RealTime IT News

A Transparent Future?

[Johannesberg, SA] - Collaboration is being touted as the defining theme for a new era of e-commerce but are B2B players ready for the shift?

From Ariba to Commerce One and SAP, e-merchants are styling themselves as 'collaborative commerce providers' and are hosting an array of collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) services. However valuable these services may be the reality of collaboration remains not a technical issue but rather a 'cultural' one.

"CPFR has not taken hold in the past mainly because of the cultural issues surrounding it," explains Colin Dyer, CEO of the World Wide Retail Exchange.

"Businesses first have to get used to operating in a more transparent way and sharing information in ways not customary in the past." Implementing the latest collaborative e-commerce tools may be fine and dandy but, maintains Dyer, technical solutions alone wont change the corporate mind-set.

According to AMR Research analyst Bob Parker collaboration is a major building-block of a larger next-generation e-business infrastructure. That infrastructure, he contends, will support not only an individual company but its customers and trading partners as well.

Nonetheless, he contends that the latest tools for collaborative commerce are nothing but meaningless adjuncts to an already existing trend. "All commerce is collaborative is some way," he notes, adding that the answer doesnt lie with technical solutions per se but rather in businesses' willingness to actually share product design and forecasting plans with trading partners.

"There are going to be technical solutions for this collaborative environment," states Chris Davis, director of Lante's eMarket Center of Excellence. "At the moment, however, businesses are more concerned with asking what exactly the metrics and incentives are for them to start creating collaborative value."