5 tips for modern B2B order orchestration

By | 4 minute read | March 10, 2021

Have you been tasked to transform your B2B order orchestration operations because of the enormous supply and demand disruptions experienced in 2020? You’re not alone. In a recent online interactive session, supply chain leaders at industrial companies and OEMs told us that their top priorities include flawless order orchestration, real-time inventory availability and accurate and on-time fulfillment.

Joe Cicman, Senior Analyst at Forrester, and I, offered advice and answered questions about how to address gaps in technology and processes to tackle these priorities. Here are five tips we shared for B2B organizations to get started:

1. Start with your digital experience strategy

Any investments in digital experience technology should be driven by your digital experience strategy and your customer journey. Work closely with your customer experience team to:

  • Define business and brand objectives
  • Identify customers’ digital interactions and devices
  • Prioritize and fund interactions that benefit customers and are valuable to you

Your digital experience strategy will also help you determine how to prioritize initiatives like developing direct-to-consumer models, expanding into marketplaces, and leveraging the power of cloud. Your priorities need to be informed by your customers, not outside forces and trends.

2. Layer in modern technology

Industrial businesses and manufacturers often grow through mergers and acquisitions and have multiple legacy technologies already in place, including siloed ERP systems for different brands and geographies. Fortunately, with today’s modern order orchestration technology, companies can transform their order orchestration capabilities without doing a complete technology overhaul. By providing a layer of process on top of systems of record, order orchestration insulates the business from the complexity of having to migrate or merge existing ERP systems. You can quickly bring to market new capabilities that drive value for your business and customers.

For supply chain leaders who tackled the challenge years ago with a homegrown order management system, it’s time to take a fresh look at what’s available today. Unless you have a team of software engineers skilled in the latest technology, there’s probably a lot of capabilities you aren’t taking advantage of — and potentially losing opportunities to drive revenue, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised with the flexibility of today’s solutions and how they can be tailored to meet your unique business needs.

3. Focus your digital experience technology strategy

Innovative firms tell Forrester they use the following principles to help focus their digital experience technology strategy:

  • Define a digital experience roadmap – not a one-time web or mobile project – to guide your plan and ensure you gain strategic value.
  • Use customer journey maps to bring relevancy to your investment by allowing you to identify points of friction and prioritize.
  • Focus on a digital experience platform and a digital operations platform for the core of your technology investment.
  • Shape your vendor choices by considering solutions that are cloud-hosted, mobile first, insights driven and loosely coupled.

These technology principles help lay a foundation for the future that enables business responsiveness and cost reduction.

4. Build momentum with quick wins

The sooner you can demonstrate you’re driving revenue and optimizing costs, the more support you’ll gain to expand your digital experience program. To do this, start by taking inventory of what you have and where you are in your journey. Understand what is currently hindering you from moving forward, so you can identify what you can do to help improve processes or remove any blockers. Find ways to minimize risk and achieve continuity in your business.

When you look at technology, like order management platforms, there is a natural place to start and progress. Inventory visibility is a clear first step; it’s quick and efficient to implement. With real-time, end-to-end inventory views across divisions, geographies, channels and partners, you can see where shortages exist and inventory resides. A central dashboard makes it easier to manage inventory across your fulfillment network with views into key business metrics and events. Inventory visibility also unlocks other use cases to mature your order orchestration operations.

5. Address the culture shift

Implementing technology is one thing, but getting your team on board is another. Culture is the glue that binds people, processes and technology. Identifying the behaviors impeding innovation and transformation efforts is the key to understanding which cultural attributes you need to address. Risk aversion, product-driven decisions, siloed work patterns, and hierarchical accountability will all slow digital transformation and cause systemic problems that will make it difficult to extract value from transformation efforts. Companies that embrace the digital experience foster a culture Forrester describes as customer obsessed, empathetic, agile, collaborative, and experimental.

While it’s true that retailers pioneered omnichannel order management, now is an ideal time for B2B companies to take advantage of the comprehensive suite of order orchestration capabilities that are available in the market today. Many B2B companies who got on board early have reaped the benefits of increased revenue, streamlined processes and optimized supply chains. Embracing modern technology to empower your people, processes, and mitigate supply chain disruptions is essential to success now more than ever.