In times of leaner credit availability, change programmes prevail. Many suppliers may be increasingly cautious about extending credit terms to smaller customers, but most companies are looking to maintain profitability through leaner times by re-aligning their organisations to improve productivity.
According to a recent UK study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 64 per cent of the senior executives questioned said that improving operational efficiency was at the top of their agenda, and 57 per cent had planned change programmes as a direct response to the credit crunch.
Such change programmes cost money, in management time, consultancy and often IT investment. But, research carried out for GXS by AMR Research, indicate that many supply chain decision-makers see significant headaches ahead relating to concerns about IT infrastructure. Wise investment in information technology could bring about the productivity gains many companies are looking for.
New product introductions, new channels to market and changes to corporate structure resulting from M&A activity were seen by those surveyed as having the most impact on their B2B projects. Some 54 per cent of UK respondents said that changes to their ERP applications, including standardisation, consolidation, upgrades and expansion, would have a significant impact in the next 18 months.
Another 44 per cent pointed to the planned centralisation of IT resources into regional or even global shared services divisions and 26 per cent said the need to upgrade from legacy technology to Services Oriented Architecture would have a significant impact in the next 18 months.
Times may be becoming a little tighter, but a focus on productivity and efficiency is often reflected in the operational issues surrounding the supply chain. Such operational efficiency is, more often than not, achieved through the application of appropriate technology that delivers visibility across the supply chain. It could be a good time for IT vendors.