B2B managed services don't just prepare companies for the IT and process challenges to come; they help organizations navigate the most pressing demands of today. As the speed of business accelerates, the distant future can quickly become tomorrow. As such, planning for the road ahead needs to be completely integrated with imminent needs. This can complicate the relationship-building process between two companies. Neither one wants to jump headfirst into a problem with no easy resolution, and it's almost always easier (and cheaper) to do the research than risk the unknown.
The changing dynamics of strategic business planning disrupt the fabric of traditional B2B relationships, however. The same characteristics that may have helped a business ensure a solid foundation in its B2B and supply chain relationships - tact, deliberation, caution - may end up being a hindrance, if applied too rigidly. At the same time, careful considerations can't disappear. Organizations need is to confront new wrinkles with new solutions, and B2B managed services provides the frictionless support to productive efficiency.
To understand how B2B relationships will have to change as each enterprise shifts, it’s useful to look at three elements currently affecting most businesses: the need for visibility, rising IT costs and information security.
The need for visibility: The new normal
B2B managed services can help businesses gain a clear picture of how their environments are functioning, which can help them build better relationships with trading partners in a more efficient fashion. Organizational silos and decentralization contribute to diminished productivity in critical business processes, as stakeholders in different divisions aren't able to see the forest for their own trees. Globalization and the expanding range of supply chain responsibilities make the need for visibility a premium requirement.
The advantages of B2B managed services stem from an approach that combines technological demands with business expectations. When based on a highly reliable hosting infrastructure, B2B managed services can be leveraged for complete insight into B2B processes and communication. As organizations gain more insight into the strengths of their operational processes and identify ways to improve, they can automate and consolidate within the company, as well as improve the relationships they create with business partners.
Rising IT costs: A threat to the bottom line
As part of a mission to become more scalable, companies want to reduce costs. Many of these hoped-for expense reductions come from areas in which IT and business needs overlap, such as systems management, data oversight and communications support. However, the resources recouped from reducing hardware spending or becoming more software-centric often need to be immediately repurposed for escalating mobility, application environment and IT continuity support. This can leave companies in a precarious place, feeling like they have no way to become leaner in the face of imminent challenges.
IT is now more firmly integrated into regular business operations than ever, as CIO.com contributor Tom Kaneshige observed. In some cases, it means that non-IT executives now exert more power over IT purchasing decisions than before, while in other scenarios, IT staff are faced with more business-centric purchases and management. Both situations are not ideal for continued on-premises IT management.
B2B managed services can help companies integrate changes in IT purchasing directives and management into their business relationships. On a macro level, B2B managed services acts a gateway for companies to address needs all at once, increasing automation and flexibility. On a micro level, the provider can work with the business to target the most pressing issues, alleviating complexity and unnecessary spending with as much direct oversight as the company requires.
Information security: Still thorny
When will information security ever not be an issue? Staying ahead of hackers is increasingly the best - perhaps only - way to avoid increasingly common data breaches and malware attacks. Research that shows cyberattack risk essentially correlates to the amount of customer data a company collects, as The Washington Post reported, highlights how virtually every modicum of progress a company makes is accompanied by heightened vulnerabilities.
The larger the ecosystem - the more users, applications, companies and lines of data exchange present - the higher the risk. Many of the most pressing information security challenges stem from things like user error and file transfer protocols, which can become dangerously outmoded almost overnight.
B2B managed services and EDI support can help companies struggling with information security. They can aid an organization in exploring its weaknesses, and ensure that the supply chain ecosystem is insulated from emerging coordination and incident resolution issues. At Lightwell, B2B managed services and EDI support can be customized to an enterprise’s specific needs, ensuring optimal administration of related tasks, better handling and mapping of EDI transactions, and overall management and monitoring support.
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