MAKING B2B YOUR NEW OPERATIONAL STANDARD BY INTRODUCTION: Given the challenges of the market place today, executives are looking for solutions that will give them a key advantage over their competitors. Part of this advantage is clearly based on identifying ways to use technology and innovative work practices to improve productivity, reduce costs, and improve service to employees, partners, and consumers. Understanding business-to-business collaboration technologies and how they integrate with transaction systems is one way to gain a competitive edge. MARKET CONDITIONS: Market conditions are changing faster than ever before, yet we seem to find it harder to adapt and deal with these changes. Despite the fact that information technology solutions are mature and available, the gap between the organizations that wins the first time out and the others continues to widen. How can operations such as COVISINT and Altra create great value using technology to support their needs, yet others spend millions and still fail to get it right? Many organizations today are concerned about the possibility of failure with their e-business systems. The dramatic change in market conditions has caused confusion in many e-business decision cycles across the globe. Often, it appears that the very large benefits from e-business technologies are reaped when a combination of technologies are deployed at once. For example, many firms now understand that implementing customer relationship management (CRM) technologies without a supporting knowledge base creates only another touch point for information, and not high-impact benefits. The latter are created only when technology and support systems work in harmony to provide relevant information to the person who needs it. ACCELERATION: The e- business economy, often cited initially as a separate market, is increasingly being recognized as a hybrid. Existing business operations and practices mutate into new forms, some recognizable from earlier business models, while others change much more dramatically. The successful systems that develop from this strategy focus on accelerating both the business relationship and the cycle. Leading suppliers in today’s economy not only embrace the concept of change; they aggressively try to modify the behavior of a marketplace. The successful ones mix a potent cocktail that includes:
  • Knowledge of how their market (or supply chain) is currently working; and consequently what needs changing.
  • A desire to collapse entire existing business processes and systems, or segments thereof (such as supply chains , work processes, decision cycles)
  • Technology to effect the change.
  • Marketing and distribution skills to deliver the new product.
  • Partnership with others to gain rapid adoption of the new model.
  • The ability to change and support new work processes and practices to build solutions.
The business benefits associated with these changes are not only desirable; they are also strategic weapons for e-business systems. COLLABORATIVE CONTACT: By connecting the power of collaborative commerce with tools that build, deliver and manage the procurement or sales process, significant benefits can be leveraged from buyer and supplier relationships. Many e-business relationships begin by automating the procurement process; so optimizing these relationships using additional tools may seem like a natural extension. However, because the entry points and reasons for collaborative commerce are often separate, many organizations miss put on the benefits of a more integrated strategy. Nevertheless, using collaborative commerce to support the procurement process often creates opportunities to improve the efficiency of business relationships, and can radically cut costs and unnecessary steps out of existing processes. Over time, the effectiveness of any business relationship can be easy to measure. However, seeing what is failing and where improvements need to be made in the short term is much more difficult and is often only visible once serious problems arise. TRANSACTION SYSTEMS: Over the last couple of years, the development on the internet of transaction tools such as marketplaces, auctions, and web –based –EDI, and electronic catalogues-has expanded. Compared to traditional EDI, transaction systems affect a greater number of phases in procurement or selling life cycles. However, the RFQ, proposal responses and communication between purchaser and supplier can all be conducted electronically. This cuts the time required to complete the evaluation phases and the supporting tools allow the specialist to manage relationships with more suppliers or customers. COLLABORATION TOOLS: The tools discussed thus far support important phases in the transaction life cycle. They fit within an organization's processes and support certain tasks; in general, they do not require the company to make large process or organizational changes to utilize them. Collaborative tools, on the other hand, extend beyond the task level to all the phases in the transaction life cycle to take advantage of such tools, companies will have to make broader changes to their organization and processes. Moat organizations have already implemented basic collaborative tools, such as E-mail and the corporate intranet. Many organizations are already using these to support their procurement and other processes. The use of these tools is a good first step, but there are more robust collaboration tools that can transforms the way employees and business partners communicate When looking at collaboration tools. It is important to view them as modules that fit together to form solutions. These modules are often extensions of existing systems or other collaboration tools. For example, a workflow system will utilize e-mail to notify individuals that they need to take action. They are not a replacement for transaction systems, but a way of extending the value of a transaction system throughout the enterprise and beyond to its trading partners. By using these tools to complement transactions systems, an organization will create a collaborative transaction network, which gives all members of the trading network access to data. Until recently, most of the technology being implemented by corporations to aid transaction life cycles has been complementary to existing processes. Organizations have successfully implemented EDI and e-business systems without making significant organizational or process changes. This is no longer enough. In order to stay ahead, firms must not only implemented new transaction technology, but must also review and change their work processes and the supporting technology. CONCLUSION:
  • It is essential for executives around the globe to understand the opportunity presented by the combination of collaborative commerce technologies and revised business processes.
  • Just ‘waiting for it to happen around them may produce very undesirable results.
  • The competitive edge will go to those who exploit these technologies and change their business processes and practices to leverage them in the market place.
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