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Collaborative commerce the role of intermediaries in e-collaboration

Collaborative commerce the role of intermediaries in e-collaboration

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Sherer & Adams: Collaborative Commerce: The Role of Intermediaries in e-Collaboration Page 66 COLLABORATIVE COMMERCE: THE ROLE OF INTERMEDIARIES IN E-COLLABORATION Susan A. Sherer Lehigh University College of Business and Economics [email protected] Bill Adams President and CEO G5 Technologies, Inc. Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 [email protected] ABSTRACT We propose a model for implementing collaborative commerce in which independent companies form temporary alliances by combining their capabilities and capacity to meet market needs. Lessons from a case study of one of the earliest tests of agile collaboration among small firms, the Agile Web, Inc. guides implementation. The study illustrates that small firm owners may not have the expertise, time, or inclination to initiate new opportunities outside their existing markets, nor can they effectively manage across unfamiliar enterprises. An intermediary or a domain expert is required whose major responsibilities include: the identification of market opportunities, forming collaborative teams, and project managing the resulting virtual enterprise. Internet enabled information systems enhance the intermediaries’ productivity, enabling speedy formation, design, and operation of these alliances. 1. Introduction E-marketplaces today facilitate the trading of products and services, while electronic hierarchies support collaborative relationships among supply chain partners. Tapping excess capacity and forming temporary alliances of companies to meet new market demands can further enhance e-commerce, extending e-marketplaces through temporary collaborations. This requires agile companies to form and dissolve virtual organizations quickly. While the concept of agility has received much attention [11, 13] , its implementation has not. An agile company is capable of operating profitably in a competitive environment of continually and unpredictably changing customer requirements [13] . Agility can be achieved in virtual organizations, opportunistic alliances of capabilities and available capacity distributed among a group of independent companies to provide a product/service to a customer. In a virtual organization, complementary resources existing in a number of cooperating companies are integrated to support a particular product effort for as long as it is financially justifiable. Resources are selectively allocated to the virtual organization if they are underutilized, or if they can be more profitably utilized. This minimizes not only the investment in personnel and facilities dedicated to the new project, but also the disruptive impact of new projects on existing operations. Since overhead is absorbed by current operations, the lower total cost basis provides additional opportunity for revenues.
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