Are You Using Reverse Logistics?

Reverse logistics get a lot of press in supply chain news, and for good reason: making use of them can lead to considerable savings.

Reverse logistics are concerned with supply chain aftermarket activity, including Customer Service (which feeds back into product lifecycle and development), servicing, remanufacturing, recycling and sustainability. Strong reverse logistics can lead to considerable gains in efficiency, and have a positive impact on product support activities such as refurbishment, field service and parts management. The Reverse Logistics Association adds that RL is “the scientific process of managing assets, in every department in all industries and across all disciplines.”

Within this definition, the data tracked in Reverse Logistics falls within the purview of B2B integration in general: parts, servicing, refurbishment, and other areas of RL all leverage the same data-sharing mechanisms and process that conventional logistics do, placing them within reach of most partners already using B2B.

Given the compatibility of Reverse Logistics with conventional B2B integration resources and logistics, Rl is a worthy consideration as a profitable undertaking for B2B-integrated organizations in the coming year.

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B2B Integration is Strengthening Oil and Natural Gas Transactions

In a recently-implemented tripartite B2B integration effort, Numaligarh Refinery, Limited has streamlined crude oil supply and invoicing with other oil companies, including Oil India, Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Limited.

Coordinating crude oil transactions via B2B “will enable to NRL cover transactions worth over [$1.7 billion] per annum with OIL and over [$645 million] with ONGC into the ambit of IT-enabled settlement,” according to a statement given at the implementation’s roll-out event in Nazira, Assam.

The increased automation will increase transparency and business efficiency, the statement said. NRL has implemented similar B2B partnerships recently with several petroleum marketing companies, and has implemented e-payment with suppliers and service providers.

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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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The Rise of APIs for B2B Integration

APIs are everywhere. Companies are exposing APIs to generate new revenue streams. By exposing applications and data to the outside world via APIs, companies can monetize their existing IT infrastructure. That means they can generate additional revenue without significant investment.

Netflix has over 100,000 DVD titles that it exposes through APIs for integration with over 200 devices, including several type of mobile devices. By delivering data through APIs, Netflix not only created a new revenue stream but also became a leader in this category. Stripe is a new start up which processes payments and exposes its services via an API suite. APIs are at the front, right and center of business model transformations happening today.

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