From Supply Chain to ConnectedCare, Construction, Architecture, Education, to remote monitoring of complex processes, to product design, to micro investing, all are applications for collaboration technologies and services. Knowledge sharing, joint project work and just socializing and sharing ideas through the web and mobile has exploded.
The high cost of connectivity has given way to “free” connectivity. The implications are global and universal. Collaboration technology such as video conferencing, enterprise social network, shareware supporting asynchronous communications, which we call streams, is the day-to-day way we now work. The demand for connectivity has had the user community take the issue into their own hands using all the services they can connect to. This is forcing solutions providers to find ever more powerful and less expensive approaches.
And enterprise users are looking for fully integrated solutions that combine supply chain applications, B2B integration, and visibility, with the people/social. The “people, process and technology” we have been talking about for decades is starting to become a reality. People will no longer be separate from the process.
To wit, several heavyweight applications providers have included enterprise social networking within their solutions such as ERP and Supply Chain.
These can be simple “button on the screen,” such as Chatter (not really integrated into the process) or fully integrated into the fabric of the system, including the people in your process workflow, your department or other related attribute groups, already in your ERP or your supply chain solutions like Cloud Logistics.
Integrating the supply chain is also front and center with globalization of the processes and therefore demand for visibility is growing higher. Thinking beyond transactions to a visibility layer has gone from just an efficiency issue to a legal one. Compliance regulations on trade from Homeland Security, FDA and Consumer Protection all require full-backward trace. And for products that require condition monitoring that track has gone from sometime to real time.
Regardless of the intensity of traceability requirements we won’t get to visibility /integration without inclusion. To that end many commercial transportation solutions have opened their networks with messaging integration at no charge, or EDI providers to include smaller trading partner connections for free. Examples are Descartes’ Global Logistics Network in logistics, DiCentral in EDI, or Coupa with a self-service and free procurement network. Large enterprises have had huge issues getting “the rest of the world” integrated and these are examples that break down barriers.
B2B integration and collaboration in 2013 are top concerns and investments for our surveyed audience. For the collaboration market these changes – embedding social – are truly disruptive, presenting a decision/inflection point for the traditional collaboration technologists, whose stand-alone products may no longer be interesting to the enterprise buyer. The integration market, though, will grow at a healthy clip where connectivity is table stakes to trade.
Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain management IT, supply chain solutions, supply chain connectedness