Companies Open Up Back-End Systems

Almost every company will say it's customer-focused. But what happens after these businesses have collected and analyzed consumer data? Some are sharing the information with selected members of their supply chain to create greater sales opportunities. Collaborative practices increase customer satisfaction, boost revenue, reduce operating costs, and provide higher profit margins. In a nutshell, information sharing between companies and business partners pays off.

Chart 1If that's the case, why not take collaboration a step further and hard-wire suppliers to back-end systems? According to a recent InformationWeek Research survey on business-to-business integration, a majority of the 100 IT and business professionals interviewed are doing just that.

For many businesses, the initiative is a foregone conclusion. One in 10 say their company is already reaping collaborative rewards, with back-end systems integration already realized. Two in five report that their employer is in the process of linking with purchasing partners, while half are integrating sales partners' systems. Improved business processes and a reduction in data-entry errors are two of the main benefits these companies expect to receive for their efforts.

While one in five companies are planning or evaluating such connectivity, what's stopping the handful of businesses that aren't ready to integrate? Key reasons for not meshing systems include security concerns and cost implications.

To truly put the customer at the center of business operations, customer demand needs to be hard-wired into the back-end systems that supply these consumers. This means that to be successful, companies should consider connecting all the dots and putting the needs of the customer in front of existing legacy business models and processes.

Who has your company opened its back-end systems to? Let us know at

Lisa Boomer-Smith
Managing Editor, Research
[email protected]

Chart 2 Target Partners
While integrating back-end systems with those of business partners and customers can be fruitful, it's often riddled with problems. Yet despite difficulties, interconnecting E-business processes and back-end systems is one of many endeavors that's making steady progress in this time of ever-tighter budgets. According to the 100 IT and business professionals surveyed by InformationWeek Research, almost three in five have linked their systems to allow for smooth transactions between manufacturers and customers.

Nearly a third of respondents see the merit in integrating with distributors and online industry consortiums. And one in four focus on online private auctions. Value is found in streamlined business processes and cost reductions. However, some companies are still skeptical about the benefits of integration. More than 20% of sites surveyed don't integrate E-business or back-end systems.

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