Poor B2B integration puts UK firms at risk of losing competitive advantage in global economy
60% of UK firms fail to dump underperforming B2B integration suppliers
B2B integration is an essential capability for all UK businesses functioning in an increasingly connected and interdependent global economy. Automating the way a business connects, communicates and transacts across extensive global supply and demand chains can have a massive impact on the overall cost of doing business.
The survey concluded that British businesses which are poorly integrated with their suppliers and trading partners are at risk of losing their competitive advantage to better-integrated foreign, and not just national, rivals.
Key to the survey findings is the fact that a significant proportion (41%) of firms believe that the disruption and cost of changing underperforming B2B integration vendors is usually more trouble than it’s worth. Almost as many (37%) cite internal complacency and inertia as reasons why they never get around to improving their B2B systems and processes.
The findings support the generally held view that many B2B integration projects simply don’t deliver the capabilities expected by their customer. As a result, almost half (48%) of the respondents claimed to be dissatisfied with their current B2B integration capabilities. Meanwhile, just 40% felt that past projects and initiatives to improve B2B performance have generally met expectations.
These findings also help explain why so few British firms have nailed B2B integration to any significant degree, despite the billions of pounds invested each year on B2B integration projects. Less than a tenth (9%) of UK firms have integrated more than 75% of their B2B transactions without the need for some kind of manual intervention such as re-keying data. Meanwhile, over two-thirds (68.2%) admit they have to manually re-key some aspect of data in over half of all business transactions.
According to Dale Vile, research director at Freeform Dynamics and regular speaker on B2B integration issues, the findings shine the spotlight on a fundamental misconception about B2B integration. He said: “Decades of relying on bespoke solutions have conditioned many to accept high costs and inflexibility as norm, especially when large managed service firms are in the mix. 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.”
Mikko Soirola, vice president of Liaison Technologies, believes that the subject of B2B integration must be taken much more seriously by UK firms. He said: “With the best will in the world, data integration is not the most glamorous of business subjects, but like it or not it is now fundamental to nearly every business. However, as the survey indicates some organisations are prepared to put up with poor service despite the fact that by engaging a specialist supplier this would not happen. We often have to pick up the pieces after being called in following unsatisfactory implementations.”
Despite specialists like Soirola promoting the possibilities of full B2B integration and highlighting the risks of failing to adopt them, making B2B a top business priority is a problem for many firms. Almost half (47%) said that B2B integration, despite its potential, often takes a back seat to other more glamorous or politically motivated initiatives.
Soirola concluded: “Because of the benefits it can deliver when done correctly, I feel that B2B integration should be viewed as one of the most profitable strategic initiatives for UK businesses rather than an inconvenient cost. UK firms that wish to remain competitive should make an honest assessment of their current B2B capabilities and, if they are underperforming or accepting sub-standard solutions, should refuse mediocrity and raise their expectancies. The specialists are out there and the market may be pleasantly surprised by both expertise and costs.”
The survey was conducted by independent research firm Freeform Dynamics. The full findings of the white paper ‘Effective B2B Integration:
About Liaison Technologies
Liaison Technologies is a global integration and data management company providing unique and high-value solutions to securely move, transform and manage business information on-premise or in the cloud. With a comprehensive array of business-to-
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