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Author's profile photo Ruud Willemsen

An Analogue Business Process is like Refrozen Ice Cream

/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ijs2_315x210_686900.jpgProbably recognizable: you buy ice cream on a hot day. On the way home the ice cream transforms into liquid. You put it back in the freezer once you get home, you know for sure it won’t taste as good as the original. Yet this is exactly what happens with information exchanges in business life.

Take an easy example of company presentations. Attendees are busy making notes on the obligatory notepad. They then turn it into an email or Word file. The analogue words have been transformed into a digital file. This document is never really the same as the actual presentation. I even dare say that the digital file has lost a great deal of quality.

The same process is done on a regular basis with purchasing processes. The purchasing system generates a PO as a PDF file which ends up with the supplier via email. The supplier will print the order and will enter the data in his sales order system. Another case of melted ice cream, that is re-frozen.

Then the purchaser will start a sourcing project and send an Excel file with questions to suppliers. The suppliers fill it in, after which the purchaser puts the different sheets manually together in a master file so the propositions can be compared easily. The ice cream is now being frozen again to its supposed original form.

Ice cream has to remain frozen
The metaphor is clear. In the same way ice cream cannot be refrozen, company processes must remain digital. Social media in this regard is an example of the potential efficiency of digital processes and ditto communication. With three clicks of the mouse, I can just as easily reach my best friend as well as long lost college friends. And those people can find out quickly about me, because I keep updating my profile with photos and useful information. I only have to do it once, and everyone sees the same updates immediately. And they can find me quickly. It’s almost impossible to be more efficient.

The Internet has made our personal lives so much easier. But this does not apply to business. If you as a supplier want to do transactions with large organizations, then you must sign into their system first. Often through all kinds of time-consuming web forms. And you have to keep updating data. Clients and suppliers often get lost in this process.

Easy search and find
There is a solution that makes efficiency possible: a digital company network for both purchasing companies as well as suppliers. Suppliers only have to adjust their profile in one place. And buyers can easily find what they want.

Moreover organizations can easily synchronize names, addresses and contact information with all company systems. They exist within a central database. Document exchange is done completely in ‘frozen’ condition; from purchase order to sales order, from sourcing event to tender. The shape doesn’t change anywhere within the chain because of an unnecessary or clumsy link. All processes remain digital.

Digital processes are the fuel of the new networked economy. People are already used to social platforms on which they share news, updates and photos with friends and family and vice versa. Cooperation through a digital company network is the next logical step. Only then the ice cream stays top quality

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