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Companies spend an exorbitant amount of time and money trying to attract and retain the best talent. And for good reason.  The right executive, manager or R&D associate can have a significant impact on the performance of the department or company as a whole.  After hiring the best talent they can find, companies then invest in knowledge sharing and collaboration technology and processes to ensure their talent works together well and knowledge is scaled.

It is ironic then, that companies spend so little effort on tapping the much greater pool of knowledge in their full network.  Regardless of how good a company is at attracting the best and brightest, the knowledge contained among its employees is a tiny fraction of what exists across their customers, suppliers and other partners.  And some knowledge can’t possibly exist within a company.  Would a company really have the knowledge in-house to understand the intricacies of operating in a new market or the true risks in a multi-tier supply chain?

The core challenge has historically been feasibility.  Companies simply lacked the ability to access and make sense of the reams of knowledge in their broader networks to derive meaningful insights.  Fortunately, in today’s Networked Economy people, devices and businesses are more connected than ever before.  This can connect you to relevant experts and information, plus generate new types of data.  Today’s big data technologies, such as SAP’s HANA, can then capture and derive relevant insights from the data in our networks.

Key to any effective strategy is business networks.  Traditionally viewed as a way to extend systems to suppliers and customers to make inter-enterprise collaboration more efficient, they are also a portal into the knowledge in your networks.  They do this in several ways.

First, they connect you to the broad network of existing AND potential trading partners. 

  • Are you or one of your suppliers looking to access credit?  A network can connect you to your customers for a negotiated early payment discount, or potentially to 3rd party financing agents that can bid online for your receivables.
  • Looking to drive product innovation?  You can post your requirements over a network, which automatically matches you with potential suppliers that can propose creative solutions. Crowdsourcing for B2B.

Second, they bring relevant insights to decision makers at the right point in the process. 

  • Looking to hire a contractor or other contingent labor?  You can access online labor pools and market rate information.
  • Eager to increase risk free return on your cash in today’s low interest rate environment? Business networks and integrated solutions can show you what invoices are eligible for early payment discounts.
  • Trying to assess the risk of a potential supplier?  3rd party risk and financial data can be made available in online supplier profiles.

Lastly, they generate entirely new types of data and insights which can be used to make smarter decisions.  For example:

  • Peers reviews are available for potential suppliers and available in public profiles to help assess and mitigate risk.
  • Network analytics, such as those enabled by SAP HANA on the Ariba Network, highlight a range of opportunities.  Suppliers can, for instance, access their complete transaction history with a given customer and create intuitive data visualizations that allow them to understand how their payment cycles are trending or whether their invoice rejection rates are improving.

In today’s Networked Economy, the knowledge and expertise available to you is no longer constrained by your organizational boundaries. Technologies such as business networks powered by big data analytics tools, can enable your company to leverage the far greater knowledge available in the market. Why aren’t you leveraging the insights in your networks yet?

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