Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=6504370
In many industries, reducing the time it takes to bring a product to market is considered a key to gaining a competitive advantage, or at least keeping up with the competition. In consumer electronics, buying patterns and market studies can show that buyers are interested in a particular type of product--still, the first company to market generally wins when products become outdated quickly. In the automotive field, slashing new-car development time is critical, because buying decisions are based as much on fashion as on performance or reliability.
A survey of 162 senior business and IT executives conducted by management consulting and systems-integration firm NerveWire in the first quarter shows that companies with a moderate to very high level of integration with trading partners are making significant gains in reducing cycle times. A large percentage of respondents report that they've also improved their products by collaborating with their trading partners.
Among companies that have achieved a high or very high level of integration with their trading partners, about a third have slashed their cycle times. About a quarter of companies with a moderate degree of partner integration have shaved product cycle times. More than one in five companies are seeing improvements in their products as the result of partner integration, with the largest gains among companies that have achieved a high degree of integration.
Companies with a very high level of trading-partner integration have a significant edge when it comes to generating new revenue and lowering costs. The survey shows costs are lower for 30% of companies with a very high level of integration with their trading partners--those with most interactions involving tightly integrated or shared business processes, applications, and databases. Less than 15% of companies with a moderate or high level of integration have reduced costs. About 40% of companies with a very high level of integration with trading partners report revenue increases, while less than 15% of companies reporting a moderate or high level of trading-partner integration achieve revenue increases.
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The fact that companies with a high degree of trading-partner integration rank security tools as most important indicates a strong focus on doing business safely over the Internet. Design-collaboration tools and Internet portals and extranets, key technologies for partner collaboration, are next, with supply-chain management trailing.
Supply-chain management software, Internet content management, and E-learning rank about the same among companies with minimal trading-partner integration. EDI and XML, an old and a new way to communicate with partners electronically, are in a dead heat for last in importance.
More than three in five survey respondents say they're integrated with trading partners at least to a moderate degree in ways that are important to retaining or acquiring customers. Slightly less than half say they have a moderate degree of integration important to customer activity; 13% say they're integrated to a high degree, and only 4% say they have a very high degree of integration.
About 45% say they have a moderate degree of integration important to fulfillment and service. Slightly less than a fifth say they have a high degree of integration that relates to such activity; only about 5% say they have a very high degree of integration that helps with product fulfillment and service issues.