It's painful for us to see giant plastics manufacturers overspending on internal resources or big-name solutions provided by the likes of Accenture plc and SAP America. Touted as end-all, be-all solutions, they simply don't work for specific needs such as managing and displaying complex plastics data.
The initial rush to get product data online to increase buyer spending and reduce internal costs got in the way of real issues. In hindsight, everyone was racing for the finish line so fast that they forgot to think of the bigger picture issues — one of the largest being how they were going to maintain that data through all distribution channels. Think of small distributors — how many can afford a SAP system to get product data real-time from their suppliers? How many suppliers would be willing to provide a SAP solution for their distributors?
Unfortunately, because companies paid such ridiculous fees to get their product data online, return-on-investment assessments were extremely flawed. These solutions were (and still are) like trying to squeeze a ball into a square hole. As a result, companies believe they are forced to apply Band-Aids on their current in-house or outsourced solutions.
For an e-business solution to be effective, we believe it must be efficient, customer-centric and affordable. As Clemens Kaiser [Bayer AG e-commerce president] mentions in a Dec. 17 Plastics News story [“E-businesses continue to work out kinks,” Page 15], e-business only works if a successful network is established. This is one of our strategies for providing cost-effective solutions to both suppliers and distributors, so that when a supplier's data is updated, those updates are reflected on distributor sites as well. We've been doing this since 1986.
The bottom line is, there is no one true “total solution.” Every company's needs and its customers' needs vary.