Supply Chain

How the Internet of Things will Enable the Digital-First World

Internet of Things

Unless you have been living in a remote cave for the past two years, you will have noticed that the Internet of Things is now on the top of every CIO’s agenda. When I posted my first blog on the IoT in 2013, IoT had relatively low media coverage and then boom, it has become the must have IT strategy of the decade. Today, it is very easy to get lost in the digital disruption being caused by the IoT, so I thought it would be useful to just go back to basics for a few minutes and highlight some of the features and supply chain related applications for the IoT. The first video in my Digital-First World series for manufacturing discussed how the manufacturing industry has been moving towards the Digital-First World and I thought it would be very relevant to follow this video with my second one which focusses on IoT. Click here to watch. A day doesn’t go by when a press release goes out promoting another IoT related project somewhere around the world and it can be quite easy to misunderstand what the IoT is all about. Hence the reason for producing this relatively short video. I have to say that I do find it amazing how IoT has managed to capture the imagination of businesses around the world, more so than some of the other technology trends in recent years. One thing is for sure, the IoT is here to stay! Key to the success of the IoT is finding applications for how it can be embraced by businesses across different industry sectors. Recent reports highlight two industries where IoT has gained most traction, Manufacturing and Utilities. From a supply chain point of view, I certainly believe that the IoT will fundamentally change how supply chains operate. I have written a few blogs now on the subject of the IoT and I will be posting more IoT related materials during the course of this year.

Read More

How will 3D printers help improve banking KYC?

artificial intelligence

Yes, you just read this title correctly. 3D printers are widely known to offer the potential to be a game changer in the physical supply chain across many sectors and industries. However, the opportunity in Financial Services seems less likely, particularly in any form of real, practical application. Do you agree, or not with my statement here? Well, either way, I suggest you read on to find out more. KYC – Why is it a sensitive subject? Today, every Financial Institution runs their KYC processes themselves, for lots of reasons. At the top of the list of reasons is the reputational and financial risks that remove any appetite to give control of KYC to a 3rd party, such as a shared utility or data service. A bank caught by its regulator servicing the wrong client is usually exposed to millions or billions of dollars in fines. As we’ve seen in the news over the last 3 years, such occurrences fall into the public domain, usually with lasting reputational damages. Approach to KYC nowadays and alternatives The typical KYC process is executed manually, leveraging a combination of paperwork, de-materialisation and archiving. Overall, it is a costly and lengthy process that happens every time a new client comes on-board, when a new signatory is allowed into the relationship. It also needs to be refreshed and verified regularly. KYC processes also delay the “time-to-revenue”; typically the period of time between the agreed contract and the first day of transaction processing. A number of initiatives have been introduced over the last few years, trying to tackle this challenge from several angles. One common method that keeps coming back is to enable KYC to be done once and for all, and shared between all Financial Institutions and Counterparties. This idea of a shared utility, which would enable a client, counterparty, as a business or as an individual, to “passport” its KYC identity across all its financial suppliers. The benefits and advantages seem very compelling and include: reduced costs of processing KYC, reduced time-to-revenue for the Financial Suppliers, less hassle for the clients and counterparties. It’s a win-win for everybody, isn’t it? Why is this nut so tough to crack? Cost reductions and improved client experience benefits look very small when put in perspective with the potential risks and costs associated with non-compliance. We’re talking about millions or billions of dollars in fines, the risk to lose a banking or insurer’s license, even shutting down the business entirely. The incremental gains and advantages of digital and shared KYC do not yet appear to offset these risks. Every few months we read about a government fining a Financial Institution for facilitating illegal activities, a shared utility or international business losing its clients personal information and payment details to hackers. Surely this is not a good industry backdrop to encourage digital KYC! What about 3D printers, what’s the link? As a consumer, I find that home 3D printers are overpriced gadgets with little practical purpose. As a B2B professional working with the largest Supply Chains in the world, the potential opportunity just blows my mind. Analysts agree that most global Supply Chains will be affected, shifting current patterns of commerce and logistics to a complete transformation over the next few decades. The biggest shift will happen around companies focusing on the production of Intellectual Property, delivered in the shape of Digital Assets – such as the files containing the 3D model and assembly specifications for their products. Other companies will focus on the physical production of commercial items, based on those Digital Assets. Analysts agree that most of this world will never be exposed to consumers, just like the world of global logistic is today. The disruption: Digital Assets and Digital Identity If you download music, movies or games regularly, (legally of course) then you probably know about Digital Rights Management (DRM). This early 2000s technology somewhat enabled contents producers and commercial online sharing platforms to ensure you are the only person able to play a track, or rent a movie for a certain period of time. 3D printers bring a new, bigger compelling event for such DRMs, the opportunity to control who can print a product, how many copies, for how long, with verified raw materials and on certified printing equipment. There are typically two facets for this technology: the Digital Asset itself (the 3D design combined with printing requirements and authorised users), and the Digital Identity (the certified, authenticated businesses and users). You see where this is going now… Digital Identity management will spread fast and wide, surfing the 3D printing revolution both for B2B and consumer markets. Digital Assets owners and producers will have an enormous stake and KYC shared utilities will probably continue to experiment and grow over the next couple of years, with more and more “use cases” coming into the frame. I don’t believe that shared utilities for a single industry will gather enough critical mass. Payments and Cash Management itself is already changing, with the introduction of PSD2 rules in Europe, the rise of Blockchain technology and distributed payment ledgers. If we look broadly, banking users (business or consumers) also begin to require a unique Digital Identity for other aspects of their life. Combining innovation with regulation over the next five years is going to be key and the winner will likely manage to combine Digital Identity across several industries and markets, similar to the IT Certificates Authorities (CAs) that spread across all industries since the early 2000s.

Read More

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

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

Read More

NAB SHOWTIME

This year at NAB, OpenText is demonstrating an example of how integrated and interconnected technologies working together are able to support the Digital Media Supply Chain. OpenText Media Management is an enterprise Digital Asset Management, DAM, system that is an integral part of the core infrastructure for digital media in organizations whether video, publishing, branding, or global marketing campaigns. What is this “Digital Media Supply Chain”? For many of the largest companies it is a transformation from linear processes to a non-linear, dynamic, real-time delivery supply chain across multiple channels and outlets. Media companies have many projects across multiple production areas – video, graphics, photography – plus contributions from agencies, stock houses and contractors. Delivery is not just for a single channel, but an amalgamation of many delivery and consumption points, each with its own requirements. Media Management is interconnected with technologies from OpenText and others, managing digital media as it is created, stored and delivered. It supports the Digital Media Supply Chain from project initiation and production to delivery and analytics. Unlike traditional DAM systems, Media Management has engineered a platform allowing customers to connect people, processes, and content with a sophisticated yet simple HTML5 UI. Media Management supports enterprise-wide ecosystems and digital media supply chains for global delivery of rich media across multiple channels and platforms. What this means for our customers is a “media-enabled” infrastructure to streamline content and data flows throughout the organization. At NAB, our story demonstrates a complex ecosystem from media creation to consumption with Media Management providing a “single source of truth” and a consolidated asset repository for video, marketing, branding, commerce and global distribution. This sophisticated ecosystem has many interdependent and interrelated technologies. It is not just gluing the technologies together; it is orchestrating the flow of data, collaboration and synchronization, then automating the processes for streamlined input and output. Media Management has an open platform with REST APIs, and web services to integrate and even embed DAM functionality with the many different systems and technologies. This centralized repository for media content, with browser-based, user-friendly search and easy (yet secure) sharing helps eliminate all those multiple islands of unmanaged digital assets throughout an organization. Our story starts as an idea that gets a green light, initiating a new project. OpenText Process Suite orchestrates the people, resources, schedule and budget, triggering a flexible project structure in OTMM for all the content deliverables – such as video promos, DVD covers, one-sheets, web graphics, ecommerce, catalogs, artwork for merchandising, billboards, and cross-channel ad and social campaigns. These deliverables and their dependencies are produced in parallel using, reusing and repurposing content and designs for multiple channels and campaigns, allowing producers to select teams, assign and monitor tasks. It is connected to rights and talent contracts to provide detailed usage and contract information as the project progresses. Creative teams use their native tools integrated with Media Management for work-in-progress, versioning, metadata tagging and storage. Collaboration, annotation, reviews and approval for video and images are done in real-time for single assets or collections with a complete audit trail. Media Management has secure, encrypted file acceleration embedded in the platform guaranteeing fast delivery of large files. All of this supports multiple production centers with Media Management as the central repository to search, collect, manage and share digital content. OpenText Media Management bridges the creative production processes and Omni-channel delivery, enabling a faster and more dynamic media supply chain. It automates transformation of digital media to the proper format, aspect ratio and bit-rate based on the delivery channel allowing automated publishing to Web Content Management Systems, such as OpenText Web Experience Management System, CDN file delivery, integration with ecommerce platforms, CRM, and interactive communications. As marketing and commerce shift to high gear, it provides usage metrics as part of the larger analytics and data to allow better performance insight and the ability to make adjustments. Media Management is a core technology within the OpenText Customer Experience Management (CEM) Suite, which includes Web Experience Management, Interactive Customer Communication. OpenText delivers the integrated environments to support the many different teams involved in the creation, management and delivery of rich media. Digital Media Supply Chains enabled with OpenText technology provide a platform for today and a foundation for the future. Discover more about OpenText Media Management here.

Read More

OpenText Study Proves that B2B Integration Significantly Improves Supply Chain Performance

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

Read More

Why Your EDI and B2B Processes Need Analytics

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

Read More

Business Process: The Future of ECM

For years, enterprise content management (ECM) solutions were adopted primarily for two main use cases. The first was to achieve compliance, and many early adopters of ECM continue to successfully use it to address various regulatory requirements. Compliance provided functionality for records management, archiving, and information governance. A while back I wrote a blog post titled What Features Ensure Compliance? that elaborates on the functionality required for compliance use cases. The second use case was around team effectiveness with functionality such as collaboration, document sharing, and social capabilities. Collaboration is subject to frequent changes in direction as every new technology promises an easier and more compelling user experience—from mobility and social software to file sync-and-share. The frequent feature churn in the collaborative use cases doesn’t go well with the compliance requirements that often need the system to remain unchanged for several years (validated environments, anyone?). ROI and Dependency on the User Not only were the two primary use cases not really well aligned in their feature requirements, they had two additional challenges. Neither use case provides a very strong ROI. Sure, we marketers always calculate the savings in storage and government fines that compliance solutions help you avoid. But let’s face it: preventing penalties is not exactly a hard ROI and storage is cheap (or at least everybody thinks it is). The collaborative use cases are even worse—measuring the ROI here is fuzzy at best and often impossible. The second challenge was the dependency on the users to do the right thing. For the compliance use cases, users were expected to diligently file their documents, weed out their inboxes, type in the metadata, and apply the right retention policies. Obviously, users are not very consistent at it, even if you try to force them. In the case of collaboration, users were expected to share their documents openly with others, comment in a productive way, and stay away from email and all the other collaboration tools around them. As it turns out, this type of behavior very much depends on the culture of the team—it works for some, but it will never work for others. The adoption of any collaboration solution is therefore usually very tribal. So, is there any hope for ECM? Can we get an ROI and get employees to use it without someone watching over their shoulder? ECM: Part of the Process As it turns out, there is a third type of use case emerging. It is the use of ECM as part of a business process. Business processes are something people already do—we don’t have to force anyone. That’s what companies and working in them is all about: everything we do is part of a business process. Business processes are also important, relevant, and very measurable. There is an ROI behind every business process. Every instance of a business process includes the context, which can be used to populate the metadata and to select the right policy automatically. Business processes can handle the automation of content management and don’t have to rely on the end user to do it. But business processes don’t live in ECM. Sure, the process artifacts usually reside in a content repository, but it would be a stretch to claim that the entire business process happens in an ECM application. Nor does it live in the BPM application, even if that application may be the primary application for some users. In fact, there is usually a master application from the structured data world that rules the business process: enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain management (SCM), etc. That’s why it is important for ECM to connect with the master applications through the business process. This is not just a simple way to link data sets or to hand over data from one system to another. Using modern, REST-based technology, it is possible to achieve integration that goes much deeper and involves users, roles, permissions, classifications, and of course the user experience. Deal with Content Chaos ECM addresses some very important problems that every organization has to deal with. Given the volume and relentless growth of content in every enterprise, it has to be managed. Yet ECM struggled to be adopted widely because of lack of tangible ROI and a difficulty to attract end users. Tying ECM to a business process through a master application addresses these challenges. It may not solve every problem with content in the enterprise and there will still be content outside of any business process, but it will go a long way to dealing with what AIIM calls “Content Chaos”. Click below to view my SlideShare presentation from the AIIM Conference 2015 on the challenges with traditional approaches to ECM and a solution provided by tying ECM to business processes: Business Process – the Future of ECM from Lubor Ptacek  

Read More

How B2B Integration Drives Superior Supply Chain Performance

Today’s manufacturers face a constant challenge of balancing supply chain efficiency with the investment placed in their B2B integration platform. To try and get a better understanding of whether increased use of B2B solutions and services impacts the performance of a supply chain, OpenText sponsored a new B2B integration related study with IDC Manufacturing Insights. This blog will briefly summarise some of the key findings from the study. IDC conducted a one hour qualitative survey with 270 global manufacturers across the automotive, high tech and consumer product goods sub-sectors. We had representation from eight countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and North America. In order to try and develop the hypothesis, IDC asked a number of questions about current B2B implementation initiatives across the 270 companies and they also asked questions relating to key supply chain metrics across each company. I spent a few months working with IDC on this study, so let me just highlight some of the B2B responses first. The first question looked at the key business initiatives that companies were embarking on over the next three years and international expansion into new markets was the key project as shown by the chart below. It is interesting to note that while many companies are trying to improve supply chain visibility and improve supply chain responsiveness they were not as high up in the chart as international expansion, develop more services and reduce operational costs. Indeed diversification into new sub-sectors is a key activity for many manufacturers today, for example high-tech companies exploring new opportunities in the growing electric vehicle market. In order to try and understand how pervasive B2B technologies were across the companies surveyed, the next question asked about the volume of electronic transactions that were being conducted today. Given the consumer driven, fast moving nature of the automotive and high tech sectors, I guess it is no surprise that it is these two industries that are exchanging transactions electronically with more than 75% of their trading partners. CPG on the other hand has a relatively low level, probably due to the fact that many CPG goods are manufactured in countries such as India and China where the use of B2B tools is relatively low when compared to other manufacturing hubs around the world. The study found there were a number of business drivers for companies needing to improve their B2B environment over the next three years. According to leading analysts, the manufacturing sector is going to be the fastest growing adopter of new Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) regulations. This was confirmed by the responses to our study which said that increased regulatory compliance was the number one reason why companies were increasing investment in their B2B infrastructure. This was closely followed by an increasing pressure from customers to adopt B2B integration processes. The survey showed that there was a marked shift in terms of the key barriers to adopting new B2B services. One of the main barriers in the past was getting top level management buy in that B2B integration could bring significant benefits to the business. Our study showed that this barrier was the least likely to prevent a new B2B project from starting. In fact the number one barrier to increased B2B adoption was competing IT projects such as ERP. ERP is typically the number one focus area for CIOs and as such tend to get the most budget and resources to deploy. ERP systems typically have to be live by a specific date and if the date slips then IT resources from other projects are pulled in as required. This could leave other IT projects such as a B2B on-boarding project severely exposed. Even when companies have deployed an ERP and B2B environment, our study showed that nearly 40% of companies had still not integrated their ERP and B2B platforms together. Here at OpenText we find ERP B2B integration projects as a key driver for companies adopting our B2B Managed Services environment. In terms of the benefits gained from B2B integration, companies cited lower inventories as the main benefit. This was most apparent from nearly 60% of automotive respondents who have invested heavily in recent years following the last economic downturn and to help support their global expansion initiatives. As I highlighted at the beginning of this blog post, the study was truly global in nature, covering all the major manufacturing hubs around the world and I just wanted to briefly highlight some of the key findings by region: 71% of German companies trade electronically with less than 50% of their trading partners 80% of Japanese companies said that inventory reduction was a key benefit of B2B integration 62% of US companies trading electronically with more than 50% of their trading partners 27% of Chinese companies trading electronically with more than 50% of their trading partners 57% of South Korean companies said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to B2B adoption One of the major goals of the study was to find out how companies were progressing in their understanding of how modern B2B technologies can help drive superior business results. To achieve this, it was important to get an understanding of the perceived performance of specific supply chain activities. Once these supply chain metrics were analysed it would then be possible to see if there was any correlation between supply chain performance and the impact of B2B technologies. Here are some examples of the metrics that were measured as part of the analysis: 50% of US companies can process an invoice in under one hour 73% of Chinese companies have an average time to market of less than 120 days 90% of Brazilian companies perform up to two inventory turns per month 87% of Chinese companies deliver greater than 95% perfect orders 60% of Japanese companies have an average customer order delivery time of less than 7 days Overall, there were some interesting findings from a supply chain metrics point of view and I will write a separate blog that examines some of these results. But in the meantime I just wanted to include one chart relating to a specific business process that is seeing increasing levels of digitisation, namely invoicing. The chart below highlights the time it takes for the surveyed companies to process an invoice. The real-time numbers shown below would indicate companies that have adopted electronic invoicing solutions. Acknowledging that the supply chain metrics would be different for each industry, average metrics were created for each industry and IDC then identified ‘top performer’ companies for each metric, ie companies with a performance that significantly exceeds industry average. Building upon this analysis, four ‘performance groups’ were defined according to the amount of times each company was over performing their industry average. Leaders – Companies that are “top performers” in 4 or more metrics Experts – Companies that are “top performers” in 2 or 3 metrics Beginners – Companies that are “top performers” in just one metric Laggards – Companies that are never “top performers” Now I could just provide the final chart that shows the correlation between B2B integration and these four performance groups, however to get a better understanding of this study and the responses we got from these 270 global manufacturers, I would actively encourage you to download a copy of the study, which is available to download FROM HERE. IDC drew a number of conclusions from the results of the study and the complete list of recommendations are available by downloading the study, however some key points include: Start from Business Integration to Achieve Collaboration – To obtain a comprehensive view of the extended supply chain and collaborate with business partners you should first be able to integrate with them Redesign Supply Chains – Having a collaborative information exchange process is core to being able to support global trading partners and ensure that supply chains are resilient in the face of volatile demand or unexpected supply chain disruptions Acknowledge the Opportunity of Elevating the Role of Your B2B Infrastructure – B2B infrastructures are in many cases still considered a commodity tool, but moving forward manufacturers will need to make it: ‘The central information exchange layer of the organization’ In summary, the study demonstrated that manufacturers can achieve hard benefits by improving their B2B related processes. In fact the study demonstrated that there was a strict correlation between having a pervasive, more modern and collaborative B2B platform in place and being a leader in supply chain performance. To get a better understanding of the analysis and to get IDC’s direct response to the findings from the study I would encourage you to DOWNLOAD the study and if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact OpenText. Over the next few weeks I will take a deeper look at some of the industry specific results from the study

Read More

On-Boarding Supply Chain Partners Should Take 5 Minutes

Jibun Bank in Japan allows consumers to open a bank account  simply by uploading a photo of your driver’s license to the financial institution.  U-Bank of Australia promises to open a bank account in less than 5 minutes if you scan a passport or Medicare card.  If risk-averse banks can make customer on-boarding almost instantaneous and effortless then why can’t we do the same for on-boarding of business partners in the supply chain?  Adding a new customer (or supplier) to a business network take days and often requires lots of forms, emails or phone calls.  Here is a hypothetical scenario: Suppose you are a startup making a hot new gadget (think wearable tech). Your sales team recently got the merchandising department of Walmart.com to resell your product on their website. But the sales team forgot to setup an electronic commerce relationship. You already do business electronically with the other online retailers that sell your product.  And you enjoy the convenience of not having to track PDF purchase orders and invoices coming into various email inboxes. How do you go about exchanging electronic orders, invoices and shipping documents with Walmart.com? You could visit Walmart’s supplier portal and read through pages and pages of documentation to discern the best way to exchange electronic purchase orders and invoices.  Alternatively, you could call your business network and ask how to get electronically connected to Walmart. After a few phone calls and emails with a little bit of luck you may be up and running in a few days. But I would argue there should be a much faster way.  Here is how the on-boarding process should work: 1) You open up the app for your business network on your smartphone. To begin exchanging electronic documents with one of your customers simply take a photo of a recent purchase order.  The image of the document then is uploaded to your business network. 2) Optical character recognition technology identifies your customer’s name (e.g. Walmart.com) and address based upon the image. An algorithm then matches the customer using a database of all the companies on the business network.  The logo of the company (e.g. Walmart) comes up on your smartphone screen asking you to confirm that this is the customer you wish to do electronic business with. 3) Next, the smartphone app looks up your profile. How does your company typically interact with the business network – Do you type information into a web form? Do you move files into Dropbox or Box.net? Do you upload an extract from your ERP or invoicing system? Your preferred method is identified and displayed on your phone with a request to confirm. 4) Based upon your customer’s (e.g. Walmart.com) profile, the app then identifies the business documents that your customer uses – purchase orders, ship notices, bills of lading, invoices, product catalogs, sales forecasts and remittance advice.   The list is displayed on your phone.  You check the boxes for the documents you wish to send and receive. 5) The necessary maps or forms (based upon your preference in step #3) are then auto-magically provisioned on to the business network. 6) You are sent an email or SMS text message confirming completion of the process. 7) You are offered the option to send a test transaction to confirm that everything is working properly.  Data taken from the scanned purchase order is used to populate a sample order confirmation that is sent to the customer.  A successful confirmation is returned and you are now ready to do business electronically. The post On-Boarding Supply Chain Partners Should Take 5 Minutes appeared first on All About B2B.

Read More

Did You Know That 77% of CPG Companies are ‘Low Adopters’ of B2B Integration Technologies?

AS2 FTP

In the last of a series of industry focused blogs relating to a new B2B study that OpenText commissioned from IDC Manufacturing Insights, I just wanted to briefly review the responses from the CPG related manufacturers. As I mentioned before, the aim of the study was to see if there was any correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study.  You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The consumer product goods industry has undergone immense financial pressures in recent years, with retailers squeezing their margins and continually changing payment terms to suit market conditions. CPG companies are now having to source manufactured goods from new low cost markets. The introduction of the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) countries is starting to cause a global shift away from the BRIC markets where many CPG related goods have traditionally been manufactured.  Even Chinese based manufacturers are looking at new markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam as they offer lower cost manufacturing than their own country. This constant shift in production location is being driven by a need to source the highest quality goods at the lowest prices. Some CPG manufacturers headquartered in North America and Europe have struggled to automate their supply chain processes due to B2B enablement issues relating to suppliers in the new generation of emerging markets.  It should be every company’s goal to electronically enable 100% of their trading partner community but the findings from the IDC study showed that the CPG sector is actually behind the more advanced B2B infrastructures used in the automotive and high tech industries. Here are some of the key findings from the IDC study: 94% said they trade electronically with less than 50% of their trading partners – this highlights a huge opportunity to B2B enable an entire trading partner community.  It is highly likely that companies struggle to enable suppliers in emerging markets, perhaps due to limited technical skills within the supply base, poor IT infrastructures to support B2B solutions and limited availability of skilled resources on the ground in these particular locations. If CPG companies are to 100% enable trading partner engagement then they need to offer a range of B2B enablement tools and more importantly work with a B2B provider that can help onboard these really small suppliers in the most remote of locations.  Needless to say this is an area that OpenText has significant experience in. 49% said that their customers are driving new B2B projects – changing consumer demand and a switch to Omni-channel retailing is having a dramatic effect on CPG manufacturers.  Retailers are having to become more responsive to these fluctuations in consumer demand by embracing new retail concepts such as ‘dark stores’ and shipping direct to the consumer. The explosive growth in online retail, especially across mobile devices such as the iPad, means that retailers need to be more responsive to their customers and this has led to a need to modernize B2B infrastructures and offer tighter integration to backend enterprise platforms such as ERP. 49% said reduced logistics costs was a key benefit of B2B integration – ensuring that a CPG manufacturer has end to end visibility across their supply chain has become a key initiative for today’s Supply Chain Director.  From being able to identify inventory located in a distribution centre anywhere in the world to tracking inventory in transit in real time across multi-modal third party logistics providers, B2B integration provides the opportunity to seamlessly keep track of inventory movements.  B2B integration, especially via tools being deployed in the cloud, allows 3PL providers to automate many manual, paper based processes. In the past, delays in shipping goods would have been caused by simply mis-typing information into shipping related documentation. Extracting this information automatically from other business systems through B2B integration and then creating the correct shipping labels or 2D bar codes has significantly helped to reduce logistics costs and simplify the cross border shipment of goods. 42% said that competing IT projects such as ERP were a barrier to starting B2B projects – this was actually a common issue across all the industries surveyed for this study.  However out of all the B2B adoption barriers highlighted by the CPG respondents to the study, introduction of new ERP projects was by far the most common barrier to starting a new B2B project.  As highlighted in the automotive related findings, ERP integration is typically the most high profile project undertaken by today’s CIO and if an ERP go live date is missed then IT resources will be pulled in from other projects to complete as required.  This will for example leave a B2B project exposed or could indefinitely delay the start of a new B2B project.  A simple solution to this particular problem is to use the B2B resources of an outsourced provider such as OpenText who can look after your B2B project whilst your IT organization focusses on your ERP deployment. So despite operating in a very fast moving, consumer driven market, CPG companies tend to lag behind other industries in terms of B2B adoption. In fact the study showed that 77% of CPG respondents said they were low adopters of electronic transactions and B2B processes. It is no surprise that companies in this sector perceived fewer benefits from their installed B2B technologies and at the same time this highlights the opportunity for savvy companies willing to take their B2B infrastructures to the next stage. From a general supply chain metrics point of view, 84% of CPG respondents had an average customer order delivery time of less than seven days and 97% of CPG companies have an average time to market of less than 120 days. Finally, another interesting result from the study relates to which new and disruptive technologies are going to have the most impact on CPG manufacturers.  The study highlighted that In the automotive industry it was 3D printing, in the high tech industry it was advanced robotics and in the CPG industry it is the ‘Internet of Things’.  The benefits of IoT are well documented and in the fast moving consumer goods market having the ability to track shipments through a broad network of connected ‘things’ and to also be able to detect out of stock situations more quickly will help to improve the overall performance of CPG related supply chains. For me it is just interesting that CPG companies have latched onto IoT as being a key enabler for improving their business operations before they have even got the basic B2B infrastructure in place to be able to exchange information electronically across their trading partner community. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form here. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

Read More

Wholesale Banking: The Drivers Behind Digital Channels

I use a tablet computer for many aspects of my daily life: paying bills, online shopping, social networking and entertainment. There is a slick and easy-to-use app for everything and I can access it instantly for a very low price. These applications are all interconnected, pre-packaged, and running on industrial electronic highways behind the scenes, creating the “instantaneous” experience of the digital life. Strangely, my digital life goes six years back in time, five days a week between 8am and 6pm. This “retro” feeling is experienced by millions of office workers, largely because our consumer world at home is already digital. . Expectations are shifting faster than reality, especially in the workplace. This article focuses on the impact of this digital “gap” in the world of wholesale banking. Enter Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) on my left, Corporates on my right. A Historical Difference Between the SMB and Corporate Market Until recently, the first group ─ the SMB market ─ had the tendency to use local currency bank accounts and domestic “low value” payments through historical clearing with a fairly small financial supply chain. Business Online Banking was the most appropriate channel to capture their payables and receivables, either through web-based file upload/download or manual form input. In other cases, a small or medium business would outsource this function to a payment and payroll Service Bureau. In a last example, a medium business would have a direct “legacy” electronic submission method with the Bank (BACSTEL-IP in the UK). The treasury team is often just one or a small number of individuals with other responsibilities in the business, such as accounting and office administration. The second group, Corporates, is more “industrial”, requiring direct host-to-host integration for both low- and high-value payments coming from a Treasury system ─ part of an organized and optimized Treasury and Financial Supply Chain function. Payroll files, collection instructions, and payment submissions are the result of highly industrial processes, requiring an industrial relationship with the Bank. The day-to-day process is fairly unattended; however the treasury team usually consists of top professionals versed in the world of working capital optimization, intra-day liquidity and cash flow management. SMBs Behaving Like Corporates and Vice-versa On one hand, Small and Medium Businesses are becoming accustomed to commercial “digital” packages that enable them to automate their small treasury and finance operations. Accounting and treasury desktop software ─ usually available as an online or mobile version as well ─ now enable SMBs to “transact” with their Bank, instead of painstakingly browsing an online banking website to upload or type a series of records. SMBs are basically becoming “host-to-host capable” through Internet-based communication protocols like sFTP and HTTPs. On the other hand, Corporates need to manage more and more exceptions in their industrial process, such as prompting a business signatory to execute an action, or “hijacking” and applying manual intervention against a transaction outside the industrial flow. For example, high value payments require multi-eye approval from business executives. Receivables reconciliation issues are flagged up to accountants immediately during an intra-day bank statement report. This leads corporates to require more and more flexibility from their technology to act outside the industrial corporate-to-bank flow of information ─ typically through a digital and user-friendly online banking or mobile-based ecosystem. A corporate treasurer or signatory will be much more open for an iPad-based executive approval prompt from the Bank (with contextual information), rather than go to the office, insert a physical security token on his desktop computer or on one of the treasury workstations. This is the beginning of the “omnichannel” age for wholesale banking. What’s Holding Back the Banks? SMB and corporate channels were designed for their original purpose: online and mobile banking for the former group, host-to-host for the latter. These are usually in silos separated from front- to back-office, with huge Program Management and IT lifecycle structures around them. Digital requirements and converging client markets mean only one thing ─ these banking platforms and the traditional approach are becoming obsolete. So are their mind-boggling costs for keeping the lights on, or applying simple changes. Digital Transformation ─ The Way Forward Digital channels have a positive side effect on the bank’s technology estate: it enables to keep products lean and simple, free of client-specific customization. This is something that banks call their “vanilla flavour”. Client customizations are built and maintained within the channel layer. Payment, trade finance, investment banking, and even consumer products remain leaner, easier to maintain throughout their lifecycle with fewer dependencies and more predictable P&L changes over time. I sincerely believe that banks will start competing with a growing number of non-bank financial suppliers (independent trade finance organizations and PSD2 service providers). The Digital Transformation is necessary now to compete and differentiate tomorrow.

Read More

Infusing the Supply Chain with Analytics

The strategic use of supply chain information is a key driver of competitive advantage in the Digital-First World. Once a company’s B2B processes are automated and transactions are flowing, visibility into those transactions can fuel better strategic and tactical decision-making across the entire business network. Insights from analytics allow trading partners to speed their decision-making, rapidly respond to changing customer and market demands, and optimize their business processes. Our mission at OpenText is to enable our customers to prepare for and thrive in the digital future. Analytic capabilities will play a key role. As I’ve said in previous posts, analytic technologies represent the next frontier in extracting value from enterprise information. For this reason, we are infusing new analytic capabilities into all our core solutions. We recently added new analytic capabilities to the OpenText Trading Grid to help our customers easily access insights for improving their supply chains’ effectiveness. The OpenText Trading Grid is powered by the OpenText Cloud and is the world’s leading B2B integration network, processing more than 16 billion transactions per year, integrating 600,000 trading partners for more than 60,000 customers around the globe. The solution boasts easy-to-use dashboards which depict and summarize data trends and compare them to key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business. They allow companies to evaluate the performance of suppliers or the behavior of customers and use this information to improve processes and relationships. On a more granular level, ‘track and trace’ data highlights exception information about a specific order, shipment, or invoice. By taking prompt corrective action, companies can remedy a situation before process performance degrades or costs accumulate. There are many, many scenarios in which analytic insights bring incredible benefit to the supply chain. Armed with information about the physical location of products or shipments, companies are able to plan operations with greater efficiency, reduce the number of items lost in transit, and fulfill orders with greater accuracy. They can replenish products as shortages are detected. When it comes to process automation, information about the performance of equipment is used to track degradation, order replacement parts, and schedule service before failure occurs. Today, the digital supply chain is an information supply chain that coordinates the flow of goods, communications, and commerce internally and externally across an extended ecosystem of business partners. It seamlessly integrates data from supply chain processes and smart equipment, and tracks intelligent products, parts, and shipments tagged with sensors. Within a few short years it will expand to integrate data from the Internet of Things (IoT). Data will flow online from myriad devices, including wearable technologies, 3-D printers, and logistics drones. It is expected that we will see a thirty-fold increase in web-enabled physical devices by the year 2020. All of these devices producing volumes of data will create a network rich with information and insights. This is the future. A future in which analytics bring incredible value and competitive advantage to the supply chain. And we are only just beginning to envision it. To learn more about OpenText Trading Grid Analytics, read our press release or visit our website.

Read More

Did You Know That 80% of High Tech Companies are ‘High Adopters’ of B2B Integration Technologies?

A few weeks ago I posted a blog summarising the automotive related results from a recent B2B study that OpenText sponsored. The aim of the study was to see if there was a direct correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. I will take a look at the CPG related results in my next blog but as I am spending this week in the heart of Silicon Valley over on the US West Coast I thought it only appropriate to discuss the high tech results in this blog article. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study. You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The global high tech industry is going through a major renaissance at the moment, new business opportunities being presented in the automotive industry, wearable devices and the internet of things sectors. In fact I would say that high tech companies are investing more in the internet of things related technologies than any other industry sub-sector at the moment, for example Intel’s investment in a new generation of chips for embedded devices. With all this focus on new investment areas it presents further opportunities for consolidation across the industry and only last week NXP semiconductors announced their intention to acquire their smaller rival Freescale Semiconductors. Continued M&A activity will present new challenges for B2B managers across the industry as they are forced to consolidate multiple B2B networks on to a single global B2B network. Increased regulatory compliance such as Conflict Minerals compliance is starting to be adopted by more regions around the world as a way of removing so called ‘3TG’ minerals from global supply chains. Increased regulatory compliance is driving a need for companies to think about how they manage their trading partner communities and how ultimately they should be working more collaboratively with their global trading partners. Finally this week will see high tech supply chains gearing up for the launch of the next big consumer must have gadget, Apple’s iWatch is finally being released. Apple is a past master at readying their supply chain for such product launches but it does nicely illustrate how the high tech industry has become so consumer driven in nature. So now let me discuss a few of the high tech related results from our study: 79% said they exchange B2B transactions electronically with their trading partners . I guess there is no surprise here that high tech companies have a high expectation to exchange business documents electronically with their trading partners. As with the automotive industry, the high tech industry is truly global in nature and in the case of semi-conductor chips they are manufactured in a multi-stage process that embraces many different production and finishing locations around the world. To try and encourage greater participation from its trading partners around the world, the high tech industry introduced its own highly successful XML based document format called RosettaNet which is still very much in use across the industry today. 58% said that B2B adoption had reduced their procurement costs. Greater visibility into the supply chain and in particular inventory locations around the world meant that high tech companies could reduce their procurement costs by being able to better optimise inventory from multiple locations around the world. In addition, the costs and time to manually process transactions across the procure to pay process can be reduced by providing high tech trading partners with the right B2B tools according to their technical capabilities. 54% said that shipment status was one of the most important B2B transactions in use across their industry today . Knowing when supplier shipments are going to turn up at the factory gate is crucial to the smooth running of today’s production lines. Connecting to a single, global, cloud based B2B platform such as OpenText Trading Grid provides the end to end visibility that high tech manufacturers require. It is not just improved visibility into the direct materials supply chain but also in the aftermarket repair business where field service teams need to know when spare parts will arrive, being able to tell a customer that their high tech product will be repaired by a specific date is key to improving customer satisfaction levels. 47% said that competing IT projects such as ERP were a barrier to starting B2B projects . Given that ERP projects such as a major SAP deployment are the most expensive and hence high profile IT project under the control of the CIO, it is no wonder that ERP projects tend to get 100% attention from IT resources during a roll out phase. Having all IT resources diverted to an ERP deployment can potentially disrupt other IT initiatives such as a B2B program for example. Then again I would argue that if 47% of high tech companies see ERP as a barrier to B2B adoption, I would say that during ERP implementation this provides the ideal opportunity to think about integrating ERP and B2B platforms together. ERP B2B integration is a key reason why many high tech companies have deployed our Managed Services platform to provide a single outsourced integration platform. So the barrier in this case certainly provides the opportunity for B2B integration. 42% said they processed invoices in real time with trading partners . In Europe for example, with 28 member countries of the European Union, there are 28 different tax compliance laws, 28 different ways to apply digital signatures and 28 different ways to archive invoices. If you are a high tech company based across the border in one of the Eastern European countries such as Slovenia then navigating your way through invoicing compliance in Western Europe is a complex process. The high tech industry is not only consumer driven but it is fast moving in nature and its suppliers need to make sure they can be paid quickly in order to make sure that they can fulfil orders to their numerous customers in a timely manner. Adopting B2B integration and in particular electronic invoicing can significantly reduce invoice processing times and by working with a company such as OpenText that offers electronic invoicing solutions it means that you can work with suppliers in any country, irrespective of the invoice regulations that may be present in these countries. In fact one further piece of analysis that we did as part of this project found that automating invoicing processes through the use of B2B integration technologies such as electronic invoicing had increased the speed of invoice processing by 156%. Overall, the high tech industry had the highest level of electronic B2B exchange of all the industries surveyed with nearly 80% being ‘high adopters’ of B2B integration technologies. As mentioned earlier this is due to the fast paced nature of the industry, with nearly 99% of high tech respondents performing two inventory turns per month, and the need to have a highly responsive supply chain network that can adapt to continually changing market dynamics. This is amplified by the diverse range of trading partners involved across the high tech supply chain, from contract manufacturers (who make products for many different customers) to distributors, and fabless semiconductor manufacturers to raw material providers. Exploiting new market opportunities over the next three years was one of the key initiatives being undertaken by high tech companies. 57% of South Korean respondents, of which a high proportion were from the high tech industry, said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to B2B adoption, however I would argue that if companies chose a cloud based B2B platform then this would not only help to reduce supply chain complexity but it would help to provide the flexibility and scalability that the fast moving high tech industry urgently needs. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form here. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

Read More

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

Mark Morley

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

Read More

Could the Smart Trash Can Take Waste Out of the Supply Chain?

In my last post I introduced a vision for the Smart Trash that would automatically identify the items you are throwing away. What would you do with the data collected? The waste management company may not have much use for the data, but manufacturers and retailers who are trying to predict what consumers are going to buy next would find it very valuable. What would you do with the data collected? The waste management company may not have much use for the data, but manufacturers and retailers who are trying to predict what consumers are going to buy next would find it very valuable. How would the smart trash can work? There are a couple of different options. Version one (circa 2017) would probably rely on the use of RFID tags and readers. If manufacturers put RFID tags on each of the items you purchased then the smart trashcan would be able to identify them automatically. Version two (circa 2018) might add a camera to the lid. As items are being disposed of the camera would automatically recognize the item using “visual search” technology found in Google Goggles. Perhaps the smart trash can might have multiple cameras at different depths that could see through trash bag liners to identify items at rest. Version three (circa 2020) might be more advanced with capabilities to identify items based upon smell. Perhaps, the trash can would be fitted with sensors that can detect odors and identify items based upon their chemical composition. You might be wondering what data retailers and manufacturers use to forecast demand today and whether smart trashcans would provide an improvement. Today, the primary data used for forecasting demand is the information about what shoppers are buying at individual stores or what is called “Point-of-Sale” data. Every night retailers and manufacturers run reports to understand how many of each item was sold in each store. They then try to guesstimate how much inventory they have on hand and whether or not they are going to run out of stock in the coming days (weeks or months). If they are running low on inventory then will need to issue a replenishment order. Would trash can data provide better insights than Point of Sale data? This begs a good question. What provides better insights into future sales – what people are buying or what they are throwing away? Is monitoring Point-of-Sale data a better approach than monitoring waste? Let’s first think about items that are regularly purchased – batteries, diapers, detergent, shampoo, soda, milk, bread and salty snacks. I would argue that monitoring consumption (via trashcans) of these repeat purchases is a better indicator of near-term demand. If someone throws out a milk container they are very likely going to buy a new one in the next 24 hours. In many cases, the disposal of an item after it is consumed is the event that triggers the need to buy another one. But what about items which are not consistent, repeat purchases? Examples might include toys, electronics, clothing, shoes, etc. For these inconsistent purchases you might question the validity of the correlation between waste patterns and future purchases. Just because you throw something away doesn’t mean that you are going to purchase it again – immediately or ever. The value of using the trash data is clear for groceries and regular purchases. Will Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Tesco begin giving away free kitchen trash cans to consumers just to collect data and be optimally positioned for replenishment orders? Or even better what if your smart trash can was linked to your online grocery account? Items detected in your trash can (or recycling bin) could be automatically identified then transmitted to the garbage truck upon pickup at your house. A replenishment algorithm could review your list of “always in stock” items to determine if the item should be replaced immediately. If yes, then a home delivery provider might visit a few hours later to drop off new supplies on your doorstep. Amazon Fresh be extended to include Amazon Trash. Walmart might buy a waste management company. The Smart Trash Can could create a myriad of new opportunities in the supply chain.

Read More

OpenText Enhances Portfolio with Analytic Capabilities

    By Mark Barrenechea, President and Chief Executive Officer, OpenText Analytics are a hot technology today, and it is easy to see why. They have the power to transform facts into strategic insights that deliver intelligence “in the moment” for profound impact. Think “Moneyball” and the Oakland A’s in 2002, when Billy Bean hired a number-crunching statistician to examine their odds and changed the game of baseball forever. Across the board—from sports analysis to recommending friends to finding the best place to eat steak in town, analytics are replacing intelligence reports with algorithms that can predict behavior and make decisions. It can create that 1 percent advantage that creates the 100 percent difference between winning and losing. Analytics represent the next frontier in deriving value from information, which is why I’m pleased to announce that OpenText has recently acquired Actuate to enhance its portfolio of products. With powerful predictive analytics technology, Actuate complements our existing information management and B2B integration offerings by allowing organizations to analyze and visualize a broad range of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. In a recent study, 96 percent of organizations surveyed felt that analytics will become increasingly important to their organizations in the next three years. From a business perspective, analytics offer customers increased business process efficiencies, greater brand experience, and additional personalized insight for better and faster decisions. In a Digital-First World, organizations will tap into sophisticated analytics techniques to identify their best customers, accelerate product innovation, optimize supply chains, and identify the drivers of financial performance. Agile enterprises incorporate consumer and market data into decision making. People are empowered when they have easy access to agile, flexible, and responsive analytical tools and applications. Actuate enables developers to easily create business applications that leverage information about users, processes, and transactions generated by the various OpenText EIM suites. Customers will be able to view analytics for the entire EIM suite based on a common platform to reduce their total cost of ownership and get a comprehensive view for more elevated, strategic business insight. Actuate is the founder of the popular open source integrated development environment (IDE), BIRT, and develops the world-class deployment platform, BIRT iHub™. BIRT iHub™ significantly improves the productivity of developers working on customer-facing applications. More than 3.5 million BIRT developers and OEMs use Actuate to build scalable, secure solutions that deliver personalized analytics and insights to more than 200 million customers, partners and employees. Designed to be embeddable, developers can use the platform to enrich nearly any application. And, these analytics-enriched applications can be delivered on premises, in the cloud, or in any hybrid scenario. We are excited to welcome the Actuate team into the OpenText family as we continue to help drive innovation and offer the most complete EIM solution in the market. Read the press release on the acquisition here.

Read More

Regulatory Matters: The Year Ahead in Life Sciences

As I began to write this article to prognosticate on the year ahead, I recalled a Ladies’ Home Journal article from 1900, where an engineer named John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. predicted what life would be like in the year 2000. Surprisingly, many of his predictions, such as the use of cell phones, had actually become reality by 2000. Luckily, government regulations ensure a somewhat predictable rate of change making my job somewhat easier than Mr. Watkins’. But first, let’s take a quick look back at 2014… 2014 was a great year for life sciences, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. Forty-four drugs were approved by the FDA, an 18-year high. When compared to the dismal 27 approvals in 2013, there seems to be some much needed innovation occuring, especially considering the estimated $100 billion loss in patent protection this year. In 2015, the biggest challenge will remain to innovate and launch products faster while maintaining the highest degree of patient safety amidst increasing global regulatory scrutiny. The industry is poised to meet this challenge head on. In fact, seven drugs have already launched for 14 indications in January. At the heart of this challenge is to solve the dual Big Data and Quality problems. Every year, exabytes of data are being created within our industry. Digital technologies, such as remote monitoring and wearable devices, are only increasing the data points. However, data quality is a critical issue. Corporate data warehouses are rapidly becoming akin to landfills with ever growing piles of digital garbage obscuring the nuggets of information which can have a truly transformative effect on the business. I predict that, this year, much effort will be placed on developing and refining methodologies and technologies to make sense of the massive amounts of data generated by our industry. Improved statistical tools, real-time analytics and information exchange will yield important correlations and allow life science companies to discern which data and which process improvements enhance the business. In effect, quality processes and metrics will be applied to functions beyond manufactuing in building better models for everything from drug safety and efficacy to supply chain operations. For those companies with ECM and BPM platforms, incorporating new digital technologies into their workflows will dramatically improve their business but only if aligned with a solid EIM strategy based on industry best practice. For those companies without an EIM strategy, the time to move forward is now. Come hear how OpenText is helping global organizations to utilize information to transform their businesses at one of the Innovation Tour events near you. Keep innovating!

Read More

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

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

Read More

Today’s Media Management

The average 14-year-old kid will probably create more media by the time I finish this post than I will this year. It’s so simple to create and so necessary to communicate with these days. And therein lies the problem: The technology to create, contribute, and consume rich media has outpaced our ability to manage it. In today’s hyper-digital environment, where time is of the essence and the experience is what sells, your customers, partners, and buyers want video, pictures, and information in real-time—synchronized and delivered consistently to users on the platforms and devices they choose. So business , marketing, and competitive demands are pushing Digital Asset Management (DAM) and the digital supply chain beyond traditional approaches. We just can’t keep up using traditional methods! With multiple systems and applications trying to manage and control all these assets, things are falling through the cracks. Missing content. Missed opportunities. Lost productivity. Sigh… A Platform for Digital Asset Management OpenText Media Management is a DAM pioneer . (That’s funny every time!) From creation to consumption, we help you manage all your video, images, and rich media for the entire enterprise in one place. With a powerful yet simple-to-use interface, our solutions help people find what they need, share, collaborate, and use digital assets anywhere for richer, more effective communication in marketing, sales, and throughout the organization. Media Management makes it so easy to get the right content and rich experiences to users on the platforms and devices they choose. What’s new in Media Management? A completely redesigned user experience replaces the Flash UI with a simple yet powerful HTML5 user interface. This is much more than just a DAM—now you have unparalleled control and access to all your digital media content. The redesigned user experience in Media Management puts the digital content you want at your fingertips. Whether your typing or swiping, the simple and intuitive user interface makes your job easier. In Media Management, the HTML5 interface and responsive design reduces complexity and unnecessary clutter to find what you need, share data, collaborate on projects, and use digital assets anywhere, on any screen, including mobile and touch-enabled. There! Now how much rich media do you think that kid created?

Read More

Will the Creation of ‘On Device’ or ‘On Thing’ Based B2B Transactions Ever Become a Reality?

Over the past five years CIOs around the world have been rolling out their cloud based B2B strategies. Whether deploying B2B on premise, on cloud or as a hybrid environment, companies have been able to deploy B2B infrastructures according to their budget, strategy and technical capabilities. Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service initiatives have been deployed with great effect, and numerous other ‘as-a-Service’ definitions have evolved. So where next for B2B based infrastructures?, well with nearly every CIO formulating a strategy in support of the Internet of Things, how about an On Device or On Thing based B2B strategy? I have posted twenty or so blogs relating to cloud infrastructures since 2010 and over the past year I have spent some time looking at the Internet of Things and where this may go in relation to supply chains of the future.  In a couple of my IoT related blogs I provided some examples on how I thought IoT connected devices could connect into an enterprise infrastructure, (read about it here), and then initiate some form of closed loop ordering process as part of a replenishment or predictive maintenance scenario. I read an article on CIO.com last September where the author described something called the Internet of ‘Things as a Service’ or TaaS for short.  I didn’t realise it at the time of writing my own blogs but this is exactly what I was describing, namely a connected device will be able to analyse its own consumption trends or wear rates and then be able to place some form of order for replacement parts without any human intervention.  OK, sounds a bit far-fetched but I can guarantee this is where things, no pun intended, will be going in the future. Billions of dollars are being spent on developing onboard or embedded processing, sensing, storage and analytics based technologies for IoT based devices.  Many companies such as Intel are betting huge research budgets to develop next generation semi-conductor chips that can be embedded on ‘things’. In fact only last week, OpenText acquired a leading analytics company , and they have been looking at embedded analytics for IoT devices. I will take a look at embedded analytics in relation to B2B in a future blog entry as I believe it will transform how companies visualise, interact and manage B2B related information flowing across the extended enterprise. Two weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with ARC Advisory Group relating to device or ‘thing’ level creation of B2B transactions. ARC use the term Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to describe their take on this area as they are keen to differentiate themselves from more consumer focused IoT devices such as wearable technology and home automation equipment. As I have mentioned before there are many big players entering the IIoT space, for example GE (who originally coined the IIoT term), Cisco and Bosch to name but a few. Could we see a piece of equipment in the field, for example a generator or excavator, initiating a B2B transaction by itself to order a replacement part that is just about to fail? For the purposes of this blog I just wanted to introduce the idea of a device or ‘thing’ derived B2B transaction and you can read more in the ARC article that was written to support this.  

Read More