Energy & Utilities B2B Integration Has Become Mission-Critical

The electric utilities industry is undergoing a revolution, according to Europe’s trade association Eurelectric.

“The EU power sector is going through one of the most profound changes in its history,” the report stated. Strategy consultant Jesse Jenkins, in noting the report, speculated that Europe’s need for revolution reflects conditions in the energy industry world-wide, the message being, “they must evolve or die.”

Four major trends are reshaping the power sector, he said: the growth of renewables, a more decentralized system, foundations of the smart grid, and retail competition/new services.

The Eurelectric report cites several evolutionary improvements in services that are critical to the future, including improved system flexibility: “A market involving B2B [business to business] customers is already emerging and is likely to extend to the B2C segment through two-way digital communication enabled by smart grids and the increased penetration of smart appliances and home control technologies.”

The report concluded that real evolution in the industry requires not just technological innovation, but new innovative business models. A successful example is Entsog, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, which is smoothly facilitating the integration of trading across borders by leveraging the AS4 interface standard.

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Poor B2B Integration Has Serious Impact on Financial Partnerships in England

A lack of solid B2B integration between financial institutions in the UK has had a negative impact on profits and public confidence, according to a study by Freeform Dynamics, an analysis firm.

Over a third of the financial organizations surveyed, 35 percent, reported that they qualify as “bottom-tier” B2B performers, the study said. Failed updates between partners, visibility issues and lack of motivation to improve were cited as key problems.

Industry integration failures making the news have only underscored the problem. The Bank of Scotland’s issues with the accuracy of mortgage payment records were a cited example.

The report, commissioned by Liaison Technologies, cited lack of B2B integration skills and knowledge, poor management support, ownership issues as major contributors to the shortfall.

“It’s clear from our study that the shortcomings of B2B solution providers have played a significant part in perpetuating the low levels of integration we see among UK businesses,” said Dale Vile of Freeform. All the more reason, per Vile’s observation, that financial institutions should invest in a reliable and flexible B2B integration solution from a reputable integration software vendor.

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Hidden Barriers in Customer-Centric Supply Chain Strategy

Customer centricity is informing and advancing strategy in a number of product and service delivery domains, overwhelmingly for the better. The increasing ubiquity of big data and feasible analytics implementation have worked to make customer-centric strategy viable at many levels.

But there are some potential difficulties in realizing a customer-centric strategy in supply chain operations that might not be readily obvious, suggests industry commentator Steve Banker. For one thing, what customers say they want and what they really want are not always the same thing:

“If you ask customers what they want, they will say ‘We want lower prices, cooler products, and better service.’ But what really matters to them? What will cause them to buy more goods from you? What will they pay extra for?” Banker has said that deeper study – conjoint analysis, in particular – might be required to tease out the data needed to make the supply chain truly customer-centric.

Analyst Lora Cecere points out another hidden barrier: a lack of organizational alignment.

“As long as sales incentives are tied to volume, marketing is rewarded on market share, and operations on cost, companies will never achieve a customer-centric response,” she said. “In a customer-centric strategy, the value chain makes choices on how to serve and respond to the customer based on cost-to-serve, channel and value chain strategies…the key is to orchestrate cross-functional alignment with an outside-in focus.”

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3 Retail Trends Amplify The Need For Faster Partner Integration

Retail is undergoing a major transformation globally. Consumer buying habits have changed, new economies are growing faster and traditional brick and mortar sales are in a funk. This has a direct impact on supplier relationships and B2B Integration will play a key role in this transformation.

The 3 trends re-shaping Retail today globally.

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