Get Connected in the Networked Economy
Written by Tim Minahan, Chief Marketing Officer, Ariba, Inc.
We live in a networked world. As consumers, we tap into personal networks like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.com that help us learn, share and shop better. And this is changing the way that we do business. Leading companies are now leveraging digital networks to more efficiently engage with their trading partners and collaborate across the entire commerce process. In the process, they’re creating a new way of operating that will drive the future of business commerce: the Networked Enterprise.
At its core, the Networked Enterprise is all about relevant connections and efficient collaboration. Businesses realize that they can no longer be competitive on their own. With supply chains that stretch around the globe, they are more reliant on external partners. And as a result, sharing information and coordinating processes is critical.
Social networks have made it easier than ever to drive conversations, gather intelligence and manage relationships. Facebook has created the world’s largest network of personal connections. Amazon offers the world’s largest and most convenient network for personal shopping. Everything you need to manage your personal lives is contained within these networks – there’s no need to leave them to make things happen.
Business networks provide an equally easy way to link and coordinate a virtual ‘extraprise’ of partners into a shared community executing improved and coordinated processes in a more informed way than in the past. And with increasing frequency, companies are tapping into them to enable a new, connected way of operating.
This shift is being driven and accelerated by trends like cloud computing, mobility and the convergence of enterprise applications, social media and communities.
The impact of this convergence is clear in the consumer world. Whether searching on Google, shopping on Amazon, downloading music from iTunes, or engaging on Facebook or Twitter, we use networks to run our personal lives because they make things easy.
When shopping on Amazon, you don’t worry about connecting to each individual merchant. When it comes time to pay, you don’t worry about integrating into each individual bank or credit card company. It’s all done for you within the Network. Whether you’re buying a book or a blender, you get the same simple shopping experience. It’s all transparent and easy for the end user.
Now, businesses are demanding the same experience. Companies are looking beyond the traditional view of IT to extend their procurement, sales, and finance processes and systems outside their four walls. They want to discover, connect, and collaborate more efficiently with their trading partners, and they want to do it all as easily as they do in their personal lives.
Just as Facebook is the destination for people looking to more efficiently manage their personal networks and activities, business networks are the destination for companies looking to better manage their trading relationships and commerce activities.
Much like their social counterparts, business networks provide:
- Cloud-based applicationsthat allow organizations that share a business process to share the underlying technology infrastructure that enables that process.
- A community or network of partners through which companies can quickly discover, qualify, connect, and collaborate with trading partners.
- Capabilitiesin the form of best practices, community-derived intelligence and other unique features or services that allow members of the community to gather intelligence and make more informed decisions.
A decade ago, there was serious debate about the viability of the Internet as a channel for business – or even a tool to power it. Today, it is clearly a driving force of productivity and profitability:
• McKinsey & Co. found that companies using collaborative technologies like business networks to align with their partners were outperforming their peers in every category of business performance by a wide margin.
• A CFO Magazine study found that global finance executives view using technologies – like the cloud and business networks – to better discover, connect, and collaborate with their customers, suppliers, and other trading partners as a top priority for agility and growth.
• And CIO Magazine reports that IT executives are also prioritizing investments to improve external collaboration.
Innovative companies are already on the bandwagon, unleashing the power of business networks to drive future growth, profitability and differentiation across their businesses. And more will surely join.
As with any new way of doing things, there will always be detractors. Back in the day, critics said the automobile was a neat toy for hobbyists, but it would never replace the horse. When the first computers arrived on the scene, industry watchers predicted ‘there is a world market for maybe five’ of them.
But companies that embrace the networked model stand poised to deliver their organizations to new levels of productivity and profits.
Tim Minahan is Chief Marketing Officerof Ariba, Inc., the world’s business commerce network.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.