European Companies Ill-Prepared to Support Business Collaboration

Economist Intelligence Unit research says European firms view collaboration as strategic, but few tap tools, processes to achieve it

SUNNYVALE, Calif., September 16, 2014 – Technology has made it easier than ever for companies to manage the complex web of trading partners around the globe on whom their business increasingly depends. But according to a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), most European firms are not fully leveraging the tools available to them to connect and collaborate in ways that drive innovation and advantage. While forward-thinking organizations across the Continent are embracing social tools and business networks to operate in new ways, the vast majority are watching from the sidelines, and missing opportunities to move their businesses ahead. On September 25, the EIU, in conjunction with Ariba, an SAP Company, will host an interactive webinar designed to help companies get in the game and deliver value.

“No business is an island. Whether it is through outsourcing, partnership or simple supplier-customer interactions, all businesses are reliant on the relationships they have with their peers. So the case for collaborating with trading partners effectively is clear,” said Pete Swabey, Senior Editor, Thought Leadership, the EIU. “However, few organizations are using the full range of collaboration options available to them.”

It’s not that they don’t see the importance of collaboration. Through a survey of 281 executives from across business functions at EMEA-based companies with at least $500 million in revenue, the EIU found that 86% of respondents view collaboration as a strategic capability. And 93% say they are creating value from it.

“These days, you cannot stop improving business processes when they reach your company's borders,” says survey participant Heiko Rumpl, European e-business director at industrial parts distributer Brammer. “You need to improve the competitiveness of your value network if you want to improve the competitiveness of your own organization.”

Brammer is doing this by using technology to better collaborate and build trust with its customers. For example, the company offers data analytics services through which customers can analyse their spending with Brammer and optimise their procurement strategies.

“Sometimes they can see in our data analysis solutions that we sold a product to one of their plants at a cheaper price than we did to another plant,” Rumpl says. “But we don’t hide it from them because transparency builds trust. And without trust, value cannot be released between trading partners.”

Brammer doesn’t charge for the services. Instead, Rumpl says, the company uses them to grow market share.

While 27 percent of executives surveyed shared this as a priority for collaborating with partners, 49 percent cited increasing customer satisfaction as their primary goal. And like Brammer, they too, are using information-sharing tools to achieve it. A large European supply chain operations company, for instance, works with its customer, a UK clothes retailer, to gain visibility of its suppliers’ performance so it can prioritise warehouse workloads and provide advance warning of any delays.

Yet for many companies, achieving such results remains difficult. “Collaboration is beyond some customer organizations,” says Craig Lardner, global president of The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. “They cannot get out of the old conflict of procurement verses supplier sales.”

In addition to outlining the full findings of the report, the September 25 webinar will provide attendees with practical, actionable insights designed to help companies break down such barriers to collaboration and enable new processes that create value across their operations. The free session will take place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. CET and will feature Mr. Swabey and Alex Saric, VP of Business Networks Marketing, SAP. To register, visit:

About Ariba, an SAP Company

Ariba is the world’s business commerce network. Ariba combines industry-leading cloud-based applications with the world's largest web-based trading community to help companies discover and collaborate with a global network of partners. Using the Ariba® Network, businesses of all sizes can connect to their trading partners anywhere, at any time from any application or device to buy, sell and manage their cash more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Companies around the world use the Ariba Network to simplify inter-enterprise commerce and enhance the results that they deliver. Join them at:

About SAP
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 261,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit

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