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2012

In my last post I discussed the second point of what I am referring to as the collaboration framework, or the three nodes of the collaborative network;

  • Internal technology and capabilities,
  • Value added networks providing the ‘glue’ between partners and
  • Third is the technology capability of your partners.

 

The second topic covered the value added network, or VAN, that can be used to provide and integration layer between your internal business participants and your external extended supply chain partners.  I suggested that the VAN will begin to transform, with the help of their clients, into a Value Partnership Network with their clients to build a community of extended partners that make up and utilize the collaborative framework methods and technologies.  The VAN will provide the ‘glue’ that tie the external partners to the internal business participants and provide the technology and methods to support the collaborative framework.

 

So, let me begin this discussion on your external partners’ capabilities and the methods to tie all three nodes of the collaborative network together into a framework that will support and encourage an environment providing mutually beneficial opportunities and to develop partner-relationships across your entire extended supply chain network.  The relationship with your external partners will require two critical concepts to determine the success of the community;

  • A technology capability that supports the current communication needs,
  • An objective to develop a partnership with the members of the community that supports a set of mutually beneficial objectives.  (I see this second objective to develop the partnership relationships across your entire extended supply chain network as the key to success.)

 

The value partnership network provides the technology ‘glue’ between the partners that will provide a robust and highly flexible framework to support the growing technical and operational capabilities across the community without requiring each member of the community to support the same technical capabilities as the other partners in the community.  The technical capabilities of the extended supply chain network must be forward and backward compatible to support the ever changing capabilities of all partners in the community.  This framework gives you the opportunity to develop a decoupled network to support your partners’ current and future capabilities.

 

I suggest that you develop the collaboration framework based on a strategy of supporting your partners’ current needs and capabilities while providing the framework to support future needs and capabilities.  This is where it becomes beneficial to the community to group your partners and the framework methods that support the partnerships into groupings of business needs and objectives along with technical needs, objectives and capabilities (current and future).  This is how your communication and collaboration methods and technology that decouples your partners will become an advantage. 

 

The VAN concept of connecting your partners will provide the method that decouples both the technology and collaborative methods to meet the variable needs of each of the partners in the community.  You can then divide your partners into technology leaders, those on the leading edge of technology and mainstream partners, and those that follow the current standards.  You can also divide your partners based on the collaborative capabilities and objectives.  You can then mix and match the capabilities across your collaborative community to take advantage of the objectives and capabilities of your community.

 

In my next discussion I will begin to pull all of these disparate pieces together to describe potential strategies that can provide a means to grow and expand the capabilities of your community along with the benefits of developing these communities.  I believe there can be huge benefits achieved by developing these value added partnerships that are mutually beneficial to all partners in the community.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Have you developed a roadmap to solidify these relationships and increase their value to your community?

 

What technologies do you utilized to support your extended supply chain?  Do you have a partnership with a VAN and how do you take advantage of their services?  How does EDI transactions and the EDI network play into your current extended supply chain and future plans?

 

Have you defined a map of the integration points within your extended supply chain?

In my last post I discussed the first of what I am referring to as the collaboration framework, or the three nodes of the collaborative network;

 

-          internal technology and capabilities,

 

-          value added networks providing the ‘glue’ between partners and

 

-          third is the technology capabilities of your partners. 

 

So the first topic covered the internal capabilities and the need for methods including a flexible foundation to grow and expand as your collaborative network grows.  In this discussion I will discuss the external integration node of the framework or the value added networks.  In the past, or in the beginning of collaboration, when the key aspect of your framework was the connectivity and translation of standard EDI transaction sets in an asynchronous manner the VAN provide stable, consistent and recoverable network connectivity to your partners.

 

We are coming to a crossroads now for the VAN, and the most successful will transition into additional services to extend their value.  These are not your grandparents VANS anymore!  The VANs of the future will support the collaborative network by providing the connectivity to your partners in the extended supply chain network in a manner that brings the greatest value to the partnership.  I believe that the market is moving towards a value added partnership rather than the traditional client / service provider relationship.  The successful VAN will transition into this Value Added Partnership relationship at first as a means of survival, but I believe they will quickly find out that this Value Added Partnership relationship will create a mutually beneficial opportunities with the Value Added Partner providing the glue, both through technology and standard methods moving the collaborative network to new levels of capabilities and value for their communities. 

 

The needs and value opportunities are changing for each and every partner across your extended supply chain network!  In addition to changing values, the opportunities, methods and technology changes are speeding up in a discontinuous manner.  This era of discontinuous change and changing values is the key reason why your collaborative extended supply chain network will become critical to the success for the network.  Your relationship with the VAN should take advantage of their strengths to develop a mutually beneficial partnership that will grow through developing new value opportunities for your collaborative community. 

 

We are coming to a time where the definition of the collaborative network will be taking on new meaning and importance.  I believe the success and value that Apple has derived from their extended supply chain will pale in comparison to the values that can, and will, be achieved when the extended collaborative network jells into a true value added partnership.  Considering the complexities and risks involved in the extended supply chain, the only way to prosper is through a strong collaborative partnership supported by the technical collaborative framework and methods.

 

In my next outing I will begin the discussion on your external partners’ capabilities and the methods to tie all three nodes of the collaborative network together into a framework that will support and encourage an environment that encourages and provides mutually beneficial opportunities and to develop a partnership relationship across your extended supply chain network.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Have you developed a roadmap to solidify these relationships and increase their value to your community?

 

What technologies do you utilized to support your extended supply chain?  Do you have a partnership with a VAN and how do you take advantage of their services?  How does EDI transactions and the EDI network play into your current extended supply chain and future plans?

 

Have you defined a map of the integration points within your extended supply chain?

In my last post I began a discussion on the collaboration framework.  I suggested that this framework can be identified, or grouped into three nodes;

-          internal technology and capabilities,

-          value added networks providing the ‘glue’ between partners and

-          third is the technology capabilities of your partners. 

 

These three nodes are critical to your collaborative framework, just as critical as the nodes are to your framework your methods must be flexible in order to grow and change with the business climate growth and expanding capabilities that will come through the growth of your extended collaborative network.  In fact, the flexibility is at once the most important but also the hardest to clearly define of your objectives and framework requirements. 

 

Let me briefly introduce the importance of flexibility for your collaborative framework, this is only a brief overview meant to provide an introduction to the concept and importance.  Flexibility in your framework is a necessity because you must be able to support the changing needs and capabilities of your partners and the network framework itself without major impact or revisions.   This is critical because the capabilities of your collaborative network will be growing and changing as your network expands and your partners, capabilities grow.  For instance, you may have a partner that currently utilizes EDI transactions to communicate and track progress within the supply chain, if and when this partner adds new capabilities, or requirements, they may utilize new technology to incorporate a more real time communication, for instance.  This would require your framework to be capable of multiple methods of communication from one partner.  In addition you must also provide for the necessity to transition from one technology to another, without impacting your extended supply chain and collaboration partners.

 

Now back to the internal technology and capabilities overview.  I suggest a hierarchical approach to the internal technology and capabilities; first I suggest an integration layer to perform the translations and mapping necessary and then as a second step you should develop a business intelligence layer.  This framework approach allows you to easily ‘swap out’ technologies without impacting your critical supply chain and business systems.  Each piece in the hierarchy will provide benefits and continuity to your capabilities without tightly coupling the technologies to the business systems.  This ‘loosely coupled’ framework is a critical aspect to ingraining enhanced flexibility into both your internal and external collaboration framework.  You can develop a set of standard methods and transactions that are utilized by your internal supply chain and business systems that will be provided by your integration layer.  Your business intelligence can also be standardized through the integration layer to provide continuity without depending on a specific technology or method.

 

In my next postings I will add to the discussion by covering your external value added networks.  In the past, or in the beginning of collaboration when the key aspect of your framework was the connectivity and translation of standard EDI transaction sets in an asynchronous manner the VAN provide stable, consistent and recoverable network connectivity to your partners.  The most successful VAN’s are now transitioning into additional services to extend their value. 

 

In addition, I will to tie the development of the framework together with the importance of a ‘standards based’ model to support a flexible, efficient and easily expandable framework to support your extended collaborative community.  The addition of the VAN to the discussion will allow an extended discussion on the connectivity and even reasons why it is still advantageous to engage with a partner for services.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Have you developed a roadmap to solidify these relationships and increase their value to your community?

 

What technologies do you utilized to support your extended supply chain?  Do you have a partnership with a VAN and how do you take advantage of their services?  How does EDI transactions and the EDI network play into your current extended supply chain and future plans?

 

Have you defined a map of the integration points within your extended supply chain?

I connected up with Patrick Byrne after one of my recent postings regarding the collaboration framework strategy and development.   Patrick is the inventor of a Systems Engagement Platform that facilitates Self Organizing Business Networks.  I found these tools and framework fascinating because of the Dynamic Network Architecture (DNA) concept and networks framework that his company has developed to support the ever growing collaboration requirements in a flexible and robust manner.

Patrick discovered a singularity that organizes shapes and drives the time, process, people and collaboration dynamics in every industry from source to consumer.  The singularity can be mass customized into multilateral processes, and delivered as a cloud service to connect any source to consumer network; the service can be self-customized by individual business users to shape their own unique network user experience

Business users can visually map, model, integrate, simulate & execute the multilateral processes of sourcing, supply, storing, streaming, staffing, supporting, servicing and selling for any end-to-end business ecosystem.  Patrick developed a conceptual framework called Systems of Engagement that are industry business services that are driven by business users and require no software code to self-organize, self-configure and self-customize on the fly.  Systems of Engagement scale from simple building blocks that are reliable, stackable, cheap & freely interconnectable. I was intrigued by this framework because I could see
these are very powerful tools and practices that can provide a great impact on an organization’s capabilities through collaboration based on a flexible and robust network concept. 

I thought it would be interesting to provide these insights and concepts from Patrick.  Everyone discusses a ‘framework’ for collaboration.  Patrick provides his viewpoints and also provides some background on specific offerings to support the special needs of developing a framework in a collaborative network.

 

Patrick, can you describe your viewpoint for developing a collaborative framework? 

Globalization has brought two major challenges to business today – increased business complexity and commoditization:

1)      Increased complexity comes in the form of enterprises  having to deal with more partners, across greater geographical distances, resulting in longer lead times

2)      Commoditization brings mass production on a global scale that floods the market with products anywhere at any time, and with it comes continuous price compression. This pricing regime undermines the business model viability for retail businesses

Globalization has also shifted the value creation paradigm from the enterprise to the source to consumer ecosystems. In business ecosystems - roles, rules, relationships, responsibilities and workflows are dynamic. Current legacy systems of record within the enterprise were never designed to support this dynamic environment. 

As a result, enterprises have moved from the certainty of being efficient integrated entities, which were masters of their own destiny, to becoming silos within their wider business ecosystems. Wal-Mart is a leading example of this phenomenon.

The compelling need for enterprises to remain relevant in this scenario is business model differentiation.

The three primary factors involved in achieving that are time, process and collaboration.

1)      The time it takes an enterprise to sense changes in uncertain demand; and the time it takes the enterprise to respond to those changes

2)      How the enterprise combines, integrates, coordinates and executes it’s business model within its business ecosystem

3)      How the enterprise collaborates with its source to consumer business partners to co-create, capture and consign value within the business ecosystem

 

How did you come to the point of building out your offering collaborative framework and methods?

I was the CEO of Samsung Electronics Australia in 1997 when the Korean economy went into free-fall during the Asian financial crisis (a forerunner to the great financial crisis of 2008).

This caused a crisis in confidence among Samsung’s customers, suppliers, partners, staff and banks. We had a matter of weeks to come up with a collaborative business model that would satisfy all parties.

This experience was the trigger to formulate collaborative systems of engagement that could optimize value co-creation, capture and consignment; and eliminate rather than shift waste throughout end-to-end business ecosystems.

How do you suggest ensuring the continuous growth of your collaborative network?  How can your methods help to ensure the growth?

1)      The systems of engagement are business user driven, enabling business users to dynamically connect many-to-many source to consumer networks, similar to the way LinkedIn connects business professional networks.

2)      Business users can dynamically shape their roles, rules, relationships, responsibilities and workflows; within their chosen business categories to create unique collaborative business models with their trading partners

3)      They can selectively vary their involvement and adapt to uncertain demand in real time.

Growth then comes from adding more use, uses and usage to the systems of engagement within particular vertical industries. This is possible because the Dynamic Network Architecture (DNA) that organizes, shapes and drives source to consumer networks, is based on modular building blocks; that are simple, reliable, replicable, stackable, cheap and freely interconnectable.

This approach ensures that growth is community not product driven.

 

Are there any key points that you look for in your partners from a technology and capabilities perspective?

Corporate leadership traits within our business partners to date have demonstrated a sense of wonder, a student attitude to ecosystem discovery and a passion to challenge the “absolutes” within their particular industry.

 

What technology tools have you used in the past to support the development of your network? 

We originally used Cold Fusion when we started our R&D efforts 12 years ago, because of its ability to handle forms. We then ported the system to a Java environment.

 

How do your methods and capabilities differ from the standard legacy tools and methods? 

1.       Our R&D efforts focused on the non-linear business process dynamics, that trading enterprise networks face every day with their customers, suppliers, partners and competitors. This was at a time when all sensible vendors were focused on the enterprise systems of record.

2.       Our goal was to produce business service frameworks (visual mapping, modeling, simulation and executable processes) that were embedded with technology the way cars are embedded with technology.

3.       The systems of engagement platform enable business users to self-configure, organize, customize and execute many-to-many real time business networks in a “code free” environment.

 

Where do you see the capabilities in 5 and 10 years?

Real time dynamic network trading processes that are intuitive and augment reality beyond what I can currently comprehend.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this posting:

 

I am very interested in your thoughts regarding the framework and concepts that Patrick has discussed.  Do you agree with these concepts?

 

I am interested in your feedback and interest in these types of interviews.  I will continue to periodically provide interviews with industry leaders in the area of collaboration.  I think this is an extremely important concept and will have a huge impact on the future supply chain capabilities and your extended network and partner integration. 

As promised in my last posting I will be discussing the collaboration framework, or plumbing, necessary to support a robust collaboration network in your extended supply chain.  I will be the first to admit that this can be a very frustrating and confusing subject.  I also understand, and can relate to many organizations’ reluctance to engage into this particular area.  This is especially understandable during these rough economic times where funding is tight and initiatives are prioritized based on a quick return on investment!  I would trace these challenges back at least twenty years to the early days of EDI, after all, EDI is truly one of the earliest forms of collaborative communications among partners in the extended supply chain.

 

So now we are at a convergence of beneficial technologies that have created a return on investment mine-field of confusing opportunities.  Unfortunately, these beneficial technologies in many ways are competing for the same benefits and opportunities.  The challenge is to traverse the minefield while developing a strategy that utilizes the technologies that best meet the specific requirements along with the capabilities, and needs, of your partners.  Considering these challenges and requirements you will need to develop a framework that is both flexible and robust.  Flexible enough to be able to overcome the challenges you will encounter with establishing the network with your partners.  Robust enough to support the volumes you will achieve with a flexible and growing network.

 

This is a challenging opportunity; to develop a network that integrates your legacy capabilities, a network that can be utilized to extend both your collaborative network and your collaborative capabilities.  It must be a living framework that can expand into capabilities as your extended network expands and grows while maintaining your legacy capabilities that you have spent years developing.  You must develop a strategy with your extended partners to identify your mission and vision for developing and growing a mutually beneficial collaborative network.  It is critical that your technologies leverage the strengths of your partners across the architecture nodes and support the challenges your partners are experiencing. 

 

I think of the framework architecture as being made up of three nodes; internal technology capabilities, value added networks that provide and support the ‘glue’ between partners in the collaborative network, and the last is the technology capabilities of your partners.  This must be a living framework that can flex and expand and contract to support the needs and capabilities of all partners in the network.  The capabilities of the framework must be revised and adjusted as the capabilities and the needs of the partners change and grow.  The benefits of this type of framework will extend across your extended supply chain network and the objective must be to ‘raise all boats’.  This is a different type of strategic initiative than most in that the only way to achieve benefits is to ensure that all partners in the network achieve benefits and growth.  You truly will not be successful in this initiative unless all your partners are successful.

 

In my next postings I will begin to discuss the three nodes of the framework, or plumbing.  In addition, I will tie the development of the framework together with the importance of a ‘standards based’ model to support a flexible, efficient and easily expandable framework to support your extended collaborative community.

 

Now for the audience participation portion of this program……

 

Have you developed a roadmap to solidify these relationships and increase their value to your community?

 

What technologies do you utilized to support your extended supply chain?  How does EDI transactions and the EDI network play into your current extended supply chain and future plans?

 

Have you defined a map of the integration points within your extended supply chain?