Transactional Data Interchange: The Large/Small Company Disconnect

KPMG’s 2013 Global Manufacturing Outlook features a diagram that immediately caught my attention when I saw it. It shows the variance of how large (companies over $5B in revenue) and smaller companies (companies under $5B in revenue) transact and share information with supply chain partners. Note: the data contained in the study is based on a survey conducted with The Economist with a decent sample size (300+ companies).

KPMG’s findings suggest that the dominant form of data-sharing for large companies are web-based partner portals (coming in at 40%) when it comes to transmitting information across the supply chain. 39% of those surveyed use email, fax or mail as a means of sharing information. And 37% use B2B/EDI as a method for transmitting information to supply chain partners.

This contrasts with smaller companies, of which 45% use email, fax or mail for transmitting information. Curiously, a larger percentage (40%) compared with the larger company sample uses traditional B2B/EDI networks. But 25% use “contract call-offs” as a means of sharing information – information that, by nature, is unlikely to be dynamic.

The major gap is that smaller companies aren’t adopting web-based portals and technology to relay information. Of course there might be a good reason for this (e.g., in its current form, an EDI message can cost significantly less than a cXML one carried over the SAP/ Ariba network, depending on volume). But generally speaking, the irony of these findings is that new web-based interchange capabilities offered by a range of req-to-pay, supplier network, platform and A/P automation vendors can offer a much less expensive (and more effective) means of sharing information than first-generation web-based tools in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments.

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