C-commerce to change supply chain apps

Collaborative commerce is fundamentally changing supply chain management (SCM), giving rise to a new generation of applications. However, these solutions are at the beginning of their life cycle, said a Gartner analyst.

SCM is at an point of business and technology convergence as new applications emerge that promise benefits and challenges, according to Kristian Steenstrup, research director at Gartner Group. At the centre of this change is collaborative commerce, or c-commerce.

"C-commerce solutions only work when you get visibility in real time with trading partners as if they were part of your business."

By 2003, Steenstrup forecasts that two distinct application sets will develop. He said SCM solutions are splitting into four-wall traditional SCM and B2B applications, and B2B c-commerce SCM solutions.

"Solutions are evolving to handle processes that are no longer enterprise-specific and inward-focused, and are moving towards collaborative interactions and transactions for groups of trading partners," Steenstrup said.

Steenstrup recommends companies fashion c-commerce strategies that combine the advantages of both the four-wall application and B2B c-commerce solutions.

"The four-wall applications will be enterprise-centric, providing optimisation, collaboration and interoperability among enterprises and then identified key trading partners, whereas B2B c-commerce solutions are architected for the extended supply chain community."

Battle lines are drawn between SCM and ERP vendors, according to Steenstrup. "The competition will be won by those vendors that first enable relationship and business process modelling based on intelligent workflow," he said.

"Although there will be intense competition for the enterprise c-commerce space fuelled by conjecture and hype, there will not be a clear leader until at least the first half of 2003."

Enterprises will need to navigate through extreme levels of market hype as they formulate c-commerce strategies quickly in four-wall and B2B c-commerce solutions to assess and take advantage of emerging opportunities, he said.

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