Supply Chain

The benefits of a digital supply chain extend far beyond sustainability

In recent research from OpenText and Foundry nearly one in five respondents said that B2B integration was transformational to their sustainability efforts in the supply chain. However, it also revealed that the benefits of document digitization for these companies go far beyond sustainability. IDC has also reported substantial benefits to business performance from applying B2B integration to virtually every type of supply chain document.

IDC set out to provide perspective on the level of digital maturity in the supply chain of global organizations worldwide and establish where companies are on their B2B integration journey. Similar to the Foundry survey, the research concentrated on the effect of the digital supply chain across a range of documents. 

The results were startling – even to a provider of B2B integration solutions!

Seeing the benefit of a digital supply chain

The IDC survey found that digitally exchanging documents led to significant business performance improvements regardless of information type (See Table 1). In fact, the average gain was 78% across all information types. Put simply, both surveys show a direct and powerful correlation between the adoption of supply integration solutions and a more effective and flexible supply chain.

Table 1: Supply chain performance improvement through digital exchange of information types (Source: IDC)

Product catalogue84%
Advance Ship Notice84%
Shipping Status84%
Pricing information82%
Functional/Order Management82%
Customs Documents80%
Request for Quote79%
Purchase Order79%
Receiving Advice79%
Forecast/Planning Schedule79%
Inventory Inquiry79%
Logistics Service Request/Response79%
Bill of Lading76%
Notes or other unstructured information77%
Payment Remittance Advice73%
Change Request69%

Yet, both sets of research results showed that most organizations still have a long way to go on the B2B integration journey. While the benefits are clear, adoption remains relatively low. Foundry suggested that although many companies are progressing in digitizing supply chain documents, even leading firms have digitized only 50%. 

The IDC survey backed up this finding and showed significantly lower adoption rates for specific documents – such as Advance Shipping Notices, Order Management or Shipping Status – even though they are amongst the information types that deliver the most business benefit when digitized.

B2B integration is crucial to a successful digital supply chain

If the last few painful years have shown us anything, it is the importance of the supply chain and the incredible strains that virtually everyone is under. The IDC research found that most organizations have suffered several different types of supply chain disruption in the previous two years. 

When asked how they addressed these challenges, the survey respondents identified a range of activities best delivered through B2B integration. (See Table 2). Organizations globally understand that they need to improve collaboration and how they share information with their trading partner community.

Table 2: Which of the following would you prioritize in order to improve integration across your supply chain operations over the next 2 years? (Source: IDC)

This graph illustrates company priorities for improving integration across the supply chain including supplier diversificaiton.

Those organizations advanced in B2B integration are already reaping the benefits (See Table 3) and are well positioned to outperform their competitors as the supply chain plays an increasingly important part in determining business success.

Table 3: Top benefits experienced through the adoption of B2B integration (Source: IDC)

This graph illustrates the top 9 benefits of B2B integration including reduced operational and logistical costs.

The adoption of B2B integration is accelerating

Given the scale of the benefits on offer, it’s no surprise that IDC found that over half of companies are already well advanced in using B2B integration. However, this is set to snowball, with three-quarters of respondents expecting to use automated, digital exchange of documents with customers in the next three years (See Table 4).

Table 4: Digital information exchange with customers, today and in three years’ time  (Source: IDC)

 Today3 years
Manual and unstructured communication (paper, fax, phone, email, file sharing, etc.)21%12%
Manual but structured communication (web EDI or other portal solutions, web forms, smart forms, etc.)26%12%
Automated message-based integration (Direct EDI integration, Value-Added Networks)28%39%
Automated real-time system integration (API-based synchronous integration)25%36%

According to IDC, a resilient and agile supply chain requires visibility and intelligence. The firm has said, ‘ It is not enough to be able to see,” they add, “you must also be able to act. It is not enough to be able to act, you must see where and how to act’. The IDC and Foundry research demonstrates the importance of B2B integration in achieving those goals.

It is not enough to be able to see, you must also be able to act. It is not enough to be able to act, you must see where and how to act.


Read the full CIO MarketPulse report: The State of Sustainability in Supply Chains 

Read the full IDC report: Next-Generation B2B Integration Enables a Digital-First, Resilient Supply Chain

Naomi Skinner

As Senior Manager, Product Marketing for OpenText Business Network, Naomi leads product marketing efforts for B2B integration in the supply chain space as well as in healthcare. Experienced marketer across various industries, Naomi enjoys translating complex concepts into simple terms.

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