January 2016 | Commentary | Green Landscape

Greening Your Supply Chain With B2B Automation

Tags: Technology , Supply Chain, Sustainability

Mark Morley is Director, Strategic Product Marketing, Information Exchange, OpenText, 800-499-6544

 

Today's businesses are under increasing pressure to develop more sustainable supply chains, typically part of a broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. With reducing carbon emissions a cornerstone of many CSR-related programs, developing greener logistics and supply chain networks is key.

Replacing manual, paper-based processes with fully automated systems that use electronic business-to-business (B2B) transactions is one major step toward a greener supply chain. Removing thousands of paper-based transactions can amount to a significant sustainable saving across an extended enterprise.

Companies usually send electronic B2B transactions across a cloud-based business network that connects with their global trading partner community. The business network effectively exchanges documents in electronic form—including purchase orders, invoices, advanced ship notices, and order acknowledgements—regardless of industry or business process.

The Environmental Paper Network, a coalition of more than 100 non-profit organizations, developed a comprehensive tool to evaluate the environmental savings a company can realize by removing paper-based transactions. For example, automating the exchange of 1 million paper-based invoices per year represents a saving of nine metric tons of paper or 228 trees. This also saves 375 million BTUs or the equivalent energy saving from four houses per year, and reduces CO2 emissions by 55,877 pounds or the equivalent reduction from five cars per year.

The numbers tell the story: Automating paper-based supply chain transactions is a key step in developing more sustainable supply chains.

Today's chief information officers are quickly deploying cloud-based environments that offer many operational benefits, such as improving infrastructure flexibility to react to changing market conditions or demands. Cloud environments also improve the predictability of the long-term fixed costs of managing business applications.

Companies can choose to automate B2B transactions through on-premises, cloud, or hybrid applications. Selecting a cloud-based business also offers the following indirect benefits:

  • Lowers power consumption requirements. Having an outside provider manage internal servers, networks, and communication equipment also removes the need to manage utilities infrastructures such as power, lighting, and air conditioning.
  • Reduces equipment packaging. Outsourcing server and communications hardware eliminates the need for cardboard boxes, wooden pallets, plastic, and polystyrene packing.
  • Minimizes travel for implementation and support teams. The Software-as-a-Service deployment model allows companies to enable global trading partners quickly and remotely.
  • Transforms how employees access electronic business documents, any time, any place, or anywhere via the "mobile app economy." Cloud-based delivery allows low-powered, mobile devices to access these lightweight software applications.

    Utilizing a global business network can transform business processes, improve customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs, and, subsequently, develop more sustainable supply chain environments. Adopting such a network today will ensure that your company is better positioned to fulfill CSR initiatives and embrace any form of digital disruption that may impact your business in the future.






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