[News brief] 5 obstacles to avoid for success in B2B integration
Published on 7 March 2017
Complexity does not equal complication
Complexity has become the name of the game for globally-integrated companies. Day-to-day life entails the management of multiple players, products, supply chains, and channels in order to remain not only competitive, but also to merely stay in business. However, while complexity is something to be expected, it doesn’t have to go hand in hand with complication. Complication in business usually stems from issues such as poor management, inefficient processes and organization, and the way data is extracted and managed. These complications can usually be traced back to the use of complicated and clunky IT systems that were never set up for global integration. Our recent IDC survey shows that the key IT challenges that companies face today are namely the high costs of IT implementation and the complexity of information network integration. Companies find themselves faced with the inability to deal with different data formats in a competitive manner, which then negatively impacts their ability to meet customer demands as effectively as their competition. B2B integration goes hand in hand with fulfilling the customer promise, and without certain levels of collaboration and an IT structure that promotes collaboration, businesses are falling behind.
Nearly 60% of the companies evaluated state they also face complications due to the use of multiple B2B applications, creating an even more complex ecosystem to manage. Businesses are now required to reinvent their use of IT in order to create a more flexible system that will be able to handle all types of ecosystem complexities from the get-go. Adopting a SaaS-based platform will allow companies to allocate money, time, and effort to a system that embraces complexity and uses it to grow.
The main obstacles companies face today
However, business integration is not an easy undertaking. The IDC survey highlights five obstacles ostensibly standing in the way of effective integration. These are the obstacles that businesses need to confront head on if they want to achieve success:
- Difficult demand and lead time forecasting: This appears to be the most challenging obstacle, making collaboration with other businesses a huge challenge.
- Too many business partners: This affects mainly larger enterprises, rather than SMBs, as larger companies tend to have built a more complex infrastructure with more players involved in every process. This is especially relevant for companies that have grown inorganically via multiple acquisitions and mergers.
- Too many sales channels (web, B2B, email, fax, phone): With nearly 80% of respondents citing too many sales channels as an obstacle, this is one of the main challenges that many SMBs face. The proliferation of different sales channels leaves SMBs struggling to maintain a positive customer experience, which goes to show that many are in dire need of technological tools to facilitate this process.
- Lack of investment in enabling process changes: Nearly 60% of the survey’s respondents noted there needs to be a bigger push to strategically use investments towards B2B integration, using digital transformation as the way forward.
- Business network complexity: As mentioned in more detail above, complexity does not have to inevitably mean complication, and the right integration can embrace complexity and use it towards a company’s advantage. Many businesses still see this complexity as a challenge as they do not have the proper IT set-up to deal with it correctly.
Based on our IDC survey, between 60 and 80% of respondents deem the above to be the most important obstacles they face. Other obstacles to watch out for, but lower on the totem pole, are: lack of internal skills, lack of trust among business partners, and lack of commitment to B2B integration on the top management side. In a nutshell, successful B2B integration goes hand in hand with the creation of a trusted business network where willing collaboration and commitment are teamed with the technological tools built to enhance networks rather than inhibit them.