April 2012 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

Collaborative Trade Communities Keep Companies Competitive

Tags: Logistics I.T.

Bryn Heimbeck is CEO, Trade Tech Inc., 425-837-9000

Q: What is the primary advantage of Collaborative Trade Communities?

A: The way they function is much simpler than how most companies do business today. We spend a significant amount of effort and time tracking what our supply chain partners are doing. This includes sending instructions and entering them into corresponding systems, communicating and updating change orders, and monitoring outcomes.

In cloud-based trade communities, each party has a specific role, and they work together in the same environment—hence the name Collaborative Trade Community. Information is entered once, and everyone who needs to see it has immediate visibility. This very quickly reduces workload and brings into focus exactly what is going on.

Q: Are there other benefits to Collaborative Trade Communities?

A: The efficiency gains are clear wins, but the real financial benefits come from the flexibility Collaborative Trade Communities bring to the supply chain. In today's environment, we rely on workers to know what they are supposed to do. In large, diverse supply chains, training needs can be considerable.

Getting supply chains up and running correctly is challenging, and it is an even bigger challenge to introduce changes once they are running. We also rely on systems today to document what humans have done, rather than to instruct them on what they are called to do.

Collaborative Trade Communities rely on workflow systems that describe roles and use sequence templates to describe what each worker in the supply chain is expected to do for any given order or shipment.

This projects control over a global supply chain and enables supply chain managers to immediately see when there are variations to the current work process. The result is significant flexibility that allows supply chains to react more quickly to strategy changes that are needed to keep the corporation competitive as it reacts to market shifts.

Q: Why is this approach growing in popularity now?

A: The advent of the Internet allows users to access cloud-based systems anywhere in the world. Until now, we had systems, but they could only feasibly be shared inside a corporation, and only on a national basis.

Global integration with trading partners and vendors was simply too expensive or not available at all. The Internet—and with it, cloud-based computing—opens up a new and rich environment for us all to do business in a different way.