New survey data suggest that despite a reputation for being technology laggards, builders and their suppliers are steadily moving forward with e-commerce and back-office data interchange.
A survey of technical managers at 100 of the leading wood product suppliers finds a surprisingly high level of business-to-business systems integration with their customers, including builders.
More than two-thirds, 68%, say they have a strategy for e-commerce, and 60% say they have integrated or are planning to integrate their back-end systems with customers.
Of the 45% of companies that already have the equipment and processes in place, most have added B2B back-office capabilities within the past two years despite slackening technology demand elsewhere in the economy.
"We see the primary benefit of business-to-business integration in lower inventories for our customers and our ability to eliminate manual processes," says Charlie Wells, a manager of sourcing and supply at a Georgia-Pacific Corp. plant.
The survey was sponsored by software maker ForestExpress LLC and conducted by independent researcher Stat One Research.
B2B Systems: Benefits and Obstacles