Building B2B Supply Chain Networks

July 10, 2015 Katie McGinn

Today, supply chains are networked. They are not linear. Instead, there are interdependencies with outsourced contract manufacturing companies, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), freight forwarders, and transportation providers. While our relationships are outsourced, our information technology systems are not. Companies have automated the enterprise; but the automation of the extended value chain remains an opportunity.

It is now possible. B2B network solutions are now in their second decade of maturity. Yet, only 7% of

flows move through B2B networks i. They are maturing and should be considered as a part of a

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supply chain IT architecture.

Today, most of the networks depend on ad hoc, manual processes. Despite a decade of technology evolution on B2B connectivity, the majority of the flows in the extended network move through spreadsheets, email, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). As a result, as things change in the network, it is hard for trading partners to keep the information synchronized. It may be integrated, but it is not synchronized. Why? There is no network system of record. The flows are point-to-point. Data latency is high. As a result, when the data is received, it is often out-of-sync and out-of-date. The links are fragile. As a result, multi-party process automation is not possible.

Most companies know the problem, but they are confused on where to start to solve it. They lack clarity on three basic questions:

  1. Why a B2B Supply Chain Business Network Solution versus EDI?

  2. Why a B2B Supply Chain Business Network Solution versus ERP?

  3. Which B2B Supply Chain Business Network Solution to use?

Answering these questions is the goal of this report.

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