Streamlining Prescription Fulfillment with Automatic Capture Technology


Many retail pharmacies utilize fax documents as part of their prescription fulfilment processes. With that, typical processing delays associated with manually handling incoming fax documents and rekeying the embedded information into backend systems arise regularly. Based on the last blog post, we know automatic capture technology can be very beneficial here, particularly in receiving inbound prescription fulfillment forms from various fax input sources in multiple formats. Yet there are other value-added services pharmacy organizations can implement in conjunction with automatic capture to drive automated fax message processing end-to-end. See a sample diagram below: The process flow is a real-world example of a “before and after” scenario in which a major retailer used automatic capture on the front end of a process, and integrated value-added fax messaging services (such as document workflow) throughout. Automating fax processes this way optimized the fulfilment of patient prescriptions. To read the story in its entirety please access this case study outlining the business problem and implemented solution behind the improved process illustrated above. Of course to get an overview of automatic capture technology’s impact on business critical processes involving fax, visit

Read More

Exploring iHub Examples – First in a Series

There’s a big-box retail store not far from the OpenText Analytics office in San Mateo, California. Some of us (ahem) have been known to visit there at lunchtime to score free samples for lunch. And why not? Most people like to get something of value for free. If you download the 45-day free trial of OpenText Information Hub (iHub), you know the feeling. Not only do you get to try out a full-featured version of the software for free, but you’re also given a number of free sample applications that preview some of the software’s remarkable capabilities. To help you steer your cart around the wide aisles to find the good stuff, we have prepared a series of blog posts exploring what each sample apps is and what you should look for when you use it. We’ll count on you to imagine how the capability it demonstrates could be used in your organization. One other thing: You and your development team can learn a lot more about how these sample apps are constructed – and how they work – by exploring them in Analytics Designer, the free companion design tool for iHub. Brian Combs has published a step-by-step guide to help you do this. Finding the Samples When you launch iHub the first time you’re greeted with a main screen showing just one item: an HTML file called Examples. Click on it and you’ll see the Sample Content screen below – it’s your jumping-off point for all of the samples. (screenshot) The first sample we’ll explore is labeled Other Applications and can be found in the upper-right corner of the Sample Content screen. Click it and you’ll see three sample visualizations and one dashboard.  These samples (and others) are based on Classic Models or SF Wealth, two of the sample databases that come with iHub. They all present data in a clean, uncluttered format that invites further exploration. Customer Revenue Metrics What it is: A report with a bar chart, a table of top customers (with scorecard arrows showing trends), and pie and bar charts that break out revenue in different ways. What to look for: All of the elements of this report are interactive, so alter them to see what happens. For example, you can change the date range in the bar chart three different ways: by clicking the Zoom setting (upper left), by typing dates in the “from” and “to” boxes, or by moving the slider below the chart. (Modify one of these controls and the other two change in response.) Now click on any bar in the top bar chart for details on a single month. Next, hover over any segment of the pie chart; when a data point pops up, click on it for more detail. Client Investment Portfolio What it is: In essence, this is a periodic statement – like the one you might get from your investment advisor or broker – on steroids. What to look for: This report is an ideal place to explore the power of iHub’s Interactive Viewer. Click the menu button in the upper left corner of the report and select Enable Interactivity. Then click on %Change (the sixth column) and extra controls will appear to filter, sort, and otherwise modify the table. You can use these to sort the entire table based on a single parameter. (When you do this, the right column of the table – with its red and green tags that display the data in scorecard style – will sort accordingly.) Enabling Interactivity unlocks a wide range of capabilities that vary depending on the data or visualization you’re working with. One other thing: click the name of one of the stocks in the portfolio (such as Coca Cola Company), and a new tab will open with the Yahoo Finance page for that asset. This shows how reports in iHub can seamlessly connect with external assets. Top Sales Performers What it is: A ton of data about salespeople, presented in a compact, efficient format. What to look for: While your eye may be drawn to the radar chart at the top of the first page, a sales manager might find the sub-tables under the chart more compelling. These tables demonstrate how complex, multi-layered data can be aggregated and organized in a number of different ways: The salespeople are ranked, and their total sales are calculated. Within that level of organization, each salesperson’s top customers and top products are listed in order. This type of consolidated, interactive information is invaluable to people who manage large, distributed sales forces. Customer Sales Dashboard What it is: A basic interactive dashboard of sales data. What to look for: One big distinction between dashboards and reports is the presence of selectors on dashboards. In this simple example, the selectors are on the left, labeled Sales Territories, Customer Countries, and Year. Click on any element within those selectors and watch the data visualizations (also called Gadgets) on the dashboard respond. Now look at the Historical Revenue Analysis gadget in the lower right corner of the dashboard. If you find it difficult to distinguish between individual data lines in the graph, click the triangle in the gadget’s upper-right corner and choose Maximize. The graph now fills the screen for easier exploration. Next Up In our next blog post in this series, we will walk you through the example called Integration Framework. Geared toward ISVs, this example showcases various capabilities iHub provides for embedding content within an application.   photo courtesy of Sarah Murray

Read More

Expanding the Banking Universe with a Mobile-Only Play

Millennial Disruption

Mobile phones continue to help break new ground in the world of Banking. A very interesting example is called Atom Bank, which is in the United Kingdom today, or is it everywhere? Atom Bank was recently awarded a banking license and plans to commence their operations later this year. They have already raised around 25 million pounds (about $39 million). So why is this so interesting and different? Atom Bank will operate only through a mobile app. That is right, they just have an app. Of course there will be no branches, and they will not have a website initially. This is a strange strategy as how will customers be able to find them unless they read my blogs? They claim that customers will be able to open accounts and carry out all their banking activity using only a smartphone. The also said they want to “set new standards for the banking sector” when it comes to technology. Well this matches quite well to what Millennials are thinking about innovation in banking coming from technology companies, not from banks. Viacom Media Networks did research and came up with the Millennial Disruption Index, which is copied below. Notice that 33 percent of Millennials do not think they will ever need a bank, and nearly half are counting on technology start-ups to overhaul the way banks work. Talk about supply meeting demand, and here comes Atom Bank. Or maybe they should be called Atom Software, the smartphone technology company with an app. Banking on Mobile Source: Viacom Media Research Atom is the latest in a string of technology companies shaking up the banking industry. Who would have thought that Apple would create a payment service a la PayPal? It has certainly done well so far. Anybody know a user or two of Venmo, the under 30 set’s current favorite to make small payments to each other? This is not futuristic; they already exist and work well today. So, will Atom Bank be what Millennials are longing for? Well there are a few challenges, or what we might call complexities. They will need to work with a regular retail bank for mundane things like checking and cash deposits. I don’t know if they will be responsible for Know your Customer (KYC) or will have deposit limits or concern themselves about anti-money laundering and SARS (Suspicious Activity Reports). Perhaps the brick-and-mortar bank they plan to partner with will do the heavy compliance lifting for them. Since Atom Bank is all about a high quality customer experience with a smartphone, they are certainly addressing what Millennials are looking for. They are not yet sharing all aspects of what they plan to do, as they said they do not want to assist potential competitors. They did announce that they will have biometric security, 3D visualizations and gaming technology. Sounds like fun! An app on your smart phone will do all of that? Mobile phones, now smartphones, have come a long way. Even if all of this works as planned and Atom Bank is very successful, they will have fierce competitors from startups as well as established organizations. But if they capture the hearts, minds and bank accounts of the Millennials before others do, they will be very successful and the reality of the Millennial Disruption Index will become even more obvious.

Read More

Enterprise Mobility: Are you an Enabler?


Seventy three percent of the world’s population uses mobile phones, more than 5.2 billion people around the globe. The majority of millennials say that their smartphone never leaves their side, 24×7. This is just the tip of a mobility movement that promises to intensify in the future. How is this consumer behavior impacting enterprise mobility? Range of Mobility Responses For some enterprises, mobility means issuing cell phones to employees and ensuring the devices are managed and secured. Other enterprises load iPads and iPhones for their sales force with productivity solutions like travel planning and expense reporting. Enterprises like car rental companies and 3rd party logistics companies, have been giving their field operations specialized mobile capabilities for decades. Mobility has been embraced by the public sector as well, from social case workers to first responders to law enforcement officers, mobile solutions are decreasing response time and even saving lives. “With only a few taps on a smartphone screen magical things happen – laws, services, records and processes turn into something very simple and user friendly.” – City of Barcelona Entire business models are being disrupted by mobile. When mobile devices are integrated with critical business processes, and especially with information flows focused on the customer, mobility raises to whole new level of importance for the enterprise. Think of Uber the taxi alternative that couldn’t have existed without the upsurge in mobile. The Insurance industry will never be the same, with turnarounds for P&E claim settlement dropping dramatically with the integration of mobile. New payment approaches like Square have been spawned by mobile. And there are a whole new set of retail buying behaviors because of mobile. Superior Customer Experience The mobile experience has of course much to do with responsive web design and omni-channel enterprise enablers, but it is also being driven by the proliferation of awesome mobile apps. These apps serve up both consumer and enterprise mobility solutions. A study published by Compuware found that the majority of mobile users prefer apps over web sites; however, only 28 percent said apps offer a better user experience than sites. De veloping an effective enterprise app strategy is no longer a luxury for the mobile enterprise. I had an interesting first hand experience just this week. I am an OpenText Core user and had originally signed up and begun using it through my desktop. Perhaps I’m not totally objective, but it has a great customer experience, easy to use and great collaboration features in the cloud. Earlier this week I received a Core email notification about a document I had been collaborating on and I was mobile at the time. I clicked through the link on my iPhone and was asked if I wanted to download the Core app. I did and it was quick and easy – I was viewing the document almost instantly on my mobile and able to respond to keep the flow going. All About that App? The inflection point for becoming a mobile enterprise, as with any technology disruption, is different for different industries. What is clear at this point is that enterprises need to be mobility enablers. For now, a mix of responsive design solutions and apps seems like a good balanced approach. There will be more on the latest mobility trends and solutions at Enterprise World 2015. Hope to see you there! Author’s Note: Lest we forget… the world of mobile is not just phones and tablets, specialty devices especially wearables are also becoming an integral part of our enterprise ecosystems. Check out this post on the possible future for the iWatch and the supply chain. Image Source: Shutterstock_173233781

Read More

Digital Banking – What is happening in other industries? (part 1 of 3)


The Financial Services industry as a whole – Payment and Cash Management especially – suffers from not learning and not re-using other industries’ ideas and best practices. As an anecdote, my current role focusses on one hand spending time with Banks and Financial institution, on the other hand with Corporate Treasurers. I still find myself explaining to Bankers on a regular basis procure-to-pay and order-to-cash cycles, getting surprised reactions when they realise they are just an “end” process to a supply chain process (I kid you not!). While generally speaking Banks understand their customers’ needs, individuals lack some basic working knowledge of their clients’ business or practical implications of a Banking relationship. The most regular occurrence of this “knowledge gap” I witness is around the Digital Transformation. Everybody talks about it, everyone has their own definition in Financial Services, however very few people really understand how non-Financial Institutions have already seized the opportunity. Yes, some Bankers are trying to re-invent the wheel as you read these lines. What is a Digital Business? A digital business is more than just a business with digital products that are distributed electronically: it’s a business in which digital technology is both pervasive and central to its overall success. A digital business is created using digital assets and/or capabilities, involving digital products, services and customer experiences, and is conducted through digital channels and communities. In a digital business, the majority of processes are digitized. This means that all along the value chain—from the creation of products and services to their consumption—employees, consumers, partners, and processes are reliant on digital technology for easy access to information, constant connectivity, and immediacy of insight. A digital business is characterized by an open, flexible value chain. In the transition to a digital business, organizations need to re-envision their business not as a standalone entity with a linear value chain, but as part of an extended enterprise ecosystem of suppliers from which customers assemble products and services according to their needs. Organizations need to participate in these ecosystems to deliver value to customers. By positioning products and services in the context of the customer’s value system, a digital business can grow its capabilities, leverage the capabilities of others, and open up new revenue streams. As part of a larger ecosystem, companies are more equipped to quickly pivot their operations to add customization or deliver new products to satisfy consumer need. They can scale their manufacturing capacity and shift geographies as needed to fill a specific order. In the future, these ecosystems will consist of low-cost suppliers and virtual manufacturers, be global in nature, and serve niche industries that span nations. Innovation will occur in hyper-drive, propelled forward by digital product development and marketing. Digital technologies enable new business models that are dynamic, flexible, and deliver value to both businesses and customers. Before we examine how the enterprise can reinvent itself, it would be helpful to examine the circumstances that are driving the enterprise toward digital transformation. The nature of digital technology Digital technologies enable new businesses models that are dynamic, flexible, and deliver value to both businesses and customers. Central to digital transformation is the ability to facilitate direct, peer-to-peer communication, collaboration, and sharing, without requiring an intermediary. This ability is already reshaping business as we know it. By providing direct, unrestricted access to information, knowledge, and resources, digital technologies empower individuals in ways not previously possible or even imaginable. Anyone with a web-enabled device can connect to a global network of expertise. They can discover individuals with common interests and goals. They can share ideas, collaborate, and innovate. They can band together and have their voice heard, counted, and taken seriously by those in positions of influence. And they can access new channels for manufacturing, marketing, and selling, and work with business partners located anywhere in the world. As individuals are empowered with new ways of working, traditional channels—and those who control them—will hold less importance. An inventor, for example, no longer needs to license their product idea for pennies on the dollar to a manufacturer. They can prototype the product with three-dimensional (3-D) printing. They can “crowdfund” capital costs using the Internet (collecting small amounts of capital from family, friends, or members in their online community). They can market globally through inexpensive and accessible online channels, sell through a digital storefront, manufacture small batches or distribute digitally. All this can be done in ways that are faster and cheaper and deliver new value to the customer. In shifting power and influence away from traditional sources, digital technologies are introducing opportunity to the masses. Businesses must acknowledge, respond to, and allow digital technologies to transform their operations from the inside out if they want to stay competitive and relevant in a digital-first world. Demands of the digital customer An increasingly connected consumer and the widespread adoption of digital technology has created the digital customer. Internet-based retail is growing globally at a rate of 19 percent year over year and, as more consumers move online, they are using the Internet to discover products, gather and evaluate information, and engage the buyer online for purchasing and shipping. An increasing number of channels are offering customers convenience, flexibility, and choice. They expect immediate gratification and engaging experiences that satisfy. The digital enterprise will support the omni-channel delivery of goods and services to compete and satisfy their customers. We have entered the “Age of the Customer”—an age in which digital technology has empowered the customer and shifted the balance of purchasing power from suppliers to customers. Consumers now have the ability to extract price, quality, and service concessions from the world’s most powerful brands. What used to differentiate the enterprise—economies of scale, distribution strength, and brand—have faded in importance. In their place, customer obsession is what gives firms dominance and drives their competitive advantage. For digital business, customer experience does not outweigh the need for operational excellence. In the second part of this blog, we’ll cover more drivers and practical examples of how other industries and non-Financial Services businesses approach the Digital world. We’ll cove the Generation Z, how non-FS businesses manage Operational Agility and deal with global competition and regulatory pressures.

Read More

OpenText Connectivity Suite Links Legacy Infrastructure With Modern Interfaces

Large enterprises face an interesting challenge. Their mission-critical applications run on high-performing IBM mainframes, Linux and UNIX servers, and even AS/400s ─ housed safely and securely in the data center. But these applications are accessed by users on Windows-based PCs, or in some cases expensive UNIX terminals. (The original terminals designed for some mainframe applications were long ago replaced by desktop computers.) Of course, Microsoft Windows was not designed for a mainframe environment or for UNIX/Linux applications. This is the conundrum. Running Windows-based terminal emulation software is the obvious solution for connecting desktop computers to applications and data located in the data center, on mainframe and UNIX servers. Unfortunately, not all terminal emulators are created equal. And in many cases, vendors in the space are no longer updating or supporting their software. So where do these organizations turn when they want a high quality, customizable emulation environment that is continually being supported and updated with new functionality, features, and with support for the latest security protocols and operating systems? And what about businesses ─ in engineering, retail, financial services or manufacturing, for example – that need to connect their Windows desktops to remote X Window applications? Many enterprise software applications are written for UNIX and Linux, and organizations need to provide a Windows-based remote connection for their users. Security, reliability and performance are absolutely vital for these businesses, so the software that manages the Windows to X Window interface must be fast, secure and reliable. Which software vendor meets these standards? Easy: OpenText. There’s a reason organizations choose our latest OpenText Connectivity suite. It is the most robust remote access solution for both modern and legacy environments. Better yet, we’re committed to continuing our decades-long investment in product development and R&D for this suite. With enhanced security and performance for easier, faster connections with greater protection of sensitive data on open networks, we are incredibly pleased to provide you the remote access solution your organization needs. Here are just some of the great new features we’re excited to introduce: Certified for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Citrix Ready for XenApp The latest security with SSH, SSL, Kerberos, and X.509 authentication to secure your information across open-networks Support for FIPS 201 Smart Card authentication Updated look and feel for Windows 7 and 8 environments including touch screen and gesture support Faster than ever performance for both 2D and 3D X Window (OpenGL) applications The most accurate and reliable Windows X Server on the market Find out about all these new features in Connectivity version 15 by visiting our website!

Read More

Introducing the Latest Version of the OpenText Connectivity Suite

Large enterprises face an interesting challenge. Their mission-critical applications run on high-performing IBM mainframes, Linux and UNIX servers, and even AS/400s ─ housed safely and securely in the data center. But these applications are accessed by users on Windows-based PCs, or in some cases expensive UNIX terminals. (The original terminals designed for some mainframe applications were long ago replaced by desktop computers.) Of course, Microsoft Windows was not designed for a mainframe environment or for UNIX/Linux applications. This is the conundrum. Running Windows-based terminal emulation software is the obvious solution for connecting desktop computers to applications and data located in the data center, on mainframe and UNIX servers. Unfortunately, not all terminal emulators are created equal. And in many cases, vendors in the space are no longer updating or supporting their software. So where do these organizations turn when they want a high quality, customizable emulation environment that is continually being supported and updated with new functionality, features, and with support for the latest security protocols and operating systems? And what about businesses─ in engineering, retail, financial services or manufacturing, for example – that need to connect their Windows desktops to remote X Window applications? Many enterprise software applications are written for UNIX and Linux, and organizations need to provide a Windows-based remote connection for their users. Security, reliability and performance are absolutely vital for these businesses, so the software that manages the Windows to X Window interface must be fast, secure and reliable. Which software vendor meets these standards? Easy: OpenText. There’s a reason organizations choose our latest OpenText™ Connectivity suite. It is the most robust remote access solution for both modern and legacy environments. Better yet, we’re committed to continuing our decades-long investment in product development and R&D for this suite. With enhanced security and performance for easier, faster connections with greater protection of sensitive data on open networks, we are incredibly pleased to provide you the remote access solution your organization needs. Here are just some of the great new features we’re excited to introduce: Certified for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Citrix Ready™ for XenApp The latest security with SSH, SSL, Kerberos, and X.509 authentication to secure your information across open-networks Support for FIPS 201 Smart Card authentication Updated look and feel for Windows 7 and 8 environments Faster than ever performance for both 2D and 3D X Window (OpenGL) applications The most accurate and reliable Windows X Server on the market Find out about all these new features in Connectivity version 15 by visiting our website.

Read More

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


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

Musings on Prospects for Real-Time Payments in the US

As I sit in my office in Massachusetts after shoveling out from the 8th snowstorm in six weeks (but who is counting?), I have begun to wonder whether now is the time to simply declare that all banking going forward shall be digital. Just as our Commonwealth’s new Governor banned all street traffic except for emergency vehicles for several days in late January, perhaps the Federal Reserve Bank should declare a permanent ban on all financial transactions involving paper except for emergencies. No paper checks, no paper deposits, no paper loan documents, no signature cards, etc. OK, maybe this is a little bit extreme but being stuck at home for days at a time over a six week period can result in some out of the box thinking. As we enter the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, what is clear is that in many ways, we are still living with 20th century infrastructure. Whether it is roads and bridges, public transportation, or archaic banking practices and systems, we need to stop taking a band-aid approach to our problems and recognize that world around us has changed. A perfect example of this is the slow but hopeful progress being made toward the development of a modern retail payment system in the United States. With the Federal Reserve System and at least part of the banking industry in the form of The Clearing House announcing support for a real-time electronic payment system, we have an opportunity to finally break the bonds of the past and join many other countries that have already made this investment. It’s time to stop talking and start acting. What is holding us back? Some banks are stuck on how to make the business case: they are in denial about the future of payments given the investment by non-bank providers and evolving consumer preferences. The cost of replacing batch-oriented systems that were developed decades ago and are still being used by almost all banks to process payments is a hurdle. Some industry participants are hung up on how to support the small percentage of the population that doesn’t have the access or interest in real-time payments, a percentage that shrinks every day. Trade associations and payment system operators have a perceived vested interest in the status quo. Merchants and large corporations are already overwhelmed with the multitude of new payment systems being introduced by banks and technology companies. Consumer and business adoption of technology is radically changing expectations about the fundamental role of banks in society. Payment processing is at the heart of the traditional role of banks: being a trusted intermediary of financial value. But payment processing in 2015 and in the future is also at the heart of the new role of banks: being a secure and convenient intermediary of financial value and data. If banks don’t hurry to embrace this new role, they will eventually be relegated to the role of the payments provider of last resort. The post Musings on Prospects for Real-Time Payments in the US appeared first on All About B2B.

Read More

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


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

Musings on Digital Payments From Snow Country

As I sit in my office in Massachusetts after shoveling out from the 8th snowstorm in six weeks (but who is counting?), I have begun to wonder whether now is the time to simply declare that all banking going forward shall be digital.  Just as our Commonwealth’s new Governor banned all street traffic except for emergency vehicles for several days in late January, perhaps the Federal Reserve Bank should declare a permanent ban on all financial transactions involving paper except for emergencies. No paper checks, no paper deposits, no paper loan documents, no signature cards, etc. OK, maybe this is a little bit extreme but being stuck at home for days at a time over a six week period can result in some out of the box thinking.  As we enter the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, what is clear is that in many ways, we are still living with 20th-century infrastructure.  Whether it is roads and bridges, public transportation, or archaic banking practices and systems, we need to stop taking a band-aid approach to our problems and recognize that world around us has changed. A perfect example of this is the slow but hopeful progress being made toward the development of a modern retail payment system in the United States. With the Federal Reserve System and at least part of the banking industry in the form of The Clearing House announcing support for a real-time electronic payment system, we have an opportunity to finally break the bonds of the past and join many other countries that have already made this investment.  It’s time to stop talking and start acting. What is holding us back?  Some banks are stuck on how to make the business case:  they are in denial about the future of payments given the investment by non-bank providers and evolving consumer preferences.  The cost of replacing batch-oriented systems that were developed decades ago are still being used by almost all banks to process payments is a hurdle.  Some industry participants are hung up on how to support the small percentage of the population that doesn’t have the access or interest in real-time payments, a percentage that shrinks every day. Trade associations and payment system operators have a perceived vested interest in the status quo. Merchants and large corporations are already overwhelmed with the multitude of new payment systems being introduced by banks and technology companies. Consumer and business adoption of technology is radically changing expectations about the fundamental role of banks in society. Payment processing is at the heart of the traditional role of banks: being a trusted intermediary of financial value.  But payment processing in 2015 and in the future is also at the heart of the new role of banks: being a secure and convenient intermediary of financial value and data.  If banks don’t hurry to embrace this new role, they will eventually be relegated to the role of the payments provider of last resort. Susan Feinberg is a Financial Services Consultant with OpenText focused on Corporate Banking and Payments. Photo courtesy of

Read More

How to Use Data Visualization to Improve Your Customer Communications

Financial services, retail, utility and government organizations are all looking for ways to make their customer communications more engaging and effective, in order to obtain an advantage in dealing with their customers. But customers today get plenty of communications from organizations. The key to using customer communications to improve your brand is to cut through the clutter and be noticed. Using data visualization with your communications can be a distinctive advantage for your business. Customer communications include statements, correspondence, bills, invoices and even advertising or flyers. Statements can contain financial information, cell phone usage, utility data or retail buying patterns. Customer communications can be delivered in multiple channels, and multiple formats including on the web, in emails, on smart phones and tablets and even in paper format. In a previous blog post, we talked about personalizing and targeting the messages to your customers. In this post, we will examine how data visualization will give you a more effective communication and a better likelihood of engaging with your customers. Using Dynamic Data Visualization Everyone knows about using charts and graphs on customer statements. Anyone with an investment, banking or credit card account can see that organizations have added pie charts and trending graphs to help the customers view their spending or savings allocations and trends. There are three ways this concept can be enhanced by unlocking the full value of the data stored in the customer statement. Provide interactive access to your statements Provide larger amounts of data to reference Provide cross referenced data to other accounts and external data sources. Let’s take a look at each of these ideas. Interactivity Customer statements are the proven source of truth, or statement of record, for a customer’s interactions with the organization. By taking your customer’s statement, translating it online to a secure web site, and then allowing the customer to view dashboards and dynamically interact with statement data, you provide the ultimate in convenience and customization. A customer can monitor and view summaries of transactions, filter and sort them, search for specific transaction information, categorize and develop sub-totals based on the data and even view the data in charts and/or graphs. Allowing the customer to view and interact with the statement will provide more insight, problem solving and customer engagement with your statement. This may even lead to the customer solving previously unanswered problems. Large Data Samples Let’s expand the scope of the interactive statement by expanding the time period for the archived and dormant content stored in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system or document archive. This will facilitate delivering more insights, over a longer period of time and provide a different perspective on the data. By providing more data, you provide the ability to look at trends and to analyze information in a meaningful way. Multiple Sources of Content Along with more data history, you may provide external data and data from other systems, to complement your interactive statement. The value of bringing in data from other systems allows your customers to analyze activity across their accounts. For example, you could compare and contrast your variable mortgage payments to your credit card purchases. Or you could compare your mortgage payments to outside data, such as the interest rate. The benefits to the consumer are obvious. More data, solving more problems, will provide better knowledge to your customers and a competitive advantage over your competitors. With these concepts, organizations can use their customer communications to provide useful information to their customers, and further engage and interact with them.

Read More

How a Digital Media Platform Can Improve Your Customer’s Experience

Published By Samantha Warnes We welcome our Industry Insights retail expert, Samantha Warnes.You can watch her whiteboard presentation to better understand the importance of digital media across your business. From the example of a retail customer journey, Samantha walks through the steps you can take to build a digital platform that will enable you to increase value and improve your customer’s experience.

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

Why Location Intelligence is Critical to Your App


Anytime I’m standing in front of a directory map at the mall, my eyes initially navigate that little red dot that screams, “You are here!” As a consumer, it’s important to get your bearings before navigating through endless choices. Retailers also want to know where I am – if I fit their target demographic – because they want to attract me to their stores. The ability to track a customer’s location and pinpoint opportunities to upsell or cross-sell through analytics is shown to improve customer engagement and brand loyalty. So, can location-based technology combined with embedded analytics create a perfect storm for companies that want to increase customer engagement and improve revenue opportunities? Experts like John Hadl, Venture Partner at USVP and founder of mobile advertising agency Brand in Hand, say yes. “Location is the critical component that allows marketers to spend their mobile marketing dollars effectively,” notes Hadl. Location-based technology and data analytics, used together, are often called “location intelligence.” Location intelligence improves the customer experience by allowing companies to visualize, analyze and track partnerships, sales, customers and prospects, according to research from consulting firm Pitney Bowes. Having both a person’s location and their relevant information sets the stage for some innovative approaches to customer experience. Location Intelligence Meets Business Intelligence Research shows that user interest in specific location intelligence features grew almost across the board in the last year. According to the Dresner Advisory Services’ 2015 Location Intelligence Market Study, the most important location intelligence features for users are map-based visualization of information, drill-down navigation, and maps  embedded in dashboards. “From the supplier standpoint, we see vendors having a mixed view of the significance of Location Intelligence, with an increasing number this year saying it has critical importance,” writes Howard Dresner (pictured below). “Industry support is only somewhat aligned with user priorities for Location Intelligence features and geocoding, but GIS [Geographic Information Systems] integration and mobile feature support are well aligned.” The report, which is part of Dresner’s Wisdom of Crowds survey series, also notes that sales and marketing departments are most apt to believe location intelligence will impact their jobs. Other findings include: Compared to 2014, location intelligence use is driving farther down organizational ranks. Respondents’ highest priority is the ability to map locations of province/state, country, and postal codes. Governments, along with the retail and wholesale segment, are most interested in discrete geocoding features.  One challenge for organizations that hope to take advantage of location intelligence – aside from being precise – is the ability to map location data to the data set. Embedded analytics might be the solution to this obstacle. Daily Coffee, Chock Full of Data Let’s look at how location intelligence works: In San Francisco you can’t walk more than a block or two before you hit some type of specialty coffee business  (and yes, Starbucks does qualify). But all specialty coffee is not the same, and each neighborhood, because of its population, can provide different opportunities and potentially unique user experiences. As you can see from the infographic below, analysts from Pitney Bowes using CAMEO software determined that residents in San Francisco’s Sunset District represent a cosmopolitan suburbanite who typically engage best with exotic coffee selections and ample space to turn around a stroller. Hipsters living near San Francisco’s Financial District are more likely to attend art shows or poetry readings, so they would prefer a coffee experience tailored to a mid-afternoon espresso and a late-evening mocha. A mobile app can help these users find these ideal coffee experiences. Several coffee companies have them; they use embedded GPS information to help customers find their coffee – and often, to help the coffee find the customers as well. Blending location information with demographic data helps baristas provide customers with an improved experience. For more thoughts on how embedded analytics plays a major part in location intelligence, check out our series of discussions about the new business intelligence. And, of course, subscribe to this blog for all the latest thinking about embedded analytics. (Infographic courtesy of Pitney Bowes and Cameo)

Read More

Analytics – Improve Your Customer Communications

Financial services, retail, utility and government organizations are all looking for an edge in communicating with their customers. Customers today get plenty of communications, and the trick to engaging them with your brand and your products is to cut through the clutter and be noticed. Using analytics to target your customer communications is a key way to do this. Customer communications include statements, correspondence, bills, invoices and even advertising or flyers. Customer communications can be delivered through multiple channels, and in multiple formats – on the web, in emails, on smart phones and tablets and in paper format. The key is to personalize and target your messages to your customers. This will help your communications be noticed and perhaps even acted upon. In this blog post, we will look at how to use predictive analytics to improve your customer communications. In the next post, we will take a look at how data visualizations and reporting in customer communications can improve the experience for your customers. Using Predictive Analytics Predictive analytics takes mounds of data, reveals trends, and transforms data into information. This information can come from a number of sources that include the user’s web or physical navigation patterns, their buying history, reaction to the previously presented offers, and relevant demographic information. The information from these sources can be used to target customers through physical or electronic communications with them. Examples of such targeting include: Placing a personalized ad on a banking statement that provides specific information on products and services for a specific customer, based on their demographic, family, financial and risk profiles. Using segmentation to develop targeted emails for different consumers, based on their historic buying patterns (physical or electronic in origin) with a retail organization. Analyzing engagement history and using this information to determine a course of communications with customers who appear to be disengaging from the brand and may eventually move away from the brand. Determining what the next purchase is for an individual, based on past history, and presenting an offer or coupon to the customer to encourage sales and loyalty. With relevant communications, customers do not feel their time is wasted; they will develop a positive image of your brand, and they will continue to engage with it.

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

Banking & PSD2: The Oscars Nominations for Biggest Disruptors are…

Similar to the Academy Awards official nominations, I’m sure you already have a good idea of the personalities that drew everyone’s attention in the Banking and Payments industry. Let’s open the envelope and nominate the most disruptive artefacts of the Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) from a Bank perspective. And the nominees are… Payments Initiation Services and Account Information Services From a commercial, legal, technical and operational perspective, Payment Initiation Services is introduced as a new obligation for Banks and traditional Payment Services Suppliers. The idea is to allow third-party companies (also regulated under the PSD2) to make payments on behalf of traditional bank clients. This is the result of the growing number of payment outfits in the marketplace, doing─until now─fairly unregulated business and operating within the scope of their own creativity and commercial objectives. PSD2 puts a framework around that, with the consequence of carving out the traditional business of Banks’ Payments and Cash Management, as we know it today. Account Information Services is the corollary of the first concept. It is the second nominee of our ceremony, as it also opens the market for competition and innovation. While Payment Initiation Services is largely “acting on behalf of the ultimate account owner”, Account Information Services is basically allowing third parties to act as aggregators across a number of banks, in terms of transaction visibility, reporting and all the traditional processes. The growing trend with corporates (wholesale banking) is the migration of treasury processes into the cloud with Payment Services Providers (PSPs) and historical treasury technology vendors, to optimize payments and cash management as an overlay to traditional Bank services. Account Information Services now puts a legal framework around this example. PSD2 is also largely designed to cover the same principles and benefits to the retail banking world. Low Hanging Fruits for Transaction Banking Clearly, the PSD2 will have a number of variations in transposed domestic laws, opening the gates to various rules, processes and technical standards. Across all of the impacted Bank functions, Transaction Services will pick up a lot more scope and business logic. I believe that minimizing and “protecting” back-office platforms from direct PSD2 impacts is the first point to consider. The aftereffect to this idea is the introduction of or fully leveraging Digital Banking. For those who still haven’t heard about Digital Banking, the idea is to separate the way Bank clients consume the services electronically from the way banking products, platforms and processes within the Bank are physically deployed. I wrote about Digital Banking in a previous blog. The low hanging fruits to deliver on the Payment Initiation Service as well as Account Information Services are: Digitize the Banking channels, enabling it to normalize client or third party data (payments, reporting, “act on behalf”, message types). This typically includes data normalization, file mapping, enrichment and transformation. Identify where pre-PSD2 processes in the middle and back-office systems can be maintained. The expansion of KYC rules, client-third party relations and reconciliation processes can help normalize all PSD2 flows from the technical foundations of the Bank. Operational client community and reference data management. Above and beyond KYC and sales data, it becomes an imperative to keep track of the entire detailed inventory of client integration reference data, settings, file types and envelopes, certificates, “act on behalf” mandates, etc. The Business As Usual (BAU teams) from Transaction Banking will need to keep track of multi-layered business and technical relationships. Ensure all access controls, identity management; auditing, reconciliations, and transaction management reflect the multi-layered model. Minimum Compliance vs. Commercial Strategy As of today, in early 2015 some European Banks have started to get ahead of the curve by spinning-off their own independent “third-party PI” brand, to compete within and maintain their share of the PSP market. This is very apparent in the Nordics and Germany. On the other end of the spectrum, the majority of banks are “hatching down”, bracing themselves with the minimum compliance approach. Minimum compliance is basically fixing the new gaps opened by PSD2, largely around security, KYC and electronic banking. Entering the “third-party PSP world” as a new or independent brand─a Bank joint venture, a spin-off, or a subsidiary─is the only way to keep or expand one’s market share. A few smart European Banks have chosen the most aggressive strategy, by executing a “land grab” from other Banks who chose minimum compliance. A Final Observation My personal take on PSD2 is that some Banks are wearing the scars of the financial and emotional investment into SEPA, still fresh in everyone’s minds. PSD2 looks like a further tightening of the bolts, when it actually introduces more disruption to the Banking business than SEPA did. When disruption comes, an organization can either do nothing or fully embrace it and ride the waves.

Read More

Data Driven Summit – Embedded Apps and the Internet of Things [Video]


By the end of 2014, there will be more mobile phones on the planet than humans. So, how will we harness these devices to better inform and connect users to their information? And what do we need to consider to truly deliver insights “to everyone, everywhere?” Actuate’s VP of BIRT Solutions, Pierre Tessier (@PuckPuck) set out to answer some of these questions during Data Driven Summit 2014 – Actuate’s annual series of customer events. Tessier’s session outlined the latest thinking around mobile and embedded apps, including what’s possible when it comes to delivering visualizations on non-traditional platforms. The backdrop of this discussion is the explosion of mobile apps and sensors creating new data sources. Businesses of all sizes are looking to third parties to develop tools that help sort through this deluge of data and provide insight. Smart app developers embed these third-party tools into a seamless customer experience. Tessier first outlined the four primary ways that companies are approaching mobile development: Native, Mobile Web, Hybrid and Native/Hybrid. Of course the development of mobile applications – including tapping into the Internet of Things – must be appropriate for today’s data consumer. “It’s clear they are mobile-first, so we need to strive for being relevant, proactive and timely in our interactions,” Tessier said during his presentation. “From a development perspective, we also need to look to reuse, automate and embed this data.” When data components are centralized, it’s easier to create and send automatic alerts to a wearable device (a Samsung or Apple watch, for example) based on location, preference or other events. (See this scenario in action in a demonstration presented by Tessier and Mark Gamble.) Alerts are great for connecting to consumers as they interact with brand assets like display ads or retail locations. Data connects users to your brand via apps and experiences. This capability ranked very high on industry expert Howard Dresner’s latest embedded business intelligence report. “Embedding analytics and insights within non-traditional devices is a huge opportunity … and our approach keeps mobile and wearable apps lightweight, easy to customize and brand-friendly,” Tessier said noting that BIRT has always been a perfect way for companies to white label Actuate’s technology. Here’s that discussion in full at the Data Driven Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. We’ll be posting more of the Data Driven Summit 2014 video series here, including the other demonstrations, BIRT data visualization insights and panel discussions with industry insiders. Subscribe (at left) to be informed when new videos are posted.

Read More

Demand Forecasting for Star Wars VII Merchandise – Use the Force


One year from today (December 18, 2015) the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga will be released into movie theaters around the world. The movie will only last two hours, but kids will relive the movie for years afterwards with the Star Wars action figures and other new toys that will accompany the film. Forecasting demand for toys and merchandise associated with a major movie release can be quite challenging. When the original Star Wars action figures were released in late 1977 there was a huge supply shortage the following Christmas. A small toy company named Kenner had licensed the rights to produce toys for the original Star Wars film.  With numerous production delays and budget overruns, few associated with the film expected Star Wars to be a success before its release.  Consequently, Kenner had not bothered to manufacture any merchandise in time for the release.  Needless to say, the film was a smashing success breaking box office sales records and creating a loyal fan based of millions seemingly overnight. As a result, Kenner had to develop a merchandising strategy to capitalize on the film’s widespread popularity.   But the development of plastic toys required over a year.  The action figures needed to be designed, sculpted and tested.  Expensive and time consuming steel molds were needed to support the manufacturing activities.   Starting in mid-summer, Kenner would not be able to get the products to market in time for the all-important Christmas holiday season.  Although Kenner held the license rights to the biggest movie in history, it could not capitalize on the opportunity because it get its merchandise to market fast enough. Star Wars Cast Debating the Demand Forecast Toy manufacturers won’t make the same mistake with Episode VII. With filming already completed in Iceland and Abu Dhabi earlier this year, I suspect design has already started on action figures, replica ships and other merchandise in preparation for launch day. Manufacturing on the toys will need to start four to six months in advance (July-September 2015) to allow adequate time for product to be shipped from China via ocean freight to stores around the world. Forecasting demand for toys will require the usual guesswork. Which action figures will be the most popular? Will it be the older versions of Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo or will it be new additions Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren? Only the force could be used to accurately make these predictions. Episode VII’s release seven days before the Christmas holiday will complicate matters even further. Millions of kids will view the movie in the first few days then make last minute additions to their holiday wish lists. Santa and his elves will have to work quickly to respond to changing demand patterns up until Christmas Eve. I think the best way to launch the toys would be not to mass manufacture them in China, but instead to produce them on-demand in retail stores with 3D printers. In my next post I will explain how it could work.. The post Demand Forecasting for Star Wars VII Merchandise – Use the Force appeared first on All About B2B.

Read More

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Imagine Facebook without selfies, Instagram without videos or Amazon without product images. You can’t, can you? In this digital-first world we live in, data overload is a menacing reality, and a picture is not just “worth a thousand words” … it is priceless. The right visual element can attract our attention, make complex concepts clearer and assist in our decision making process. Here are three important business tasks where I think the right visuals make all the difference. Bringing Big Data to Life As big data becomes increasingly important to how we do business and serve our customers, the science of visualizing information has also become elevated. This is not a new notion. Edward R. Tufte, a statistician and professor emeritus at Yale University is a pioneer in the discipline. His landmark 1983 book, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,” provides guidance on successful information design and visualization. Tufte gave us six fundamental principles of analytical design that are timeless and translate from paper to the digital world: Show comparisons, contrasts, differences. Show causality, mechanism, explanation, systematic structure. Show multivariate data; that is, show more than 1 or 2 variables. Completely integrate words, numbers, images, diagrams. Thoroughly describe the evidence. Provide a detailed title, indicate the authors and sponsors, document the data sources, show complete measurement scales, point out relevant issues. Analytical presentations ultimately stand or fall depending on the quality, relevance and integrity of their content. Tufte also gave us a cool vocabulary for recognizing and discussing bad design: terms like chartjunk (interior graphic decoration that generates a lot of ink but does not tell the viewer anything new) and lie factor (numbers physically appearing on the surface of the graphic that are not directly proportional to the quantities represented). Tufte’s innovative ideas like sparklines are used to this day as a condensed and elegant way to present trends and variation embedded directly in text. For example: The Dow Jones index for February 7, 2006 In addition, Tufte figures heavily in the history of today’s infographic. As a graphic visual representation of knowledge that presents complex data quickly and clearly, an infographic can enhance understanding by improving our ability to see information patterns and trends.While infographics are a current popular embodiment of Tufte’s principles of analytic design, they have an interesting history of their own that includes, but also predates his work. A famous infographic milestone occurred in 1857 when English nurse Florence Nightingale used information graphics to persuade Queen Victoria to improve conditions in military hospitals. She used a Coxcomb chart, a combination of stacked bar and pie charts, depicting the number and causes of deaths during each month of the Crimean War.Once you see the chart, the picture makes it clear that the Russians were a minor enemy: the real enemies were cholera, typhus and dysentery. Another big step in the story of infographics was taken in 1931, when Harry Beck created the first map of the London Tube showing only lines to depict public transit routes and stations. This was an important development, because it moved visual diagrams into everyday life. Over the past several years infographics have taken off and their use by marketers is closing in on a saturation point. However, when done well, they remain an extremely useful means of visualization. As the Best Infographics of 2014 (so far) points out, “Humans have short attention spans and, let’s face it, the internet is cluttered. To stand out, boost engagement, and increase shareability, many marketers have turned to visual content — especially infographics.” While my favorite infographics typically are the vertical industry ones like Governments are Going Digital, Life Sciences 2014 Outlook, Are You a Connected Bank and Energy Sector Challenges in Asset Information Management, the infographic I like the best from the Best of 2014 list is “Your Brain on Beer vs. Coffee” — just because I do. Solving Problems Tufte declared that “the purpose of an evidence presentation is to assist thinking.” In 2003 he shared his thoughts on the now omnipresent business presentation tool in his article, PowerPoint is Evil. His conclusion blames the person rather than the technology: PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.” Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling offers a more positive view of presentation technology and presenter style. His 2006 TED talk, “The best stats you’ve ever seen,” debunked myths about the so-called “developing world” and has been viewed by millions. Rosling transformed dry statistics into an illuminating form of entertainment, earning him a spot on Time magazine’s 2012 100 most influential people list. The talk used animated graphics created with Gapminder Foundation’s Trendalyzer software. Animated scatterplots had been done before. But the way Hans Rosling used them to show data and make it interesting was an eye-opener for the visualization community. Who knew that you could use visualization not just to analyze data, but to present it and make it interesting? This wouldn’t have worked without Rosling’s performance, but that only worked because he had impressive charts to work with. CEO of Duarte Design, graphic designer and writer Nancy Duarte (@NancyDuarte) is well known for her best-selling books, including “slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.” (In the interests of full disclosure, Duarte is one of my idols, not just for what she does, but also because she shares my experience as an undergrad Mathematics major.) In her article Stop Underestimating Presentation Software, Duarte points out that presentation software — when used properly — can indeed be an effective tool: “Many of us know intuitively that visuals increase our understanding of concepts, but one study showed that people who follow directions that have both text and illustrations do 323 percent better than people following text-only directions. Much of that may have to do with the fact that we can understand an image in just 13 milliseconds. Regardless, it’s clear that including visuals with your text will help you get your message across. Presentation software is by far the easiest tool to use to do this.” Duarte and her team have extensively studied presentation structures to see what makes the best ones tick. Their VisualStory™ methodology is “designed to shape ideas into presentations that shift audience beliefs and behavior.” “If people can see what you’re saying, they’ll understand it. Use visual thinking and smart design to conceptualize your ideas and convey information clearly and powerfully.” Dan Roam (@dan_roam ) tells us that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can’t draw. In “The Back of the Napkin,” one of my favorite business books, he shares a practical framework and visualization techniques along with proof points that illustrate how any problem can be made clearer with a picture.Roam’s Look–See-Imagine-Show approach has been used by enterprises from diverse sectors to solve complex problems, including Walmart, Wells Fargo, the United States Navy and General Electric. I am a visual thinker and find myself turning to Roam’s method, especially the six ways of seeing and six ways of showing construct that is based in the science of visual thinking. And while I don’t necessarily recommend this particular approach, I have a great story about a bar in Amsterdam where we literally planned out a product launch on the back of a cocktail napkin. At the end of the day, drawing by hand — on a whiteboard, a tablet or yes, the back of a napkin — is not only a great way to encourage collaboration, it makes both the “presenter” and the “audience” actively engage in the discussion. Improving the Customer Experience When we think about using pictures to actively engage customers, the element of visualization in creating engaging omnichannel experiences probably comes top of mind.I’ve written before about customer experience management and the importance of getting omnichannel right. But visuals are also critical to what lies beneath the customer experience. Case in point, journey maps. The HBR blog post, Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience, provides an apt definition: A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes. Sometimes customer journey maps are ‘cradle to grave,’ looking at the entire arc of engagement.” As Bernhard Schindlholzer writes, “Customer journeys provide new insights into consumers by incorporating an emotional as well as time-based dimension of consumer behavior.” This emotional element may be why Forrester Research has identified journey mapping as key to customer centric digital transformation.In his report, “Journey Mapping Best Practices,” Forrester’s Tony Costa (@tonyjcosta) points out that “Journey maps function as a lens through which employees view their company from the perspective of the customer, cutting through organizational silos and structures.” Forrester’s Deanna Laufer (@deannalaufer) wrote about the power of journey maps in her blog saying “all of a sudden, you see the light bulb go on for the participants. It can be the realization that their customer has to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to submit a simple service request or have to wait five to 10 days for repair … or when the workshop participants realize they have no idea what their customers are doing or thinking, but maybe they should.” Journey maps force a change in thinking and even a remaking of organizations in terms of the customer experiences delivered. Because of this, journey maps can become the new executive dashboard. As Forrester shares, “the customer-first nature of journey maps make them a natural fit as dashboards for monitoring a company’s performance. Generic dashboards and scorecards will be replaced by instrumented journey maps that update in real time.” Thinking with Pictures I considered submitting a series of pictures for this article, without text.Then I realized that just as words and music must come together to create a great song, the artful (and scientific) combination of words and pictures is the way to create great concepts and energize people to take action. And, by the way, our product launch on a cocktail napkin went just fine, thank you. Title image is a self portrait by Deb Miller; Image courtesy of Robert Nunnally (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license This post first appeared on CMSWire.

Read More

Self-Service: Joining the Dots with Digital Wholesale Banking?

The retail banking space is currently dominating headlines when it comes to the topic of self-service. In their market segment, everything is about “omnichannel,” personal convenience. It is challenging to transpose what self-service could look like in the world of wholesale banking. This post is designed to join the dots and provoke initial thoughts for transaction banking. Corporate, institutional and investment clients are driven by a number of factors, creating a compelling case for self-service. These factors include: Digitization of the Financial Supply Chain: Corporates consume banking services as part of their integrated processes, instead of separate data integration silos. Standardization of Business Processes and Technology: Each bank tries to differentiate themselves from a product and services perspective, therefore creating standardization “loose ends” for the corporate to deal with. Self-service is perceived as an area of flexibility corporates can leverage to bridge that gap with their business processes. Increased “consumerization” Culture: While straight-through processing and host-to-host integration are cornerstones of a banking relationship, corporates still require key individuals in their organization to have liquidity and transactional visibility, together with approval controls. The world of mobile banking in retail is setting high expectations with these individuals. Downwards Segmentation of Corporate Banking: Upper mid-market companies are increasingly adopting host-to-host channels, as opposed to business online banking. Every wholesale bank I’ve spoken to in the last two years has a growth of mid-market companies adopting corporate channels, leaving behind the realm of online business banking. How could these compelling drivers manifest themselves, and what could “self-service” look like for each case? Digitization of Business On-Boarding : Collecting business information, structured and unstructured, is usually the first hurdle on both sides. “Know Your Customer” (KYC) data—such as signatories’ passport information, reference information, and contractual artifacts—are gathered and maintained over time through a manual process. A content management repository is only half of the solution; the biggest opportunity for client self-service is to enable customers to share business and personal information in a nimble, automated, scalable, and user-friendly manner. T echnical On-Boarding Automation : The collection of connectivity, API, digital certificates, and other IT reference data is something done manually nowadays, with a bank’s client implementations team having to both educate and collect information with spreadsheets and email. Self-service is about on-boarding workflow portals, which validate the structure and quality of the information share by the customer, automating a huge part of the mundane on-boarding tasks. If you add a provisioning facility that leverages that data to prepare the channel and front-office technology, self-service provides the banks with exponential scale, ensuring the on-boarding teams are able to focus on high-value activities. Readiness & Compliance Testing : Historically, banks maintain expensive and complex “staging environments” (also known as pre-production CAT, or Client Acceptance Testing, setups). This effectively duplicates their entire banking architecture and staffing to flush out any issues with the client’s data and processes during on-boarding. Replace all of this with a smart, partly unattended self-test tool, with channels and front office rules replicating the production environments, and you get a digital self-service experience that can achieve tremendous business outcomes for both clients and banks. Unattended Relationship Housekeeping : Over time, people, processes, and technologies change on both sides. Client information becomes outdated; people change roles and contact details; digital certificates may expire or become revoked; the client may lose track of the bank’s decommissioning notice for their FTP backup connection; and so forth: The list goes on forever. Self-service comes with a number of artifacts such as collaborative workspaces and community management tools. It may start with simple things such as regularly prompting clients to validate or repopulate their contact details, or to revisit their reference documents and important correspondence. Is everything and anything good for a “self-serve” model? Self-Provisioning: Enabling clients to manage and change their integration setup sounds great on paper, but it could cause a lot of disruptions if left unsupervised. To use an analogy: The Engine Order Telegraph (also known as “chadburn”) was a communications device used on ship s. The pilot or captain would move a lever from “stop” to “full ahead,” which would in turn move a needle on a dial in the engine room. This way, the captain never actuates the engine components (what we would call “provisioning” in terms of banking technology), but instead provides a prompt to the engine room’s crew to act upon. I believe the “self-serve” client tools should be largely based on a web or mobile version of this device, together with “engine room SLAs” at the bank. Exposed Data Normalization Tools: While readiness and compliance “self-tests” are great value-adds for both clients and banks, I have also heard terrible ideas that would enable clients to cause chaos during an on-boarding. Just to share a few: Clients should never be allowed to develop their mapping algorithms on their own on an application exposed by the bank. Equally bad, clients should not be granted visibility into middle-office systems (I was told once clients should see their full AML hits details). And last but not least, clients should not be given control over amending their submissions after the Bank has received it in the payment processing chain (fix/repair functionality in middle-office exposed to clients). So, what stands in the bank’s way to achieve self-service? Two words: Digital Transformation. Self-service has to be part of a consistent and coordinated strategy, executed in conjunction with other areas of transformation. For instance, it takes a consolidated and smart channel to build self-service for “any product over any channel,” a degree of customer centricity awareness, as well as further IT automation. My personal take on the whole topic is that not everything should be “self service”.

Read More

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


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

Read More

How Not to Build a Digital Business

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

Read More

Building Customer Loyalty with BIRT Analytics [Webinar]

As a kid, I had a Magic 8 Ball that would answer my deepest questions. I would squeeze my eyes shut, shake the ball and turn it over. Typically, what emerged from the mystical ooze was: “Better not tell you now,” which I always thought was an ominous response for the question: “What’s for dinner?” I bring this up because I don’t know about you, but it feels like some organizations use a Magic 8 Ball as a competitive advantage. How many times have you heard a manager proclaim their business decisions are based on existing customer transactions, a handful of data sets or even by gut instinct?  In this age of information, where Big Data is just the beginning, it boggles the mind that “61 percent of executives believe human insights must precede hard analytics when making business decisions,” according to research conducted by advertising agency, Gyro, and Fortune Magazine. Of course, a more logical approach to business decisions is to analyze customer data, seek out trends and proactively prepare for the future. Without some type of advanced analytics tool, organizations may not have the information necessary to prevent customers from leaving. This is especially evident in the telecommunications industry where an industry analysis of the cost of customer acquisitions noted that telecoms shell out the most to grab new customers. On average, it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. Here’s the breakdown of new customer acquisition costs as posted in a recent Entrepreneur article: Travel: $7 Retail: $10 Financial: TD Waterhouse: $175 Telecom: Sprint PCS: $315 But what do customers want? How does your company anticipate your customers’ needs? How can organizations better grasp the context of relevant data and prepare for success? We here at Actuate recommend advanced predictive analytics software that uses customer segmentation to accurately target products and services. Organizations that really want to forecast churn and increase customer loyalty, as well as identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, should never leave their business choices up to chance. Actuate recently hosted a free webinar entitled “Building Customer Loyalty for Telcos with Big Data Analytics” featuring Peter Hoopes, Vice President and General Manager of Actuate’s BIRT Analytics Division. He illustrated just how companies in general, and telcos specifically, could integrate and process large amounts of data from virtually any source (such as Excel, NoSQL, JSON and others) and gain a comprehensive view of individual and group customer buying patterns. The live demonstration by Mark Gamble, Director of Technical Marketing at Actuate, revealed how easy it is to create a single, view of data in an extremely agile columnar database. Actuate’s advanced analytics package runs deep, including analytics with pre-built algorithms such as decision trees, association rules, profiling and segmentation and Venn diagrams. Check out the replay of the free webinar to see BIRT Analytics in action. Then download a free trial of BIRT Analytics and give it a spin.

Read More

Digitize, Transform, Accelerate the Bank

The Digital Enterprise. A buzzword trending a lot in financial services in 2014, but what is it all about? According to many, the Digital Enterprise is an organization that uses technology as a competitive advantage in both its internal and external operations. At OpenText GXS we recently identified three trends developing across wholesale banking that enable transformation into the Digital Enterprise. Below is a summary of our findings collected over the last few months, which puts in perspective how financial institutions should digitize, transform and accelerate their business outcomes. 1 – Banks are under continued operational optimization pressure to improve cost income ratios Business process optimization and automation has transformed manufacturing and other industries, whereas Financial Services has lagged behind the curve. How can a bank resolve the issue of delivering process optimization with fragmented legacy technology? It probably boils down to the ability to scale services through self-service and standard components. At the same time, de-coupling legacy architecture and compliance will remove the major restrictions to flexible client servicing. Standardization of the components and features enables the bank to reduce operational costs and creates the platform for future process automation based on standard software. This may include: Enabling the delivery of cross-product functions as services: deliver services based on common features across products in the same way that car manufacturing uses single components to deliver multiple models. De-coupling the application layer of product functions, compliance functions and generic business services to ensure that Compliance and Regulation has less impact on product development based on customer needs. Increasing customer self-service and consumer experience; corporate services lag retail services in this area. Reducing customization per client. Increasing use of economies of scale from technology partners and standard software products over home-grown legacy with differentiation being based on service delivery. 2 – Bank clients are demanding consistent multi-channel delivery of services—‘Any product over any channel’—to improve the Customer Experience Historic product silos from both technical and business management perspectives have led to an architecture that does not lend itself to delivery of feature / function across product lines, let alone optimizing them for the customer experience across any channel. To enable products to be utilized based on the customer channel preference is a significant challenge. How are banks delivering against this goal today, and what mechanisms are available to enable a multi-channel experience? Client demand is to deliver services at the point of process need; for example, based on the corporate client and their very own individual process. ‘Any product over any channel’ will become a pre-requisite for service delivery, although most banks currently treat each channel as a separate silo rather than looking at an integrated channel strategy. A few leading transaction banks are considering placing the customer in control of the interface. Focus is shifting from channel to digital experience. This trend is driving towards a Digital Experience organizational unit that would overlay on Channel Services a layer to improve the client digital experience, a pre-cursor to Cloud Management units. The first step towards achieving this goal is widely accepted to be the deployment of a single gateway architecture as a framework for future product and service delivery. 3 – Corporate clients will want to consume banking services in the Cloud How does a bank respond to corporate client requirements for banking services that align to the Corporate’s business processes delivered in the Cloud, while maintaining a stable and standardized operational model? The need continues for banks to increase Transaction Revenues as interest rate products continue to yield lower returns. Decreasing operational costs, increasing customer self service and satisfaction will always be the outcomes relevant to the business case, but achieved through entirely new mechanisms: Cloud services create the market and network opportunity to deliver bank services in the marketplace Service-oriented models create the opportunity for low cost standardized delivery, whilst enabling the customer to tailor use and self-serve Overall, Cloud and consumable web services also create a number of challenges, similar to the dawn of e-commerce and B2B integration a few years ago. The banks need to think beyond new product development and innovation and make step changes towards the DigitalEnterprise. To conclude, let’s recognize that this Digital Transformation will largely change the way products are developed and the way banks will leverage innovation to differentiate. Equally, new challenges arise with compliance and data risk (“Who owns what where?”), while commercial models need to be adapted (“How are these services charged for and how are the necessary counterparties compensated?”). If you have some ideas and would like to share your thoughts, I’d welcome your views!

Read More

Shoe Shopping, Supply Chains and One Very Happy Customer

Followers of Gartner’s yearly Supply Chain Top 25 list may have noticed signs of progress over the last few years toward a responsive, demand-driven supply chain. As a student of the supply chain, I watch to see who makes the list and what market advances it highlights for suppliers and retailers. Last week though I got to experience the progress firsthand. An Omnichannel Supply Chain in Action Gartner’s list identifies 25 companies that “best exemplify the demand-driven ideal for today’s supply chain” and shares their best practices. There are some remarkable advances being made by supply chain leaders — whether or not they are on the 25 list — and sharing best practices is a good way to improve across the industry. And while all boats rise with a rising tide, the seas are much more turbulent these days in our omnichannel world. Supply chains need to align or get caught in a new perfect storm. Consider this scenario: You’re walking through the mall and see the perfect pair of shoes. You know, the ones you noticed on the fashion website and then on your Facebook page (because Facebook always knows what you are thinking). There they are in the store window on sale, so you pop in. You ask for your size in black to go with a new suit you just bought. CATASTROPHE! They only have them in blue in your size. You try them on. They fit like a dream and look great on, so now you really really want them. They are no longer just an idea, they are your must have shoes but they are the wrong color. A decade ago a consumer who faced this out-of-stock situation at their retailer might be told to wait until the next shipment arrived, or a check might be done and a suggestion made to visit another store location. More recently, the consumer might have gone online, found the shoes and perhaps purchased them from a different retailer. Consumers expect more these days and retailers have to step up to a seamless customer experience in order to keep the sale and maintain a delighted customer. In this case the customer got exactly what she wanted and the retailer did too. Here’s the second half of how this scenario played out: The sales person immediately says she can check for the shoe availability online. Yes, they have them and will ship no delivery charge to your home. They arrive within the week — right size, right color, same wonderful sale price! And yes they look fabulous with your new suit. Since I am a true supply chain geek, I wondered what went on behind the scenes in this scenario. Turns out the retailer in this story — Macy’s — has been investing over the past years in technology and approaches to optimize for omnichannel. They are outstanding in this endeavor and have been recognized by analyst and industry organizations alike for what they do and how they do it. The 30 Second Definitive History of Retail Supply Chain Excellence The retail industry was one of the first to embrace electronic data interchange (EDI) to automate and gain efficiencies in the supply chain. To this day EDI and its progeny continue as the backbone of the business networks that bring product from suppliers through to the point of sale — from ordering, packaging and shipping to payments and returns. Macy’s received an excellence in supply chain collaboration award from VICS (Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association) several years back for a MyMacy’s logistics initiative to reduce complexity, cost and time required to process vendor routings. More recently, a Gartner survey reported Macy’s major supply chain focus as well as overall industry priorities had shifted from reducing costs to initiatives for customer satisfaction and growth. And last year it received the Customer Engagement Award for Digital Technology at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Conference. Underlying this journey for Macy’s and other leading retailers are the technologies that enable labor and cost savings, cycle time reductions, streamlined inventory management, improved cash flows and better decision making. That same technology is now being applied to drive end to end supply chain visibility. Much of supply chain execution these days is prefaced on visibility to track to consumer behaviors in planning cycles, and then to adapt inventory and fulfillment tactics to match demand at any channel. Adaptive Approaches Maximize Inventory at any Channel Seventy-eight percent of digital shoppers “webroom” — research online before heading to a store to purchase — according to a recent Accenture survey. Alternatively, some store trips lead to a digital purchase. The same study found that 72 percent of respondents “showroom,” or buy digitally after seeing a product in a store. Consumers have merged online and offline into a single shopping experience, and they expect retailers to align with that world view. Yet Accenture’s benchmark study of retailer’s readiness to deliver seamless customer experiences found 81 percent reporting absent or underdeveloped capabilities in tailoring assortment, pricing and shopping occasion to customer expectations across channels. Macy’s has been working to make sure those capabilities are in place, creating an agile supply chain to maximize to customer behaviors. It has built multichannel commerce strategies and made technology investments against demand-supply point combinations. For example, the buy/deliver shoe scenario described above might be one combination, another might be web order/store pick up. Macy’s is turning retail outlets into multichannel fulfillment centers. It are also fulfilling direct from their supply chain partner DCs (Distribution Centers). In a recent interview, Macy’s Group VP of logistics shared that Macy’s uses a combination of lean manufacturing and forecasting, along with an omnichannel strategy. It focusses on fulfilling customer needs through existing inventories instead of purchasing new ones. Macy’s customers are twice as likely as other online buyers to have researched a product in its stores before purchasing it online. And Macy’s cashes in on this: It makes sure that customers can place their orders anywhere, through any device. Macy’s is also investing millions with vendors, in joint decision making in the choice of “inventories that haven’t even … come into their possession.” The shoes in my earlier scenario were sent directly from the vendor, shipped to the consumer, “sold” to Macy’s. This required both a solid backbone and enhanced management capabilities to keep better track of real time perpetual inventory levels and dynamically allocate inventory across channels to match ever changing customer behavior and demands. Same Day Delivery May Be a Battle, But Profitable Customers Win the Day While Google, Amazon and Walmart have focused on customer shopping behaviors and battling over shorter and same day deliveries, forward looking retailers will ultimately need to focus on winning “profitable customers.” In his recent blog post, Gartner analyst Robert Hetu shared his own supply chain shoe story. He pointed out that in the pursuit of multichannel excellence, “one of the most challenging aspects has been accurate and flexible inventory that can be maximized to meet customer demand regardless of channels.” Robert ordered two pairs of dress shoes from and they arrived simultaneously at his door — one pair came from the Galleria Mall near Pittsburgh, Pa., while the other came from Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ. “Flawless execution of an e-commerce order fulfilled from store inventory and shipped to my door. And the shipping was free! I am a delighted customer.” Robert wrote about the next challenge for high performing supply chain companies, After years of perfecting a supply chain that delivers to stores retailers are faced with an entirely new challenge. Supply chain optimization along with assortment optimization, are two critical elements of the go forward multichannel strategy. The complexity of layered costs will require a new way of accounting and assessment at a customer level. The question is how profitable am I as a customer of Macy’s?” In the End, It’s All About the Shoes I have no doubt that we will continue to see paradigm shifts in supply chain strategies. I’d like to end this article with some thoughts on the amazing results that supply chains like Macy’s are achieving in the new world of omnichannel retailing, and share my prescient remarks on the challenges ahead. But at the moment all this supply chain talk is just background noise, because I really need to go try on my new suit with my truly AMAZING new shoes! This story first appeared in CMSWire. Shutterstock_49021327

Read More

Find your industry colleagues at Enterprise World 2014

Enterprise World will have a great agenda this year, including industry-specific networking, sessions, speakers and insights. We hope you will join our industry team and take full advantage of the opportunities for peer discussion. We plan comprehensive coverage for Energy, Resources and Utilities, Financial Services and Insurance, Retail and Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications, the Public Sector, and more! The impact of digital on your industry We know the challenges that you face require a careful understanding and assessment of industry-specific demands, including established industry models and paths to digital transformation. So our industry experts have planned a set of focus sessions to hit on top of mind topics; including: Manufacturing Supply Chains of the Future Client Acquisition and Onboarding in Financial Services The M&E Digital Media Supply Chain Powering Business Transformation in the Energy Sector Challenges of Omni-Channel Retailing How Digital is Driving Government Transformation The New Quality Paradigm for Life Sciences More networking opportunities “You make thousands of decisions each year that impact everything from the kind of technologies your organization will implement to how digital will drive your global competitive advantage.” What better way to learn about the latest practices than from your peers in your respective vertical industry. This year at Enterprise World the vertical industry program begins on Tuesday afternoon with industry trends sessions and an industry meet-and-greet, and runs through Friday morning advisory group sessions. Throughout the week’s program tracks you will find industry solution case studies plus first hand customer success stories for your industry. Session topics will focus on how enterprise information management technology adds value for your organization, agency or business in your industry sector. And each morning you can join your colleagues at the “Birds of a Feather” industry breakfast tables. Register now and we’ll see you in November in Orlando, and in the meantime check out our Industry Insights community and Blog!

Read More

What’s the Difference Between Van Morrison and a Value Added Network?


Well put simply one is still doing the same thing they were doing more than forty five years ago and the other has evolved into something very different, but which is which? When I was a child, my parents were constantly playing Van Morrison music in the background whilst I was trying to build intricate engineering models with my Meccano set! In fact the late sixties were quite busy with Van Morrison launching what was to be a very successful solo career, the first EDI messages started to be exchanged and I was born around this time as well. When I joined GXS back in early 2006 I was introduced to the world of hub and spoke communities and Value Added Networks but this was at a time when the company was busy repositioning itself into something very different. After I joined GXS I started to hear terms such as the company being ‘more than just a VAN’ and as soon as I heard the VAN acronym I had flashbacks to when my parents were playing Van Morrison records, may be it was because the name ‘Van’ had been so engrained in my mind from a very early age! Anyway time moves on, GXS has evolved and under new ownership of OpenText™, the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, Trading Grid™, as our B2B network is called, is going to evolve still further and will strengthen the link between the internal and external enterprise. Moving EDI messages from one mail box to another is still part of our business, however the key growth area is our Managed Services offering and this is perfectly timed with the global interest in moving to cloud based services as a way to develop leaner, more scalable IT infrastructures. OpenText™ Trading Grid™ is essentially a network, something that our company has offered for many years and it helps to connect companies together to allow them to undertake business with each other. Trading Grid™ provides the single entry point into an enterprise and allows you to connect to many different external trading partners. So using this analogy Trading Grid™ is a business or B2B Network, not just any B2B network but one that is processing more than 16billion transactions each year. Once connected to Trading Grid™, companies can potentially connect with over 600,000 other businesses that are also making use of this network today. The former GXS company now sits under a business unit called Information Exchange and this business unit includes services such as Secure Messaging and Rightfax solutions to name but a few. The most staggering number shown below is the amount of commerce being transacted across Trading Grid over a one year period. So in the same way that Van Morrison’s music was initially released on records, you can now download a complete digital set of his music from Apple’s iTunes, in the world of EDI, the Trading Grid™ network has evolved into offering cloud based B2B integration services. This is significant progression in my mind! In my last blog post I discussed how companies can get more out of a B2B Network and during my keynote presentation at EDIFICE I cited several examples of different consumer and business networks. The so called ‘Network Effect’ is transforming how both people and companies communicate with each other. From personal networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, through to consumer networks or eco-systems which offer multiple services from with an environment such as iTunes or Google. Finally there are business networks such as industry specific ones such as Exostar and then B2B networks such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™. People have become use to connecting to a network and then using different services that reside on these particular networks. In the case of Trading Grid™, these additional services could be processing invoices across each of the 28 countries that make up the European Union, connecting to global banks via our SWIFT Bureau service, tracking the lifecycle of business transactions, through to managing the day to day collaboration between potentially thousands of trading partners and then providing direct integration with back office business systems such as SAP and SAGE. Three years ago I saw the above image posted on the internet which highlighted all the interactions between different users on Facebook over a fixed period of time. As you can see, all the Facebook interactions neatly define a map of the world. Given that I look after the industry marketing for the manufacturing vertical at OpenText™, I was curious to see the type of network that could be formed by companies connected to Trading Grid™. For the purposes of the graphic below, I have removed the names of the companies but it quickly became apparent that if an automotive supplier is connected to Trading Grid™ then they would be able to undertake B2B with virtually any of their trading partners located anywhere in the world. I won’t bore you with the details on all the individual B2B solutions used by these companies but once I created the above diagram, using a very small subset of our overall automotive customer base, there were some interesting observations. North American companies were very keen to try move towards using cloud based services (represented by the Managed Service, MS icon), European companies were keen on using their own home grown B2B platforms combined with our messaging platform, Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) and the Japanese companies were moving away from behind the firewall B2B solutions to cloud based services. The Japanese observation was probably as a result of the recent natural disasters that have impacted the country and their desire to spread their production risk around the world. In fact the automotive industry is truly global in nature and when OEMs move into a new country such as Mexico, their key suppliers are expected to move quickly into the country with them. Only a cloud based B2B infrastructure can provide this level of flexibility and scalability. As I highlighted in an earlier blog relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), the B2B network as we know it today is going to evolve still further. For example information from billions of connected devices across the supply chain will provide an end to end view of shipments that we have never experienced before. So just when today’s CIOs have started to embrace Cloud, Mobile, Big Data and Social Networks, along comes the IoT, considered by many as one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. Needless to say OpenText™ will embrace these disruptive technologies as part of our 2020 Digital Agenda and we will help guide CIOs through this period of significant ‘Digital Disruption’. So if you would like to learn why our B2B network is significantly more than just a VAN, then please visit our website for more information on Trading Grid™ and our future 2020 Digital Agenda. So just in case you haven’t worked out by now, after 45 years Van Morrison is still producing music and it is the EDI VAN that has evolved into a cloud based B2B Network. In closing it is interesting that Van Morrison’s latest album is called ‘Born to Sing’, a bit like Trading Grid, ‘Born to do B2B’

Read More

Mobile devices and EDI – a winning combination?

The writing on the wall is clear – tablets and smartphones are becoming ubiquitous and increasingly leveraged as critical business tools. EDI is the foundation of business-to-business e-commerce (B2B), so it was inevitable that a combination of mobile devices and EDI would be something that companies would start to consider. After all, there are many potential opportunities to improve business processes by integrating mobile devices with EDI document exchange processes. It could be simply enabling someone in your business to be able to create a purchase order or an invoice while he or she is out of the office. I think that this could prove to be rather cumbersome while typing on a smartphone with “fat fingers.” Anyway, I think that there are more exciting EDI-based opportunities out there with mobile – and they are applications that are built atop the EDI processes. Here are just a few examples I have found that have already been implemented in some companies. 1. Real-time event notifications Employees that receive emails or text messages on tablets or smartphones can proactively react to changing business conditions – no matter where they are – and thus avoid or reduce process bottlenecks, ensure that customer satisfaction is maintained or increased, and therefore help to protect and/or grow revenues. A couple of examples include: Notification via email or text message that an invoice has been received and is ready for approval. The recipient can immediately review and approve the invoice or contact someone at the office to have it approved. Approving an invoice within a certain timeframe can ensure that the company qualifies for any discounts available for early payment. Notification to a buyer via email or text message that an Advance Ship Notice from a supplier has not yet been received. The buyer can immediately contact the supplier to determine the status of the order and decide whether or not alternative order fulfillment sources should be used in order to ensure timely delivery of goods to an end customer. Notification to a supplier via email or text message that an Advance Ship Notice to a customer has not yet been sent. The supplier can investigate the situation and expedite the order fulfillment if necessary in order to preserve good relationships – and thus revenue – from important customers. 2. Transaction status inquiries Business people that are out of the office need to know whether a transaction has occurred. For example: The sales person who is on the road needs to know the status of a delivery to a customer. Instead of calling the office to find out the status of the Advance Ship Notice, the sales person can use his/her smartphone or tablet to sign into a portal to find out at any convenient time. The buyer whose supplier has called to inquire about a missing payment can use his/her smartphone or tablet to access a portal to determine if and/or when a remittance advice has been sent. 3. Visibility to analytics Using a smartphone or tablet, buyers (and suppliers) who are in the process of negotiating new contracts can access a portal to display a dashboard showing the supplier’s on-time delivery performance or a buyer’s payment history over the prior year. These metrics are based on orders, ASNs and invoices exchanged. 4. Special-purpose EDI-related mobile apps Once the key business documents are being exchanged via EDI, new mobile applications are being built to further improve the process efficiency. Here are a couple of examples from the retail sector: The adoption of Direct Exchange (DEX) streamlines the flow of products and information through the supply chain. Using DEX, delivery personnel can scan the barcode of an item into a mobile device to create an electronic invoice. This data is transmitted to the receiver via an in-store docking station. The receiver opens the invoice in the receiving system and scans the delivered goods to verify quantities. After the data is reconciled, the digital invoice is closed and a finalized copy is transmitted back to the supplier system via his mobile device. One US retailer has been able to reduce the duration of each store delivery by 15 to 45 minutes using DEX. Another retailer is leveraging tablets in its warehouse to help improve efficiency of warehouse personnel in dealing with identification and tracking of damaged shipments received, shipments for which there are inaccurate ASNs or ASNS that don’t match their purchase orders, and the creation of deductions that should be applied to subsequent invoices as a result of those errors. Using the tablet, the warehouse employee selects the affected purchase order via the PO #, selects the deduction reason code, enters any comments, attaches photos of any damaged goods, and submits the deduction for processing by the accounts payable system. An approver then determines whether the deduction should be waived or processed. This process not only automates many of the manual tasks associated with deduction management for the buyer, but also aids in the dispute resolution process. In summary, it looks like new mobile technologies are already positively impacting the speed and efficiency of business-to-business electronic commerce. And, I believe that we can look forward to many more applications in the future. Maybe now is a good time to think about where mobile and EDI could be used to create positive impact in your company? But, while you investigate these new opportunities, remember that these are just a couple of examples of new integration requirements for B2B programs. They will add more complexity in the company. To learn more about how and why B2B integration is becoming more and more complicated and the key factors, resource competencies, and skills that are needed when determining your company’s integration strategy, be sure to watch this Gartner webinar: “Roadmap for Improving Your Integration Strategy, the 7 Things You Must Know (and Do) About Integration”

Read More