The global economy remains a robust network of relationships for companies and countries to navigate. With the looming impact of BREXIT and the Trump Tweets of building more walls, it has never been more important for companies to perfect collaboration with their trading partners. This means that Business Networks – be they suppliers, distributors and even customers – become an extension of the company itself. Companies then need to be able to make the most of that Business Network to compete and delight customers.
Why Collaboration Matters – Every company I meet with has some resource constraint such as tight budgets or a war for talent. Companies are increasingly moving toward operating models that allow them to balance their internal competencies with external technology, expertise and communities. They are looking for solutions that can quickly scale up or down as their needs and objectives change. And of course, be simple to use, be smart & intelligent and be open.
Just as networking computers together was a quantum leap in productivity back in the 1990s, networking businesses together in today’s market using cloud solutions can be a quantum leap in efficiency, profitability and knowledge for everyone involved. Consider an example where a company wants to start manufacturing a new product that requires a special polymer that none of its current suppliers can provide. One way to go about this work would be:
- The Engineering team conducts research to determine the requirements
- The Procurement team does a vendor search
- Suppliers provide bids through email or worse through portals (walls) that the company has set up requiring vendors to use
- Accounting sets up the new vendor once selected
- IT works with the vendor to share to set them up and ensure that orders, statements, invoices and other trading documentation works properly
- Legal then negotiates and signs the contract
That is a lot of time, effort, expense, and ultimately delay. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if you could:
- Engineering was already engaged with customers getting feedback though a user community
- Procurement had a marketplace set up where they could order immediately or could send out requests across the globe all at once
- The new vendor was set up automatically once approved and with a simple relationship request was immediately plugged into your IT systems
- Legal had pre-approved this marketplace for buying and supplier risks were known and managed
To achieve this kind of performance, you need more than technology within the four walls of your company. You need access to a global network of trading partners and a living growing community of professional expertise where companies meet to collaborate and trade. You need a Business Network, the right one!
Selecting The Right Business Network – There are Business Networks and there are Software Vendor Portals. It is imperative that companies partner with Business Networks because they provide six key benefits.
First, and maybe most important, is that the Architecture of a network means that it is open for many to join and to use. Would you use LinkedIn if only 10,000 people were allowed on it? Being open allows the community to grow and new value added services and features to be created rapidly. Business Networks are seeking to provide value to all companies. They want buyers to find what they want to buy and they want sellers to find new business. Business Networks provide services and global support and they often offer predictive analytics to give recommendations and advice. Finally, a Business Network seeks to align end-to-end processes between companies to help speed business results.
Be Open – The case for collaborating with your trading partners is clear. As the world economies look toward new leaders that are in the process of setting policies that may be more insular, leading businesses will be harnessing the power of Business Networks to provide secure, smart and safe supply chains.
Sources – Ardent Partners, Selecting The Right Network, Bartolini; The Economist, Intelligent Unit