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On-demand solution providers have far greater resources and experience in recruiting trading partners for a collaboration platform than companies have in-house. Many on-demand providers also come to the table with networks of pre-connected suppliers and carriers, which help to further reduce roll-out times and increase trading partner acceptance.
-Nari Viswanathan, research director, AberdeenGroup
Business and IT leaders are under increasing pressure to improve B2B collaboration and the underlying electronic communication capabilities of their organizations.
• Approximately 69 percent of companies report they have increased their emphasis on creating an electronic flow of data between themselves and their business partners over the past three years, while only 4 percent say the emphasis has decreased.
• A considerable 80 percent of companies say that their emphasis on customer collaboration has increased over the past three years, while only 2 percent say that it has decreased.
• Companies report an increased focus on supplier collaboration, complicated by more low-cost country sourcing. The average company reports 12.9 supply disruptions a year that cause a material impact on their company.
The two stages of improved collaboration identified by Aberdeen research are:
• Data Collaboration. The first step in achieving scalable process collaboration is to ensure a strong electronic communication foundation has been established that will serve effectively as a backbone for data/document exchange. Data synchronization tools can be applied at this level to ensure product information and other master data flows are aligned between trading partners - reducing data errors, invoice disputes, and out-of-stock conditions. Business activity monitoring and transactional lifecycle management also play important roles in ensuring timely and complete information flows between trading partners.
• Process Collaboration. Process collaboration goes beyond electronic data exchange and management to enable collaborative workflows through an electronic communication platform. Examples of process collaboration include forecast collaboration, design collaboration, inventory collaboration, and transportation collaboration.
Sixty-two percent of 455 companies surveyed by Aberdeen indicated that they are using a software application for enabling data collaboration whereas only 29 percent indicated that they have process collaboration capability. Expect to see a bridging of the gap in these numbers in the coming years. In addition, the 38 percent of laggards (companies without an application for data collection) will also jump on the bandwagon, most likely as part of their ERP deployments. Look for on-demand solution providers to help jump-start the transition to process collaboration.
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