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As far back as 3rd century B.C., there is evidence of business trading networks and routes that dealt in spices, gold nuggets, cocoa and salt. The Silk route in Asia and the Amber road in Europe not only allowed trade of goods but also fostered exchange of ideas and cultures creating an environment where businesses survived and thrived based on the strength of these networks.

As old trading routes have given way to new ones, Business Networks have substantially evolved as well. Today, people think of Linked In as a business network where professional information is exchanged with colleagues and business acquaintances. While people and relationships are core to any network, Business Networks retain a much broader value chain that includes suppliers, manufacturers, customers, financial institutions, government and regulatory agencies and the people within each of them.

Companies are doing a lot more trading with their networks due to globalized supply chains, but a large majority of the repeatable interactions are now automated. For example, Apple does not need to meet in person with Foxconn, its manufacturer, every time it places an order for thousands of new devices. A simple electronic order completes this notification. Most large companies use business applications like ERP to help enable flow of information with external Business Networks.

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For a Business Network to achieve its ultimate goal – enable the exchange of data and information between people and businesses to make them more efficient and productive – several things need to align, thus making them one of the most interesting and technologically complex problems to address.

In this upcoming series of blog posts, I plan to explore what the key pillars of a Business Network are, how companies can integrate their business processes with a Business Network and what the future of Business Network looks like. One of the key questions I plan to address is what technological components are needed for a company to participate in a Business Network.

Whether looking to understand how to use a Business Network to better manage your Operational Complexity or to start your journey using a connectivity solution, stay tuned to this space. Also be sure to check out the top 10 reasons for simplifying your B2B with SAP.

Follow me on Twitter @siddharth31

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