Recent industry and business trends can be described as shorter life cycle, increased speed to market, customizability, and a wide variety (rather than mass production) of products. In order to cope with the new environment, business organizations in the supply chain need to communicate, collaborate, and share information as efficiently as they can. There are a variety of collaborative information systems and tools that are actively being used in the enterprises that make collaborative efforts among supply chain partners using digital technologies. In order to maximize business impacts of those collaborative tools, proper policy, and support from users and management are required. Understanding of the managerial issues of the collaborative information systems and tools regarding deployment and usage is also important for successful deployment. We provide an overview on functionalities of the collaborative tools, their business impacts, and managerial issues that need to be addressed to maximize their effectiveness.
There are a variety of IT tools and systems aimed at facilitating communication and collaboration, while they provide dissimilar features coming from different objectives. Some of tools were developed as communication tools, some others as integration tools to facilitate communication among information systems or streamline workflows, synchronous collaboration tools, enterprise application integration, mobile communication, and so on. Based on their features and objectives, we group them into several categories and present individually.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)Tools: Computer applications that facilitate communication among human participants.
Collaborative Commerce: Collaborative efforts among businesses using digital technologies for supply chain activities such as collaborative production planning, forecasting, automatic ordering and order fulfillment, and research and design of products.
Workflow Management Systems: A set of business process automation tools that can design and execute a workflow, and monitor its execution.
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): A way of organizing software using networked software modules, what we call services.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): A set of business solutions that supports collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product information including CAD design, parts, suppliers, inventory, and marketing information.
Sales Force Automation (SFA): Applications support the selling process performed by a company’s sales force by helping salespeople manage leads, prospects, and customers through the sales pipeline.
Team Workspace Tool: A type of asynchronous collaboration tool that provide a group of users with access to shared work repositories with access control and data management capabilities.
Collaborative Enterprise: A Company that exercises collaborative commerce