Dave Friedlos of Computing.co.uk recently ran an article (publication dated 21 June 2007) on UK companies lagging behind their European counterparts in terms of supply chain integration. Nothing new here! According to the article:
- “Lack of integrated systems and data can cause extra costs, take longer to bring new products to market, and lead to an inability to respond quickly to change” – a survey conducted by Vanson Bourne for Sterling Commerce.
- “We are adapting common IT systems around the world to make it easier to integrate with suppliers’ infrastructures” – Jon Higgins, IT Director of Tesco.com.
- “The increased complexity of supply chains can be attributed to a rise in outsourcing and mergers and acquisitions” – Nigel Montgomery of AMR Research.
- “Companies that can collaborate closely with supply chain partners from all over the world will out-compete their rivals” – Chris Hayes of Sterling Commerce.
I like to talk about two points:
- The supply chain integration
- Beauty of the article – given that I was in the presence of the editor of computing.co.uk magazine yesterday (even though I foolishly did not take the trouble to introduce myself – as the new media against old media – ah! the arrogance of bloggers!)
The supply chain integration spoke of here has three aspects:
- e-market or e-procurement platforms – connecting supplier catalogues, giving the opportunity to select products from suppliers on-line and integrating with back-ends.
- Exchange of Purchase-to-Payment (P2P) and Supply-to-Cash (S2C) documents – this is what document exchange hubs are good at – operating at the top of hierarchy.
- on-line payment.
When 2 & 3 are combined, you get Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP) hub based solutions. Note that “E” here is loosely used to mean P2P and S2C documents.
The EIPP and e-Procurement markets are full of diverse products with multiple service offerings from licensed software to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products. Whilst there are management consultancies, it is my opinion that medium size companies (not to mention smaller companies) are exposed to selecting the wrong application due to lack of in-house knowledge and readily available well-advised consultants, and ineffective capital investments. So, it is no wonder the survey find UK behind Germany and France.
In terms of the beauty of the article, my guess is that:
- Dave Friedlos received three articles from which he produced one combined article to get the message out, i.e. UK is not too good at supply chain integration.
- Dave received one article and he quickly got in touch with others to complete the story – the power of a well respected magazine.
Now one of the issues that came out yesterday at BASDA event is that traditional (or A-list) journalists always go after facts instead of hearsay. They like quotes and real stories that can be verified. In my opinion, the bloggers tend to be the opposite, e.g. bloggers ride on other blogs and traditional media – pretty much sporadic – sometimes without any discipline! I am guilty as much as some of my fellow bloggers! Long live traditional media!