Four steps for future-proofing your supply chain by driving better ecosystem integration 

Lessons from the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ 2022 on the future of supply chain collaboration

Global supply chains have been going through tumultuous times over the past couple of years and most organizations have had to rapidly adapt their operations in response to a variety of disruptions. To learn more about lessons learned and what lies ahead, OpenText recently joined CSCOs and other supply chain leaders at Gartner’s annual supply chain conference bringing together a large number of the world’s leading supply chain organizations, industry analysts and technology vendors.  

The event packed together tons of great insights in line with Gartner’s predictions around supply chain strategy, with one of the key trends being the rise of ecosystems as a source of competitive advantage. Enabling digital collaboration between buyers and their suppliers, 3PLs, and other partners is at the heart of what OpenText Business Network does, so let’s have a closer look at four key steps that companies should consider as they continue to adjust and evolve their supply chain operations towards collaborative ecosystems. 

1. Accelerate digital transformation of the supply chain  

As both the disruption in the global business environment and its financial impact on organizations have increased, supply chain leaders need to accelerate their efforts in harnessing digital technology to anticipate challenges and mitigate their impact. Ability to integrate and process data across multiple sources in real time is crucial for enabling this.  

The good news is that CEOs increasingly understand the vital role that supply chains play in meeting their business goals and are willing to make investments in digital supply chain capabilities. In addition, board members are increasingly willing to grow their risk appetite to support transformation, as they are realizing that not acting also carries significant risks for the long-term success of their business.    

2. Shift focus to external collaboration to increase supply chain maturity 

As an organization’s supply chain maturity increases, its focus needs to change from optimizing internal operations in silos to enabling and coordinating deep collaboration first across the different internal functions and then externally across its ecosystem. To enable this shift, organizations need a comprehensive technology strategy and architecture that allows flexible and efficient collaboration and provides visibility across the end-to-end supply chain.  

Building the technology architecture to support higher levels of supply chain maturity often requires rethinking and modernizing existing integration solutions – such as legacy B2B gateway software, MFT and ESB deployments – to avoid bottlenecks and enable the desired outcomes.  

3. Expand ecosystem collaboration into new areas 

Increasing ecosystem collaboration involves deeper integration and digital information exchange with suppliers, customers, logistics providers, banks and other 3rd parties. However, simply digitizing existing processes and ways of working is not enough. Companies need to actively look for opportunities to transform the way they do business and how they orchestrate their operations.  

Depending on their industry, size, regional coverage, position in the market and many other factors companies may, for example, look for new sales channels and market expansion through rapidly growing digital marketplaces. They can – and due to emerging legislation may even have to – also change the way they manage their supplier portfolio and risk by introducing new and more comprehensive sustainability and ESG metrics into their supplier KPI tracking with the help of integrating data from service providers specializing in risk information.  

4. Empower users in the battle against cognitive overload 

Supply chain professionals today are facing an almost paradoxical challenge regarding supply chain information. To increase their organization’s supply chain maturity and improve performance they must exchange and leverage growing amounts of data both internally and externally across their ecosystem. However, most people are already overwhelmed with the amount of information they are processing today, leaving many organizations struggling with limitations on the pace at which they can move.  

To reduce this cognitive overload that supply chain professionals are experiencing and enable better use of data in the future, companies need to empower people with better decision-making strategies, better user experience for more convenient access to information, and higher levels of automation to reduce manual data processing.   

Integration technology plays a key role in supply chain transformation 

When rethinking their supply chain technology architecture organizations tend to focus heavily on acquiring new applications and tools for managing the various facets of their supply chain operations. However, the importance of integrating data between those applications and the broader ecosystem is often overlooked, leading to challenges and disappointments when the new functionalities fall short of expectations due to limited access to – and quality of – essential supply chain data.  

Modern integration capabilities form the digital backbone of the modern supply chain. Companies should therefore pay close attention to ensuring that their integration solutions can support their supply chain strategy going forward. Deepening ecosystem collaboration will likely require a new approach. 

OpenText enables supply chains to leverage a Business-to-Anything (B2A) integration approach that allows increased digital collaboration to drive greater efficiency and visibility. Read more about our solutions around supply chain integration to learn how you can take your supply chain collaboration to the next level. 

Ville Parkkinen

Ville Parkkinen is a Director of Product Marketing for Business Network at OpenText. Working closely with OpenText’s Product Management, Engineering, Solution Consulting and Sales teams, Ville enjoys taking complex technical concepts and translating them into tangible business value in customer context. Solution areas that Ville focuses on include digitization and automation of supply chain processes including order-to-cash and procure-to-pay; electronic invoicing solutions; B2B/EDI integration; data visibility and analytics; and managed integration services.

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