VIRTUAL OFFICE: A Web Platform for a Collaborative Networked Organization

VIRTUAL OFFICE: A Web Platform for a Collaborative Networked Organization

Maria Victoria de la Fuente Aragon (Technical University of Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain) and Lorenzo Ros-McDonnell (Technical University of Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJWP.2014100101


The integration of functions in business networks requires a high level of integration of the information processes. Based on file transfers, these networks respond to the requirements of collaborative processes. There is an effective need for a strategy of integration among the members of the network. In the ICT era, the collaborative company needs to reach and maintain agility in the dynamics of their collaborative processes. Within the frame of a collaborative network, the development of a web platform permits the growth of an area that integrates collaborative processes, in which several companies participate, each supplying their own data. The Fruit-and-Vegetable Collaborative Network studied in this paper is formed by producers, processers, packaging companies, marketers, transporters, and distributors. It has been developed via a web platform (Virtual Office), which allows the network to carry out processes in a collaborative way, and helps the network in its process of confidence-building and in the interactions among its members.
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2. Collaborative Networked Organizations

Participation in networks has become critical for any organization striving to achieve a better competitive advantage. Among the wide variety of existing networks, collaborative networks are especially relevant. These have emerged over the last few years as a result of the challenges faced by both the business and scientific world, since collaboration has become the key issue for manufacturing companies to give a rapid response to market demands through sharing competence and resources (Camarinha-Matos et al., 2009).

Because of their limited resources, small and medium enterprises need to join efforts through collaboration in order to be able to adapt to continuous changes in the current market. Collaboration for these companies entails considerable advantages, among them collaborative innovation resulting from the confrontation of ideas among members of different organizations, and trust as a base for the success of innovation (Fawcett et al., 2012). In addition, sharing expertise or know-how, the adoption of good common practices and the compatibility of open-web systems promote the creation of such concepts as integrated companies and collaborative networks.

Collaboration helps companies to align their processes to respond to changes in demand, and to anticipate their competitors, which will result in significant benefits for the network. A collaborative relationship leads to better business results than those which may be obtained by the same companies trading at an individual level (Fawcet et al., 2012). A CN is based on a variety of entities (i.e. organizations and people) that are mainly autonomous and geographically distributed. Nevertheless, these entities collaborate to better achieve compatible goals, using ICT to support the enhancement of collaborative business opportunities (Camarinha-Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2005).

A necessary condition to obtain good results from collaborative relationships is the integration and interoperability of processes within the supply chain (Dershin, 2000), which may be understood as the capability of two or more systems or components to exchange and share information, as well as the ability to provide and receive services from other systems, and to use these services for an efficient exchange (Open Group, 2000).

Through collaborative processes, companies commit themselves to joint decision making, while trying to reach business objectives shared by all the network members, to coordinate their actions and to exchange information (Bouchbout et al., 2012). Transferring data and sharing information are necessary in any collaborative relationship, as well as reciprocal trust among the members and some sort of safe, reliable system for information exchange.

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