Business embraces third-party collaboration

C-level executives are increasingly turning to collaboration with their business networks as a way in which to win new markets and address quickly evolving customer needs, according to results of a new independent survey today.

The survey - conducted by BusinessWeek Research Services (BWRS) and commissioned by SAP - showed these executives are also planning to expand their collaboration efforts, including outsourcing, even further over the next three years.

Within this trend, they emphasised technology and its role in facilitating integration to support their companies' business goals of increased levels of collaboration with customers, partners and suppliers. But only half of the 353 C-level respondents were satisfied that their IT infrastructures would be able to support their collaboration strategies during the next three years.

Usually seen as the preserve of larger enterprises, the survey also found nearly twice as many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) expect to rely heavily on collaboration within the next three years.

Approximately one out of three respondents identified access to new markets and customers as one of the top benefits to collaboration today. And roughly half of the respondents said they are currently counting on partners for research and development (R&D), manufacturing, marketing, logistics, distribution, customer service, human resources or other corporate functions. This is expected to rise to two-thirds by 2011.

Large and midsize businesses also plan to outsource 18 per cent of their operations by 2011. This is an increase from the 13.4 per cent of their operations they already outsource to date.

But only half of the executive respondents were confident that their IT infrastructures will be able to support their collaboration strategies during the next three years. The researcher said this underscores the crucial role IT plays in facilitating collaboration and enabling business transformation.

"While chief executives are embracing the concept of developing customer-centric business models by optimising the company's network of employees, suppliers, customers, partners and distributors, IT needs to play a strategic role to make it all work," it stated.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.