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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The purpose of this special edition is to highlight the critical issues around cyber-chain management strategies. This is the area where the majority of organisations can reap the greatest efficiencies, but a concerted effort is required to ensure that alliances and partnerships along the supply chain are not affected detrimentally. These inter-relationships can become even more complex in different e-marketplaces, and organisations need to be aware of the pitfalls of joining certain virtual markets. In particular, issues of trust and co-ordination become critical for successful cyber chain collaboration, and extend beyond the supplier value chain to impact on customer relationship models. A number of high quality papers were sought which offered the opportunity to demonstrate the value of theoretical frameworks and applied techniques in relation to these concepts.
The management of “cyber” supply chains forms the critical foundation of electronic commerce (EC) transactions. The opportunity through augmenting electronic business processes in this way is highly valued, provided that the core features of the systems are implemented correctly. The empirical evidence would suggest that essential consideration should be given to logistics and vendor managed inventory (B2B) as well as a critical need to focus on customer relationship management (B2C). Recent survey indicates that 91 per cent of North American companies believe that cyber chain management is vital to their business success, and only 2 per cent of these organisations felt that their systems were good.
Clearly, significant additional attention is required to enable the recognition of concerns to be identified and solutions suggested. The call for contributions addressed these issues and invited submissions relating to any perceived ideas identified to support and enhance cyber chain management (CCM). A variety of topics in this respect were elicited which attempt to provide insights into a range of critical issues, i.e.:
salient features of CCM;
logistics and channel management;
customer relationship management;
current competitive processes;
challenged assumptions for CCM;
optimisation of virtual environments; and
The papers invited for this special edition were aimed at enabling the publication of high quality original work highlighting the characteristics of CCM and the extent and nature of competitive processes. In particular, factors affecting technological acceptance, formulation and implementation were required, while acknowledging the engagement and interface of customer demands. These included networks of suppliers, channels of distribution and alternative models from existing physical system activities. It was useful to articulate new features for dynamic trading from adopting these approaches and to challenge current assumptions relating to business performance and strategy generally.
The coverage of topics was quite liberal, and few constraints were imposed other than a specific focus on CCM issues. The core objective for this special issue was to provide a vehicle for a well argued presentation of theoretical constructs and empirical findings which extend our existing knowledge of the processes involved.
Ranchhod presents a position paper to outline contemporary thinking on the nature of cyber-marketing strategies and the implications for organisations in the post-Net era. In particular it identifies recent frameworks which appear to offer insights into the complexities and uncertainties associated with critical channels and new mediums for proactive marketing approaches. The emphasis within the paper is on the effective implementation of strategies driven by electronic networks generated through the Internet. He argues that an important contribution is to recognise the dynamics of global marketing campaigns and the exploitation of theoretical frameworks, strategic positioning and viable information technologies and systems to achieve these objectives. Daniel et al. concede that electronic marketplaces have promised many benefits to participants and hence have aroused considerable interest in the business community. However, the failure of some marketplaces and the success, to date, of others have led business managers to question which marketplaces will be successful in the future and whether the entire idea is even viable. The authors describe an exploratory study which seeks to address these issues by proposing a framework of factors that help explain the sustainability of e-marketplaces. The paper identifies seven factors that can be categorised according to three levels of influence:
The macro-economic/regulatory level.
The industry level.
The firm level.
Further work to validate the proposed framework would provide practitioners with additional insight to apply to their e-marketplace strategies.
Berlak and Weber note that due to their common role as suppliers, SMEs are especially challenged by today’s turbulent business conditions. In order to meet this challenge, short-term Internet-based enterprise co-operations are regarded as an appropriate way to enhance their competitive strengths. Hence, the Institute of Machine Tools and Industrial Management operates three so-called competence networks for engineering rapid prototyping and manufacturing services. The paper reports that more than 80 participating SME suppliers have been included in these specialised virtual markets, which are based on the core competencies of the co-operating SMEs. Additionally, an Internet platform was used to enable the customers to configure their specific cyber chains via the above-mentioned competence networks. The paper depicts how to establish and operate competence networks as well as to configure cyber chains via these virtual markets. Janssen argues that many chain co-ordinating initiatives fail due to a lack of trust in and resistance against supply chain co-ordinators, unequally distributed benefits, opposing requirements of involved parties, and asymmetric distribution of power. The paper aims to provide insight into factors influencing the successful implementation of a supply chain co-ordinator. For this purpose, the Electronic Service Center (ESC), a successful, pan-European chain co-ordinator in The Netherlands, is studied. The ESC acts as a central and neutral supply chain co-ordinator and aims at co-ordinating the flow of information between customers, logistics carriers, warehouses, forwarders and suppliers. The authors also provide a general overview of the roles of supply chain co-ordinators and provide a short review of the factors responsible for failure. Furthermore, they investigate the ESC, describe the supply chain and the various roles of the co-ordinator, and discuss the various trade-offs made by the organisations involved in the supply chain.
Ruppel identifies that the primary tools of collaborative commerce are information technologies which are designed to improve flows along the supply chain. However, she notes that supply chain management software is not providing organisations with all its potential benefits. This study looks at three information technologies (i.e. group decision support systems, EDI and e-commerce) that can be used to improve information flows, and the factors that affect their adoption and use. These factors are divided into those related to the information technology itself, and those related to maintaining the relationships that are important in managing supply chain linkages. Factors related to the technology fit, such as return on investment, fit with user’s needs, affordability of the technology, and ability to secure the technology, were found to be important in the use of these tools. The ability to secure SCM technologies appears to substitute currently for some level of trust from an IS perspective. The implications of the findings for managers who wish to adopt and implement these SCM tools are discussed. Carroll et al. report that e-marketplaces are one of the relatively new trends affecting buyer-supplier relationships. Although there have been several failures in the e-business arena, whether it is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, there is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way that business is done in several ways. It has been shown that electronic commerce can fundamentally change inter-organisational processes involving buyer-supplier relationships. The authors argue that it reshapes these buyer-supplier relationships, improves a business’s core processes, and helps reach new markets or segments through the electronic medium. The paper discusses the opportunities and challenges facing e-marketplaces today, and also the concerns facing the potential participants in these e-marketplaces who are trying to weigh the risks presented by such participation and the possible benefits that can be reaped by streamlining the supply chain processes.
Kotzab and Otto conclude this special edition with an insightful analysis of the main principles relating to the process of supply chain management. They argue that previous research has concentrated on fairly descriptive consultancy-driven outcomes which ignore the “necessary properties of relevant research”. This is a commendable objective that provides an extremely useful and comprehensive management-oriented overview of supply chain issues. They identify nine management principles which can be used primarily by organisations with power to secure co-operation within dynamic and uncertain market environments. Their conceptual approach will enable further empirical investigation of critically important theoretical constructs.
The guest editors would like to thank most sincerely the contributors to this special issue, and are grateful for valuable support and advice from the journal editor. Our appreciation is also extended to the Information Institute (www.information-institute.org), who provided additional resources and expertise to engage in this successful project.
About the Guest Editors
Dr Ray Hackney (firstname.lastname@example.org) is currently Executive Head of Management Science and Information Systems within the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He has contributed extensively to research in the field of information systems with publications in numerous national and international conferences and journals. He has taught and examined on a number of Doctoral and MBA programmes including Manchester Business School and the Open University. He leads the organising committee for the annual BIT and BITWorld Conference series and is a member of the Strategic Management Society and Association of Information Systems. Dr Hackney has served on the Board of the UK Academy for Information Systems since 1997 and was also the Vice President Research for IRMA (USA) and is currently Associate Editor of JGIM, JEUC, JLIM and ACITM. His research interest is the strategic management of e-business within a variety of organisational contexts. Dr Hackney was President of the Information Resource Management Association (IRMA) during 2001/2002 and is now an Executive Member of the Information Institute (www.information-institute.org).
Janice Burn (email@example.com) is Foundation Professor and Head of School of Management Information Systems at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia and Director of the We-B research centre – Working for e-Business. She has previously held senior academic posts in Hong Kong and the UK. Her research interests relate to information systems strategy and benefits evaluation in virtual organisations, with a particular emphasis on social, political and cultural challenges in an e-business environment. She is recognised as an international researcher with over 200 referred publications in journals and international conferences. She is on the editorial board of six prestigious IS journals and participates in a number of joint research projects with international collaboration and funding.
Ray Hackney, Janice Burn