Supply Chain

Establishing a Supply Chain Focused IoT Platform

IoT in the Supply Chain

Over the last few years I have been posting blogs on how the Internet of Things will impact future supply chain operations. More recently I discussed IoT in the context of digital transformation. The term ‘IoT Platform’ has just started to enter the vocabulary of the CIO and I thought I would use this blog to explain how I believe OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions could underpin and support an IoT based platform strategy. Ever since cloud-based solutions started to go mainstream in around 2011, there have been numerous attempts to define cloud-based ‘platforms’. Some platforms offer cloud-based ‘brokerage’ services, others offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). Gartner defined the term ‘integration brokerage’, a term which nicely encapsulates the various B2B solutions that are offered today by OpenText™ Business Network, the world’s largest cloud-based B2B integration platform. With OpenText offering many different cloud-based solutions today, I thought it would be interesting to share my own views on how OpenText EIM solutions could support a new emerging type of cloud platform, the IoT platform. For the purposes of this blog I am going to refer to the term IoT, but of course over the last four years a number of regional derivatives of this term have emerged, and the market seems to be struggling to find the perfect term that is universally accepted: Internet of Things (IoT): this is the most popular term in use today and was originally defined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 as part of his research at the AutoID Center Internet of Everything (IoE): introduced by Cisco in 2013 to reflect the people and process aspects of IoT Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): introduced by GE and other North American industrial companies in 2013, GE Digital was formed to develop the smart industrial environment of the future Industry4.0: introduced in 2013 by industrial companies in Germany such as Bosch and Siemens to reflect the fourth industrial revolution and the need to have a more process centric IoT environment Industrial Value Chain: introduced in 2015 by companies in Japan, looking to develop their own standard for connected devices across industrial applications Internet Plus: introduced in 2015 by Chinese based companies, once again keen to develop their own approach to leveraging the information coming from connected devices So as you can see above, even before we standardize on how information is captured from connected devices, how it is transmitted and how it is archived, I think we need a common naming approach to what we are actually dealing with here! As I said above, for the purposes of this blog I am going to simply refer to this as IoT. IoT is certainly one of the hot investment areas at the moment, touching nearly every industry sector in some way and new use cases for IoT seem to be appearing on an almost daily basis. A few weeks ago I saw a post from IDC where they estimated by 2025 there will be 163 zeta bytes of information being processed in some shape or form. Even today there are varying estimates of exactly how many connected devices there will be in the future, Cisco for example estimates that 12.2 billion devices will be connected by 2020 and Gartner estimated (on a joint webinar with OpenText) there will be around 21 billion connected devices by 2020, so I guess you could ask just how long is piece of string! OpenText recently completed a digital transformation related study with IDC, (which you can download here), the study looked to see whether new digital transformation projects such as IoT would kick-start new transformation initiatives across the supply chain. We surveyed 254 companies across seven countries and four different industries and the IoT related responses were certainly interesting as you can see below. I will provide more details on this study at a later date and I will expand on some of the IoT use cases highlighted in the table below in future blog posts relating to how supply chains can leverage an IoT platform. Question: With specific regard to the internet of things (IoT), and the use of sensors, what type of supply chain processes (or use cases) would provide the most benefit for your organization? For this particular blog I want to focus on what all these billions of devices will be connected to, from a platform point of view, and what will happen to the zeta bytes of data that will come off these devices. How will enterprise systems be able to leverage this information?, how can it be used to look for trends?, and more importantly how can it be used to streamline supply chain processes? After all, at the end of the day investing in IoT may seem like a step in the dark for many companies but it can provide significant ROI if deployed effectively. More on the benefits and ROI of IoT in a future blog. I have been following the IoT sector fairly closely over the past 4 years, since I attended an IoT World Forum Conference hosted by Cisco in 2013. However it is only in the last 12 months that IoT conversations have been turning towards establishing IoT platforms and how these can effectively act as the middle layer between the connected devices and business or supply chain process that is being improved or optimized. Early last year I spent a few hours discussing supply chain focused use cases for IoT with Gartner and how B2B Managed Services could provide the integration requirements to support an IoT enabled supply chain. He understood how our EIM solutions could help enable an IoT platform. This particular conversation led to a webinar last October which looked at the key trends in the IoT sector and what technologies an IoT platform should ideally consist of. The five key cornerstones, as discussed by Gartner in the webinar, that underpin an IoT platform, consist of device management, information management, analytics, integration and security. In my view, OpenText is in a strong position to support an IoT platform with the various solutions that we have in our EIM portfolio. OpenText could potentially partner with say, a telco provider for edge connectivity, as other vendors have done, but we can provide web and mobile app development solutions to help remotely login and configure connected devices to partially cover the device management cornerstone. The table below highlights how the six key components of OpenText’s EIM portfolio could potentially support an IoT platform strategy. In order for an IoT platform to be able to support supply chain business processes, you need to ensure that all digital information, both structured and unstructured, coming from the trading partner community can be stored in what can best be described as a ‘supply chain data lake’. OpenText Business Network already has a cloud-based data lake, hosted in our data center, which stores the B2B transactions as they move across our network. This allows companies to analyze these transactions and identify performance trends across the supply chain. For more information on this take a look at our Trading Grid Analytics web page. So let me now explain how a data lake which can accept different types of supply chain information could evolve. The figure above illustrates my interpretation of what a ‘supply chain data lake’ could look like, it highlights the type of information, both structured and unstructured that could enter the lake, and then it highlights how our EIM solutions could leverage this information in different ways across the business to help drive IoT enabled supply chain processes. Let me just expand on the different sections that make up this diagram. The first step is to ensure that you can receive information electronically from trading partners across your end-to- end supply chain. This will involve digitally enabling every trading partner, but it is more than this as every connected device, from the vehicles delivering finished goods to customers, down to the pallets carrying the goods will need to be remotely connected to the IoT platform. This allows a macro level of supply chain visibility to be achieved. Deciding what supply chain assets need to be connected to the IoT platform, what type of information needs to be obtained from the connected device, what B2B transactions need to be accessed and what you actually want to measure will then determine the type of analysis and reporting that can be achieved. The next step is to drip feed the data into the supply chain data lake. In addition to B2B transactions, and sensor based information, the lake could be populated with many other types of structured and unstructured information. For example, social media or website information relating to the service availability of key 3PL providers and inventory data from every connected asset involved with the movement of goods across an end-to-end supply chain. Multi-media data such as videos highlighting damaged goods from a supplier or perhaps new regulatory data that will impact the compliance reporting of a trading partner community. If all of this information can be placed in a centralized supply chain data lake then it can be acted upon as required by different stakeholders in the business. The third step leverages the EIM based solutions to analyze and review the information held within the supply chain data lake so that some form of process can be initiated across the supply chain. Consider this section of the diagram as an oil rig (EIM solutions) sitting on top of a valuable seam of oil (data) waiting to be extracted. Each of the EIM solutions has its role to play in processing information from the supply chain data lake, whether using Business Network to transfer information into a back end enterprise system such as ERP or using analytics to identify some form of performance trend that needs to be acted upon. Finally the IoT platform will be accessed by key stakeholders across the business, users in the procurement, manufacturing and logistics functions for example. They could leverage this information in many different ways but there are some important supply chain related use cases for how a globally accessible and fully integrated IoT platform could optimize supply chain processes. In the Gartner webinar that I highlighted earlier I discussed how an EIM-based IoT environment could support three supply chain related processes, namely Pervasive Visibility, Proactive Replenishment or Predictive Maintenance. I am going to expand on these three areas in my next blog.

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3 Priorities for Adopting a Customer-Centric Retail Supply Chain

Customer-Centric Retail

We’re spoiled. With unlimited access to products and more ways to receive purchases whenever and wherever we want, shopping has never been easier – or more challenging for retailers. Online retail sales growth has outpaced in-stores sales. ShopperTrak reported a 5% drop in in-stores sales while comScore reported a 23% increase in online shopping during the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday weekend compared to 2015. Most established retail brands have been attempting an omnichannel balancing act, but the fact is that e-commerce is now the sales growth engine. Addressing the needs of an always-on consumer and maintaining relevance in today’s highly competitive market, retailers need to put the customer at the center of everything they do. That means adopting a customer-centric supply chain to support online shopping and streamline fulfillment. Smart retail trading networks support customer-centricity Retailers can’t deliver on customer-centric initiatives alone. They need trading partners to support their efforts. Using predictive analytics to harness supply chain network data, retailers will develop more sophisticated relationships to serve customers across channels. Smart retail trading networks combine data to monitor, analyze, and report on consumer demand, inventory availability, and supply chain performance. Our new report, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, identifies three priorities to support customer-centric supply chain adoption: E-commerce–ready item management, dynamic supply chain collaboration, and customer-centric inventory orchestration. With smart trading networks, everyone wins. Customers can find what they want easily and get it fast. Retailers can be more responsive to customer needs, increase service excellence, and lower fulfillment costs. 3 Priorities for adopting a customer-centric supply chain Priority 1: E-commerce–ready item management Using manual processes like spreadsheets, email, and manual data entry results in slower time-to-market and inaccurate product information for consumers. E-commerce content management is streamlined by adding extended attributes to existing product information integration and synchronization processes. Retailers who have integrated extended attributes into their e-commerce content management processes have seen website item setup time cut in half. Priority 2: Dynamic supply-chain collaboration Existing collaboration processes won’t ensure inventory availability to consumers. Retail trading partners need to support more dynamic collaboration to service customers directly, such as with drop-ship fulfillment, meeting retailers’ higher compliance and lead-time standards. To guarantee service level execution, retailers should leverage automated communication and standards compliance processes available from smart trading networks. Retailers using automated compliance processes have dramatically increased violation identification and reduced resolution time from months to a few days. Priority 3: Customer-centric inventory orchestration To capture more sales, retailers need to better position inventory to match consumer demand using a greater level of sales and inventory visibility across the entire supply chain. They can gain universal inventory visibility by accessing data that’s readily available in smart trading networks. Customer-centric inventory orchestration helps retailers locate inventory closer to consumer demand to fulfill orders quickly, manage shipping costs effectively, and reduce markdowns. Embrace the future of customer-centric retail The success of any retailer in today’s e-commerce–driven environment depends on their ability to orchestrate a customer-centric supply chain. Smart trading networks offer analytic and collaborative capabilities to ensure better inventory visibility and supply-chain excellence – supporting fast, reliable, and cost-effective fulfillment. To learn how you can implement a customer-centric supply chain, download Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

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Learn About the Future of the Digital Supply Chain at Enterprise World 2017

Digital

Over the past four months I have been busy supporting our Innovation Tour events. Starting off in Sydney last November, then on to Singapore, Tokyo, London, Paris, Munich, Stockholm and finally Eindhoven last week. The events were a big success and we had a significant increase in attendees compared to similar events we held early last year.The Innovation Tour events are a single day format with keynotes and guest speakers in the morning and then the afternoon is broken out into product or solution specific tracks. I supported our Business Network track at some of the events and we had around three to four presentations with various customer presentations weaved into the agendas. Business Network has come a long way since GXS and EasyLink were acquired by OpenText and these events provide an ideal platform to update our customers on the investments we have made and to provide some insights into our future direction. It is certainly an exciting time to be at OpenText, especially with new digital technologies being top of mind for many CIOs around the world. No sooner do I get back from our last event in Eindhoven, we are now heads down planning for our next event, our global customer conference, Enterprise World 2017,  in Toronto in July. This will be my fourth Enterprise World and each year the event grows exponentially in size. The event runs over a few days and the format of the event is essentially an extended version of our Innovation Tour one day events, but with a lot more activities thrown in for good measure. I will explain some of those activities in a moment. OpenText has made over 50 acquisitions in its 25 year history and these acquisitions underpin our Enterprise Information Management strategy to enable companies to digitize information flowing across their business and extended enterprise. Each of these acquisitions has been placed into one of the following six product divisions across our company. At Enterprise World we will effectively have an ‘event within an event’ and Business Network will have nearly thirty breakout sessions. This is a really comprehensive series of presentations, mostly focused on product and solution offerings but we will also be delivering some key sessions relating to the future of the supply chain and providing insights relating to a new digital transformation survey from IDC. As with last year’s event I seem to have been handed multiple plates to spin for this event, but I just wanted to provide some insight into five of the sessions I will be hosting at Enterprise World 2017. Session 1 – Over several decades, OpenText™ Business Network has evolved to embrace new standards, new technologies and new ways of working with customers and trading partners. Over the past 12 months Business Network has introduced many new capabilities to improve how we both deploy and manage your end-to-end information exchange and integration requirements. However there are new technologies such as cognitive analytics, Blockchain and Industry 4.0/IoT on the horizon, and Business Network will continue evolving to embrace new technologies and new ways of working. This session will provide insights on some of these new technologies and how OpenText sees them fitting into our evolving Business Network. Session 2 – OpenText recently sponsored a study from the analyst firm IDC to understand whether new digital technologies were leading to new supply chain transformation initiatives across a company. From drones and wearable devices to Industry 4.0, today’s CIOs are spending billions of dollars looking for ways to embrace these technologies across their respective businesses. I recently posted a blog on these technologies. This is leading to a need to modernize ICT and B2B infrastructures, establish new digital back bones and somehow manage these new digital initiatives while at the same time manage complex B2B environments. B2B Managed Services can not only provide a digital backbone which seamlessly integrates external trading partners to internal enterprise systems, it can also provide additional resources to manage your B2B environment leaving you to focus on managing your business and rolling out new digital initiatives across the extended enterprise. This session will provide key insights from the study. Session 3 – Trading Grid Analytics delivers powerful intelligence for your business to optimize supply chain efficiencies, spot opportunities, and mitigate risks, before they disrupt your business. Big Data and the Digital Supply Chain are two leading disruptive forces facing companies today. According to Gartner, “Analytics top the list of important initiatives for supply chain organizations to ensure their ability to support digital business.” This session will provide an overview of the key capabilities of Trading Grid Analytics and how it can offer deeper insights into what is going on across your end to end supply chain. Session 4 – Your business is faced with multiple demands and challenges. Whether internal initiatives, such as ERP consolidation; go-to-market strategies, such as M&A activity or channel expansion; or external forces and mandates, such as electronic invoice compliance, your resources are stretched thin. Attend this session to learn how OpenText B2B Managed Services can help your organization turn these challenges into opportunity and competitive advantage and shield your business from the complexities of B2B integration allowing you to focus on your core business activities. Session 5 – If your business runs SAP, then you have made a significant investment in an ERP system that simplifies how you manage your business operations. But how do you ensure that your extended enterprise and external trading partners can leverage this investment as well? This session will explain the benefits of integrating your SAP and B2B platforms together and how SAP’s endorsement of B2B Managed Services simplifies this process. This session will also explore how SAP is leveraging other Business Network capabilities such as global e-invoice compliance, notifications, and cloud fax to enhance SAP’s solution offerings. Now I have only covered five of the sessions I will be presenting at Enterprise World 2017, we have many more for you to attend!, more details on those in future blogs. In addition to these breakout sessions there are many other activities that you can participate in, for example industry breakouts, live product and solution overviews in our expo hall and a chance to test drive new product enhancements in our developer lab. Our event this year will be held in Toronto, Canada, and if you are interested in learning more about how Business Network can support your B2B integration needs today and in the future then I would suggest taking a look at our registration page which can be accessed below. I hope to see you in Toronto in July!

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Five Compliance Challenges Facing Your Organization in 2017

compliance challenges

2017 is turning out to be a tumultuous year for compliance. A combination of Brexit, a Trump presidency and the reform of EU privacy rules has put regulatory change and uncertainty back into the spotlight. Mega-size fines have returned too and compliance officers worry about personal liability more than ever. 1. The GDPR – the countdown is on If your company hasn’t familiarized itself with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) yet you may already be behind. The GDPR was ratified in May 2016 and designed to bring personal data protection into the digital age. It imposes stringent requirements about how companies store and handle the personal data of EU citizens. The regulation will have far-reaching impacts – from how organizations obtain consent, use cookies on their website, to giving teeth to the right to be forgotten. Don’t think that, as this is EU legislation, that GDPR won’t affect you. It affects any organization that collects and stores personal data of EU citizens. With the GDPR becoming enforceable in May 2018, the countdown is on for organizations to prepare. The GDPR will impact more than just the Compliance team but indeed many other parts of the business. Key Steps An important first step is to have clarity of the personal data processing practices and content within your organization, including: • What personal data you process? • Where it is stored across the organization? • Who has access to it? • What consent has been provided and where it is documented? • Where it is transferred from and to (including to third parties and cross-border)? • How it is secured throughout its lifecycle? • Are there policies and processes in place to dispose of personal data? Visit OpenText GDPR to learn more about the regulation and how OpenText can help. 2. Pressure on the Compliance function not letting up Compliance officers have never had a higher profile than they do now but with great power comes great responsibility. Pressure on the compliance function has been steadily increasing and 2017 is no exception. For example, sixty-nine percent of firms surveyed in 2016 expected regulators to publish even more regulations in the coming year, with 26 percent expecting significantly more. In addition, personal liability appears to be a persistent worry. Sixty percent of survey respondents expect the personal liability of compliance officers to increase in the next 12 months, with 16 percent expecting a significant increase. In addition, with the GDPR comes the rare explicit requirement to appoint a qualified compliance role, the Data Protection Officer (DPO). Though the GDPR does not establish the precise credentials DPOs must have, it does require that they have “expert knowledge of data protection law and practices.” Key steps Compliance officers don’t need to be technology experts but need to know how to leverage governance, risk and compliance solutions to make their jobs easier. Other key steps include ensuring your policy framework is up-to-date and that staff understand and are trained their compliance responsibilities. Read the AIIM white paper and infographic: Managing Governance, Risk and Compliance with ECM and BPM. 3. A new administration means changes in regulatory priorities President Trump has been clear and consistent on his desire to reduce the amount of regulations in place. From financial services to the environment, compliance officers are bracing for the changes and what it will mean for them. Most industry experts agree that even where regulations are streamlined or reformed, there will be plenty of work for your team to do to address the vacuum left by previous regulations or to interpret the way the new regulations need to be applied. The picture may be uncertain at the moment but you can be certain that regardless, any changes means there’ll be work to do for your Compliance team. Key steps How do you prepare for the unknown? Many pundits advise wisely that it’s business as usual and not to re-draft policies and procedures just yet. Now’s a good time to evaluate your overall compliance program however. For example, if your organization does not have its regulatory information management house in order now is the time to clean up. Whether your firm is based in or works with the United States, the result of the potential changes to the regulatory landscape means that businesses will need to be adaptable in order to quickly take advantage of opportunities, mitigate risks, and stay in compliance. Learn about OpenText compliance solutions. Continue to read compliance challenges 4 and 5 on page 2.

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

GDPR

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

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Extending the Digital Supply Chain to Smaller Businesses with OpenText Freeway

Digital supply chain

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

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Ten New Ways Business Network Supercharges Your B2B Integration Strategy

B2B

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

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Discussing B2B Integration at OpenText Innovation Tour APAC

OpenText Innovation Tour

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

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Think Outside…for Complete Supply Chain Automation

complete supply chain automation

If you are tasked with helping to automate your supply chain, you know there is a lot of work to do internally. But many organizations forget to look outside to achieve complete supply chain automation. You can find evidence of this need in recent news about how retailers are shrinking deliver windows and increasing compliance requirements. This has also been true in the automotive industry where, because of just-in-time manufacturing, auto OEMs may penalize suppliers whose missed deliveries cause them to shut down an assembly line – to the tune of thousands of dollars PER MINUTE that the line is idle. Regardless of whether you are a supplier or a buyer, it is becoming critical that you think outside of your organization for complete supply chain automation. So how do you do that? Lora Cecere on her blog said, “However, automation enables enterprise efficiency, not value network effectiveness. Most companies cannot see beyond their firewalls. I feel it is time to rewire our supply chain thinking. This does not happen through conventional thinking. Instead, it happens through the adoption of new technologies and outside-in thinking.” This outside-in thinking and network effectiveness comes from automating the flow of transaction information with trading partners. Yet, recent research from IDC shows that although 70% of respondents believe that business success requires pervasive B2B networks that allow them to collaborate with suppliers and customers – less than 50% exchange the majority of information with most of their trading partners in electronic formats. By including supplier/buyer interactions in supply chain automation, organizations can automate a critical portion of their supply chain. The benefits of doing so include, reducing manual data entry and data entry errors, reducing transaction costs, and reducing receiving time and error. To learn more about how to think outside for complete supply chain automation watch our on-demand webinar.

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You’ve got Experience, Share it in our Survey

P2P automation survey

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

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How IoT Enables a Hyper Connected Supply Chain

IoT

Over the last three years I have been following the Internet of Things (IoT) sector very closely. It has been an interesting journey, not least because the IoT sector is continually evolving and new startup companies appear on the market on an almost daily basis. Some would argue that IoT has been around far longer and for some elements of the technologies used in an IoT environment that is certainly true. But let’s focus on the here and now. Cisco started the ball rolling in late 2013 when they introduced one of the first conferences dedicated to IoT, the IoT World Forum, and this was the event that sparked my interest in this sector. In 2014 GE, now GE Digital, became a provider of IoT solutions, mainly focused on the analytics sector. At the same time PTC, my former employer, went on a serial acquisition trail to help position themselves as a leader in the sector. Today, we seem to be entering a period of IoT partnerships, with SAP partnering with Vodafone for edge connectivity and more recently with Bosch for industrial based solutions. SAP also announced a $2Billion investment in the IoT space over the next few years. IoT is an interesting sector as it has applications in our our home, work and leisure related activities and startup companies are still evolving to capture each of these very different sectors. It is interesting to see so much partnership and investment activity in the IoT sector at the moment. For one reason or another, IoT seems to be struggling when it comes to standards, it would appear that most of the regions around the world have yet to settle on a standard IoT definition, let alone define standards for information exchange and communications. In North America the market is heavily driven by the Industrial Internet, with GE Digital driving the sector, with support from a host of Silicon Valley high tech companies. In Europe, Industry 4.0 leads with large industrial companies such as Bosch and Schneider Electric establishing internal software divisions to develop solutions for this sector. Then you have Japan with their Value Chain Initiative and China with Internet Plus. So which IoT definition is likely to win here? I think it is too early to say just yet. IoT stands to transform supply chain operations, with more connected devices across the end-to-end supply chain, IoT will enable an almost macro level of visibility that supply chain and logistics leaders have simply never had before. From Pervasive Visibility, to Proactive Replenishment and Predictive Maintenance, IoT stands to transform tomorrow’s digital supply chain operations. So what exactly is an IoT Platform and how can it support tomorrow’s supply chain? Well this is the theme of a webinar on demand that OpenText is sponsoring called The Next Big Opportunity? IoT for Your Supply Chain. Hosted by SupplyChainBrain.com, an online publisher of news and information relating to the supply chain sector, the webinar features a lead analyst from Gartner, Benoit Lheureux. Benoit is a VP of research at Gartner and his focus area relates to IoT. Benoit covers some of the key trends that Gartner is seeing in the market today and provides some interesting insights into some recent research relating to the five key building blocks for an IoT platform. I was fortunate to co-present with Benoit at Enterprise World in July and I am pleased to be presenting with Benoit once again in this webinar. One of the key enablers to establishing an IoT platform is being able to seamlessly integrate between ‘things’, enterprise systems and external trading partners. Pervasive Integration, especially when combined with a global network such as OpenText’s Business Network, can provide the key foundation to an IoT platform. So in summary the webinar covers the following areas: Discuss some of the key IoT trends today Introduce the concept of an IoT platform Discuss a number of use cases for IoT in the supply chain Learn how OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions align with the five key components of an IoT platform Understand the importance of pervasive integration in the context of IoT   So if you are currently thinking about deploying IoT across your supply chain operations be sure to check out the webinar.

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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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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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