B2B Managed Services: Who Comes First, The Customer or the Supplier?

We previously reported on the Stanford Graduate School of Business report, B2B Managed Services: Business Value and Adoption Trends, by starting the discussion around the semantics between B2B managed services, as defined in the report, and supplier networks – and whether supplier networks, as we’ve come to know them, are really just part of this larger marker segment. When it comes to adoption levels of B2B managed services in different sets of activities with third parties, suppliers come in second as the means of focus. This suggests that traditional network-type enablement – in this case for all spend types, not just indirect – is important.

Coauthors Dr. Barchi Gillai and Tao Yu suggest that customers come first, with 87% of B2B managed services implementations focusing on this area. Suppliers come in second at 68%, logistics services providers at 49%, financial institutions at 41%, and insurers at 4%. Of course the line between some of these areas (e.g., logistics services providers and suppliers) is not always clear – one could be a sub-segment of the other.

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Source: B2B Managed Services: Business Value and Adoption Trends, Figure 8

Additional summary findings from the report suggest that “B2B managed services have reached a certain level of maturity, as close to half of the participants have been using these services for five years or more, often in more than one geographic region.
” For respondents, “the most important business drivers behind the companies’ original decision to start using B2B managed services were improved customer experience, improved business process efficiency, and reduction in IT costs.”

It is important to take these responses for what they are – a point-in-time look at responses from what is most likely senior IT resources tasked with business integration from the “66 companies” surveyed, featuring 81 respondents in total. If procurement or finance led the responses based on supplier connectivity, the business drivers might have been different. Still, it is valuable to understand that in the eyes of those responsible for generation intra-company integration, customers come first.

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