Today’s enterprise is more virtual and connected than ever. And when it comes to managing the resources and processes that make things go, traditional models and systems no longer apply.
To survive what will surely go down in history as one of the worst recessions the world has ever seen, companies of all stripes looked inward. They cut costs and learned to do more with less, and invested heavily in technologies to streamline their internal operations and automate key financial and business processes.
But the world operates differently today. Companies own less infrastructure, inventory and manufacturing equipment than ever. They’ve outsourced everything from customer service to supply chain. And a growing portion of their workforce is not on their full-time payroll.
Welcome to the Virtual Enterprise
Companies today operate on more flexible models that require them to rapidly assemble resources on a project basis to address the biggest challenges of the moment and disassemble processes just as quickly to make their business more agile and profitable. They are increasingly looking externally for innovations – whether it’s tapping call centers and third-party logistics providers to enable new models for customer engagement; or outside design partners and knowledge workers for product and service innovations; or contract manufacturers for assembling products new and more efficient ways.
“Business is no longer about just executing a process within a company, but across an entire value chain,” said Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions. “It’s not only about the intelligence within an organization, but the unprecedented intelligence of multiple networks that are developed through dynamic communities. It’s not simply about automating and doing business processes faster, but tapping collective insights and best practices to do things better and better and in entirely new ways.”
And this requires a new approach to resource management.
Today’s new business models demand higher levels of agility and knowledge frameworks. And the only way to enable this is through dynamic communities that connect you with the applications, intelligence and partners you need to discover, connect and collaborate in the simplest possible way.
The Networked Model
Throughout history, businesses have attempted to capitalize on advances in technology to drive step changes in their performance. The first wave of productivity was driven by client-server technology and desktop applications that simplified routine tasks to make individual employees more productive and enable more efficient sharing of information among peers. Then came enterprise resource applications (ERP) that automated key financial and business processes and enabled collaboration across the organization.
The next wave of business innovation will come from extending these processes and systems beyond the four walls of the enterprise.
The Next Wave of Innovation
Personal networks from Facebook to Uber have made it simple for consumers to shop, share and consume in new and more informed ways. When shopping on Amazon, for instance, consumers don’t worry about connecting to individual merchants, banks or credit card companies. It’s all done for them within the network.
Business networks provide an equally simple and scalable way for companies to discover, connect and collaborate with the trading partners and resources they need to operate in today’s dynamic world. With a few clicks, companies can shop for goods and services, place and manage orders and pay for them electronically.They can view and manage spend across all major categories and manage their entire workforce –temporary and full-time employees alike. And they can engage customers across multiple channels – all through a single, connected platform.
Just as network-powered upstarts like Square and Airbnb are creating new models that are transforming entire industries, business networks are leveraging the automation, scale, and ubiquity of the cloud to further simplify the way complex business gets done. And companies that tap into such engines of innovation can enable the agility, speed and efficiency required to manage resources in a new and dynamic way.
This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.