If you are an avid science fiction reader, you probably know about the concept of telepathy. Although IBM Labs predicts one day it might be possible to link your smart phone or computer to your brain to expedite and personalize processes, that technology simply isn't there yet. This doesn't mean, though, that supply chains shouldn't try to get in the heads of their customers. What would any business give to have the ability to read their customers' minds to see what they like and dislike?
In this increasingly competitive business environment, that's exactly what is expected of them. Supply chains must be predictors rather than reactors; otherwise, customers will go elsewhere. In a recent webinar entitled "Why B2B Collaboration Is No Longer Optional for your Organization," Bryan Ball of the Aberdeen Group highlighted the problems supply chains must address in order to meet increased customer demand.
He noted how he met with supply chain managers of all levels and all spoke to increased customer demands as a major pressure on supply chains. They point to the weekend after Thanksgiving as an example. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 30 percent of all e-commerce is conducted on that one weekend. That's a lot of demand on the supply chain for a four day period.
However, that is of no concern to the consumer. If a supply chain misses the ball and isn't able to ensure order fulfillment or there is a miscommunication between partners that affects the transaction, a customer will simply go elsewhere to a supply chain that can meet their demands. Therefore, supply chains must have the infrastructure in place to be aware of risks and opportunities, so they can act before everyone else. This is where business to business integration is so crucial.
Good business to business integration within a supply chain ensures:
- Greater volume of data is able to be fed among different trading partners
- Reduction in miscommunications during a transaction
- Real-time visibility for the customer
The automation and upgrade of these processes is important because, in that same webinar, Ball said 68% of supply chain managers surveyed complained that integration issues had cost them key trading partners and 70% cite a lack of visibility as having a significant impact. In addition, over the course of the past year, supply chains have reported a loss of $93 billion due to mismanaged inventory. These are all issues that can be rectified by better B2B integration.
Although many businesses have stepped up their focus on B2B integration over the past couple of years, there is still much work to be done. 78% of businesses still rely on manual processes like email or phone calls in transactions with customers and partners. Numbers like this indicate that there is still great potential for B2B integration among supply chains to address their customers' needs better.
For information on business to business integration solutions and their role in optimizing the supply chain, click below: