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