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The enterprise system revisited: how well does it capture the company’s business network?

Peter Ekman (School of Business, Society and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




This paper aims to analyse how well enterprise systems capture the business network in which an industrial company is involved. Enterprise systems have been presented as a “dream come true” with a seamless integration of business data through a common database and software modules that can be customized to the companies’ different functions. However, research shows that companies’ utilization of enterprise systems is limited, and that internal processes are prioritized.


European multinational companies and some of their partners have been followed through case studies between 2003 and 2010. The pattern-matching analysis has been supported by a theoretical framework that depicts industrial companies as engaged in business relationships in a network setting.


The results show that the company’s relationship-oriented activities are badly captured by the enterprise system. The study highlights limitations that future enterprise systems need to address if they are to be able to offer the company a better insight into its business network.


The traditionally internal focus on enterprise systems means that important business information transcending inter-organizational activities will be missed. To be worthy of the name enterprise system, more customer- and supplier-oriented activities need to be supported and captured.



The study was financed by the Handelsbanken Research Foundations and the Swedish Research School of Management and IT.


Ekman, P. (2015), "The enterprise system revisited: how well does it capture the company’s business network?", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 208-217.



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