In a number of our previous blog commentaries, and in our presentations at industry and supply chain management conferences, Supply Chain Matters has raised awareness to the critical importance of establishing end-to-end connectivity and visibility across the end-to-end supply chain network. More importantly, the end-to-end business network technology must be adaptable to today’s rapid clock speed of business that presents constant change and added line-of-business opportunities.

Too often, supply chain and line-of-business teams find themselves laggard in accomplishing time-to-market business milestones because of existing systems constraints. Once more, the gap among laggards and those with more agile end-to-end B2B process capabilities continues to grow rather than shrink. This should be a key concern for functional supply chain as well as supporting IT teams.

Interoperability of information flow is especially critical for manufacturers supporting direct materials and product value-chain needs across a global network. We believe it has become nearly a necessity. The longer-term requirement is often the ability to seamlessly support not only purchase-to-pay (P2P) but also broader business-to-business (B2B) processes.

The B2B network must be seamless, non-disruptive, and further have the ability to support not just two-way electronic transactional flows but more interactive forms of business process collaboration and business intelligence.

But here is the caveat.

Procurement and S&OP teams are well aware that one of the biggest pain points surrounding consideration of the deployment of an end-to-end network is the onboarding of existing or new suppliers. Too often, rapidly changing business needs that require added and/or modified supplier and/or partner information can become the frustrating bottleneck because the maintenance of B2B system information is too time-consuming and cumbersome.

Interoperability and business process simplicity is a two-way lens that some procurement and supply chain teams discover too late in the process.

Having observed and participated as an industry analyst in the broad history of B2B networks or trading exchanges, many of which did not survive, this author had the opportunity to monitor and report on the key obstacles. Very often, network viability is predicated on the value that suppliers can obtain from a network in relation to the overall effort and cost involved in supporting a single or a multitude of key customers.

The reality of numerous and often expensive IT resources tied-up to sustain a B2B network is not only expensive but draws important resources away from more strategic needs. The onboarding of suppliers needs to be as simple as possible, not requiring armies of technical consultants and dedicated IT directed at customizations, data mapping, or connectivity to existing systems.

Suppliers, in-turn, should have the option to choose a range of no-cost or low-cost options that allow them to not only connect to your end-to-end supply chain network, but to others as well. The added value for suppliers is the ability to not only electronically receive purchase orders and forecasts but to be able to communicate order changes, shipments, invoices and other important information in a more-timely manner.

This author recently had the opportunity to speak with and be briefed by Nipendo, a cloud-based global provider of B2B network based supply chain technology.  Many of our readers might not be familiar with this provider.  The origins of Nipendo stem from Israel, where the provider supports the end-to-end supply chain connectivity needs of a who’s-who of prominent firms in the region.  Nipendo has since broadened its market presence and now has its sights turned to North America.  Industries supported by Nipendo Cloud include Manufacturing, Aerospace and Defense, Healthcare, and Pharmaceuticals. This technology vendor considers its strong point to be seamless interoperability as well as a compelling value proposition in terms of speed of implementation and more attractive overall support costs.

This author noted other rather interesting aspects of Nipendo Cloud, including rather interesting application of machine-learning applied to business network information. In subsequent postings, we will provide additional observations regarding Nipendo’s machine learning capabilities applied to supplier on-boarding and information maintenance as well as capabilities to support deeper supplier collaboration.

Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari

© 2015 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

Disclosure: Nipendo is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC