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(Back To) The Future Of Business Networks

By Dan Wellers

(Back To) The Future Of Business Networks image Don Tapscott5

Those of us involved in the early days of “trading networks” and “B2B hubs” remember the hyperfueled stratospheric valuations of many of these so-called early movers, based on promised benefits that never actually materialized. Well, we all know how that particular movie ended.

Since then, however, while billions of dollars have been spent on perfecting processes within the four walls of a company, huge inefficiencies persist in how companies buy from and sell to each other.

But things are changing quickly. A new generation of business networks for trading and collaboration are now living up to their early expectations, transforming business as dramatically as the assembly line did.

We see three areas where companies can realize enormous benefits from participating in business networks:

  • Greater engagement across the value chain. In today’s global, networked economy, companies must connect with complex and ever-increasing webs of partners – from customers and suppliers to employees and business partners. Building on the early days of trading networks in the late 1990s, when the promised benefits were primarily discovery and efficiency, social and mobile technologies are enabling new levels of engagement, transparency, collaboration, and trust. These developments are attracting more and more businesses, accelerating the network effect of ever-increasing value as the number of participants rise.
  • Intelligence gathered from the network. As technology atomizes value chains into digital pieces that can be quickly recombined into disruptive innovations, organizations will be able to act with the speed and direction required to be competitive. Companies will use business networks to quickly discover and onboard partners and suppliers with the resources they require, find, and transact with customers to build new markets and collaborate with and gain insights from community interactions.
  • The emergence of the commerce graph. Just as a social graph maps one’s personal network of friends and peers, business network participants will be able to create their own commerce graph – a visual analysis of the unique connections and information flows between the array of business partners required to run and grow their business. Using analytics, businesses will extract new insights from these connections to better coordinate processes across their entire value chains, maximize sales, hold down costs, and optimize cash flow.

The capability to successfully operate within business networks will be the difference between winning and losing. We believe these networks will be the platform on which successful businesses innovate, collaborate, grow, and continually evolve – at both speed and scale.

Please let us know if you agree.