Collaborative commerce is a new technology effort that will likely require radical adjustments for companies still organized around rigid departmental structures rather than the flow of business processes. Even enterprises that have implemented some c-commerce applications—perhaps CRM or e-procurement—probably have work to do in linking sometimes disparate systems into the value chain.

In a recent series of in-depth articles, TechRepublic contributor Franky McCoy explained the nuts and bolts of c-commerce and the challenges it poses to CIOs striving to make data available and meaningful from the front end to the back end of the enterprise.

  • “Preparing the enterprise chain for c-commerce”: The c-commerce dream is to bring together technologies for enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and e-procurement to integrate commerce applications from the supplier to the customer. Realizing that dream will probably be a complex and expensive journey, so it’s important to have the business processes perfected before trying to implement the technology. This article shows you how good preparation is the only way to avoid wasting time and money on poor c-commerce implementations.
  • “ERP: A roadblock en route to collaboration”: Many companies are stuck with suboptimal ERP applications that can collect lots of data, but can’t analyze it. For example, they don’t have analytical technologies to combine historical and projected data to form “what-if” scenarios. Demand Consensus, a Web-based application from J.D. Edwards, is one of the products that attempts to bring planners, salespeople, executives, operations managers, customers, and suppliers together in a collaborative environment to get better forecasting results. If your enterprise is faced with entrenched legacy systems that can’t effectively work together, Franky McCoy explains how companies can turn to products like OneWorld XPI, also from J.D. Edwards, to bridge the gaps.
  • “CRM integration strategy is critical to c-commerce success”: Customers have more information than ever before, and it’s also easier than ever for them to switch to a competitor. But barriers between departments and other organizational and technological hindrances have to collapse for an enterprise to become truly customer-centric. Flexible Java is one of the technologies discussed in this article that can help extract and manipulate customer information, even from legacy systems.
  • “E-procurement: The link to the c-commerce value chain”: The two vital duties of procurement are to reduce risks and improve supplier participation. But e-procurement is often complicated because a company may have to deal with a number of suppliers—and their idiosyncratic technologies. One solution is Ariba Supplier Network, which provides secure procurement transactions with more than 30,000 suppliers. This article also discusses costly mistakes in moving toward e-procurement, such as failing to embrace XML.
  • “Pave the way for c-commerce by mastering SCM”: The supply chain disruptions that occurred in the wake of 9/11 renewed interest in preventing massive inventory buildups that hurt the bottom line. To be agile, companies need to operate on a demand-aggregation model. However, as this article explains, few companies agree on the ways in which they need to collaborate for effective SCM. That opens the door for vendors like i2 Technologies, which provide collaborative services on a network basis.
  • “A mobile enterprise braves competitive seas by anchoring to c-commerce”: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd. (RCCL) has to manage two distinct supply chains for its 22-ship fleet: One for all food, beverage, and lodging inventories; the other for “corporate spend” materials, such as office supplies, printing services, and marine consumables (including fuel and spare parts). Because only eight hours are allowed for loading each ship for a seven-day trip, supply chain management is crucial. This case study and follow-up article show how RCCL has focused on c-commerce.
  • “Ten steps to a c-commerce pilot”: In the conclusion to this series, Franky McCoy explains critical steps for moving ahead on your c-commerce project, from cleaning up existing data to shopping for vendors.

TechRepublic plans to continue to provide information and coverage of new collaborative commerce technologies, trends, and enterprise efforts, so stay tuned.