UK lags in European supply chain for achieving Perfect Order, reveals Sterling Commerce research

Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc. subsidiary has announced the results of a survey of European IT managers.

According to the research, 9 out of 10 European retail and manufacturing businesses are struggling to automate the order-to-fulfillment cycle, as a result of major application integration challenges. As a consequence, process gaps are preventing 72% of companies from adding new sales channels to target growth market opportunities.

These are the headline findings of independent research conducted for Sterling Commerce by Vanson Bourne, who questioned more than 300 IT managers in the UK, France and Germany.

The results reveal that UK businesses have the lowest levels of application integration across Europe, with 20% not integrated at all. As many as one in five UK respondents admitted to gaining no competitive advantage at all from their IT systems.

The survey also found that despite operating fewer supply chain management applications than their European counterparts, 57% of UK IT managers admitted that they lacked a consolidated view of data across their supply chains, compared with 14% in France and 33% in Germany. In turn, 50% of UK IT Managers said they felt confident they could track orders in real-time, a key requirement of efficient order-to-fulfillment, compared to 64% of French and 63% of German respondents.

David Hogg, retail CPG solutions manager, EMEA at Sterling Commerce said:

As the pace of todays business environment continues to intensify, businesses are coming under increased pressure to effectively meet customer requirements for greater access to order information across multiple channels and, more importantly, for orders to be fulfilled on promise, whether in the business or consumer domain.

These results strongly suggest that UK businesses are facing a dual challenge; not only is poor integration having an impact on internal efficiency but it is actually adversely impacting their ability to respond quickly to changing market demands, such as profitably launching a new sales channel or on-boarding new trading partners.

60% of UK companies do not currently rely on the web to conduct business, and unless they address the underlying challenges associated with a lack of integration, they will continue to miss out on market opportunities. This will mean an inability to capitalise on current growth trends such as cross-channel shopping, and companies will ultimately fall short of providing the level of customer satisfaction required to retain competitive differentiation.

The survey findings are unveiled to time with the official UK launch of the Sterling Selling and Fulfilment Suite at an event held today at Somerset House in London. The launch event will be attended by a select group of senior retail, logistics and manufacturing executives and industry analysts, including Ray Wang, Research Director at Forrester.

Sterling Selling and Fulfilment Suite is the industrys most comprehensive solution for managing the entire inquiry-to-cash cycle in the manufacturing, retail, distribution and communications sectors. It is a complete, integrated end-to-end solution that provides unlimited visibility and control across an organisations sales and fulfilment operations, enabling companies to create a superior buying experience for their customers while shielding them from the complexities of their organisation, channels and supply chain.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted on behalf of Sterling Commerce by Vanson Bourne Monograph in August 2007. The independent survey was conducted online by questioning 312 IT managers in the UK, France and Germany.

About Sterling Commerce

Sterling Commerce, a subsidiary of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), helps 80 percent of the FORTUNE? 500 thrive in a global economy by solving complex business process challenges. The companys innovative software and services integrate customers systems ? inside and outside the four walls of the enterprise ? so companies can conduct business without borders. Sterling Commerce solutions help customers adopt best practices in e-sales, supply chain execution, payment processing and business-to-business integration.  The solutions also give executives and front-line managers greater visibility inside and outside the enterprise in order to improve profitability, reduce costs and minimize risk. Sterling Commerce enables businesses to innovate key processes in real time, while continuing to deploy ERP or transaction system infrastructures. With more than 30,000 customers worldwide, Sterling Commerce has unparalleled experience in retail, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, financial services, supply chain, logistics, and telecommunications.

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