retail

New Resolution for Retailers in 2016: Take Charge of Your Chargebacks

shutterstock_339070085

How many errors and chargebacks are going through your distribution centers or system unchecked during this holiday season? There’s a significant chance it’s more than you expect. Consider the cost incurred when shipments arrive on incorrectly stacked palets, ASNs arrive invalid or late, and cartons have unscannable barcodes. All of this can be costing you millions. Based on our insight into the retail industry and speaking with our customers, on average 2% of your retail sales revenue is offset by chargebacks. Say, for example, your annual sales revenue is $5 billion and 50% of that revenue is earned during the holidays. That means you are experiencing $50 million in errors and chargebacks every year. What’s your estimated total? If you don’t have a complete deduction management process then it’s likely to be much higher than your actual amounts. Some retailers have in-house or legacy processes to identify and assess their chargebacks while others don’t have an established process at all. In both cases, it’s extremely likely that errors are slipping through your distribution centers or systems. Not only are the errors unaccounted for but there are missed opportunities to notify vendors and avoid similar errors for future shipments. The benefits of a complete deduction management solution go far beyond the cost offsets. Better communication with vendors means a better working relationship and avoidance of similar errors down the road. By combining communication with more timely and accurate data, retailers can achieve better transparency with their vendors. This can further strengthen the retailer-vendor relationship and ensure that products arrive on floors without any cause for delay. Improve your vendor compliance program in 2016. See how Stage Stores achieved both compliance and collaboration with its vendors in a recent OpenText Success Story.

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Drop Shipping Creates Opportunities and Challenges for Retailers

Experience-Matters

It is the busiest time of year for retailers as they focus on the final holiday shopping push.  To offer their customers a unique and wide assortment many retailers are expanding their drop ship/vendor direct channel to grow sales. This popular business model offers customers products that the retailer doesn’t stock, but can order from a distributor or manufacturer (supplier) and have it shipped direct to the consumer. This model helps the retailer because it doesn’t need to pre-order stock or store and manage items in their distribution/fulfillment centers. As you can imagine, retailers see a large increase in drop-ship orders during the holiday season. One OpenText customer is experiencing a 4x increase in these orders this holiday season. Drop ship, while a great business model, puts additional burden on the retailer and supplier to ensure transactions flow smoothly. Once the customer places the order on the retailer’s Web site, the retailer must place a corresponding order with the supplier with all the shipping information. And because the customer will want to know exactly when their order will be delivered, the supplier must provide all the necessary information so their customer knows the status of their order including tracking information that allows the customer to know exactly when their package is going to arrive. This is particularly important because the customer is placing the order with the retailer and it is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure the customer package arrives on-time and with the correct merchandise. OpenText provides retailers a complete solution for B2B integration that supports drop shipping – even supporting this process with non-digitally enabled suppliers through a web portal. With B2B integration, an online order from a customer can automatically generate an electronic order to the supplier, which the supplier can electronically acknowledge and accept. It should be noted that these are small individual orders – meaning that the value of the orders do not support manual processes for fulfillment. When the supplier ships the order to the customer, they can automatically generate and send the shipment information to the retailer, who can immediately use that information to update the customer confirming shipment and providing tracking information. In addition, OpenText provides visibility and proactive alerting that allows the retailer and supplier to be notified and take immediate action to correct any problems with a customer order.  This assures a smooth transaction flow from the retailer to supplier to their mutual customer. To learn more about B2B integration in Retail, you can read the whitepaper, Key Omnichannel Considerations for the Purchase Order Process.

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Streamlining Prescription Fulfillment with Automatic Capture Technology

Streamlining-Prescription

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 www.opentext.com/campaigns/intelligent-fax-workflow.

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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

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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.

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Enterprise Mobility: Are you an Enabler?

Mobility

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

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

customer experience

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.

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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!

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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.

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

AS2 FTP

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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 401kcalculator.org

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Why Location Intelligence is Critical to Your App

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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