increased efficiency, insight, and throughput. It’s all possible now. Control Having all this newly accessible information available to be usedin innovative, far-reaching ways actually creates more risk and inefficiency if proper governance and control isn’t consistently applied at all points. Analysts have always considered information governance to be one of Content Suite’s competitive strengths and Content Suite 16 improves on that. The key is in the ability to integrate governance best practices into both personal and process information flows without impeding productivity. Personal Productivity content — the high-volume, wildly unpredictable result of day-to-day collaboration and creation — is notorious for being high-risk while resisting oversight. Content Suite 16 introduces new capabilities to transparently capture content as it’s created in applications like file synch and share, email, and SharePoint® and automatically apply retention and security policies based on machine learning. Process Productivity data — critical to continuity and records management — can now be automatically classified, tagged, and aggregated behind the scenes as soon as it’s generated. It’s inducted into the enterprise information lifecycle for effortless discovery and use by records managers, legal teams, and LOB leaders. OpenText Content Suite is the Future of ECM Content Suite redefines the role of ECM in the digital enterprise. It creates a seamless cross-enterprise information grid that provides the Personal and Process Productivity gains enterprises need within a framework of Control. Available on premise, as a subscription in the OpenText™ Cloud, or as a managed service, today it stands as the only comprehensive, fully integrated ECM suite in the industry. Take a few minutes to find out more about what we have in store for you in Content Suite 16. Start by erasing your preconceived notions and perceptions of ECM. Then, visualize what transforming to become “digital inside” means to your organization. Chances are, OpenText Content Suite’s innovative new approach to implementing, extending, and using ECM can get you where you want to be.

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