In today’s cloud-based Digital Economy, people, things, and companies have never been more connected. As individuals, we see the impact on a regular basis: Personal networks like Facebook connect us to friends; professional networks like LinkedIn connect us with past, present, and potential colleagues; consumer networks like Amazon.com or eBay connect us to sellers and communities of peers that help us make informed buying decisions – and on and on.
This connectivity helps us make better use of our money, tap into the expertise of others, and optimize the most precious resource of all: our time. It makes us smarter and more efficient, and helps us manage the growing complexity of modern life. Sure, you might want to strangle that friend who’s texting someone else while you are trying to have a conversation. But overall, I think most of us would agree that being better-connected is a good thing.
Businesses face even greater complexity in today’s environment. Active governments and international organizations spew new regulations on a daily basis. Stagnant growth in developed markets means companies must increasingly enter new, unfamiliar markets. The pace of innovation continues to increase, and entire business models are being disrupted by creative upstarts. Supply chains are growing increasingly complex and interdependent.
Redefining resource management
To succeed amidst this complexity, companies must optimize the use of their resources, including their capital, people, knowledge, and data. Optimizing entails not just deploying resources efficiently, but actively managing and reconfiguring them as needed to respond to changing conditions and threats to keep business running smoothly. And companies should broaden their definition of what comprises their resources to include those beyond the four walls of their own organization. For example, the insight of their suppliers (or potential suppliers) can drive the next product innovation. Or community knowledge can help mitigate risk. That requires a new mindset and the right tools for effective, efficient, and reliable connectivity.
It also presents a significant opportunity for CIOs to enable business process innovation. They can and should serve as chief integrators, ensuring effective and efficient connectivity across and beyond the organization.
The role of business networks
Business networks provide the required connectivity, enabling a new way of operating. They are enabling true business process innovation, as explained in a recent IDC whitepaper by Michael Fauschette, group vice president software business solutions, because when it comes to managing the resources and processes that make things move, traditional models and systems no longer apply. Used correctly, business networks enable organizations to effectively manage enterprise resources by collaborating effectively both internally across functions and externally with suppliers, customers, other trading partners, and the broader online community.
Take working capital as an example. Business networks:
- Minimize inventory while simultaneously reducing stockout risk. How? By enabling deep visibility into the flow of goods in your supply chain for you and your suppliers.
- Optimize DPO or maximize return on your cash, while providing your supply base flexible financing options. How? By connecting you with your suppliers and third-party financing parties and providing full visibility into invoices and payment terms. As your capital needs change, you can pay early for a discount or pay as late as possible to maximize DPO. Your suppliers can receive payment when they need it, either through you or via connected third-party financing parties.
Similar examples apply to all enterprise resources, be it your people, knowledge, or data.
Business networks are leveraging the automation, scale, and ubiquity of the cloud to further simplify the way complex business gets done. And companies that tap into such engines of innovation can enable the agility, speed, and efficiency required to manage resources in a new and dynamic way. Those that don’t will increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
To learn more about how to simplify resource management, join Alex for a free webinar on July 28 at 11:00 a.m. EDT exploring the strategic role of the CIO and how they can leverage business networks to simplify connectivity and collaboration for sustained business success.
Alex Saric is currently global vice president, marketing at Ariba, an SAP company. In his 20-year career, he has held senior general, product and marketing management roles and worked with over 100 customers. He is a pioneer in cloud-based solutions and business networks that help companies optimize and simplify their processes.
Want more thought leadership on the potential of today’s business networks? See Business Networks: The Platforms for Future Innovation.