Human-Centric E-Business

Human-Centric E-Business

H.D. Richards (MAPS and Orion Logic Ltd, UK), Harris Charalampos Makatsoris (Brunel University, UK & Orion Logic Ltd, UK) and Yoon Seok Chang (Korea Aerospace University School of Air Transport, Transportation and Logistics, Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch280
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Abstract

This article studies the transformation processes occurring in industry and business at large. It deals with the social and economic challenges, and explores the new concepts arising from an unprecedented technology revolution underpinned by advances and innovation in ICT. In addition it sets the scene for a new era of industrial capitalism. Over the last decade of the twentieth century, a large number of companies faced the future with trepidation while others lacked a good strategy (Possl, 1991; Kidd, 1994; Ashkenas, 1997). Many changes had taken place including Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing and logistics, lean manufacturing (Womack, Jones, & Roos, 1990), shorter product lifecycles (Davenport, 1993), more intelligent approaches to IT (Drucker, 1992; MacIntosh, 1994; Nonaka, 1998), and costing (Wilson, 1995; Ansari, Bell, & the CAM-I Target Cost Core Group, 1997), but making money was becoming more and more difficult. It was a time and climate for dramatic new approaches (Warnecke, 1993; Drucker, 1994; Goldman, Nagel, & Preiss, 1995) with greater agility. New technologies were replacing old at a faster rate, and information technology provided better management and control vision, albeit on a limited local scale (Arguello, 1994; Leachman, Benson, Lui, & Raar, 1996; Makatsoris, Leach, & Richards, 1996). Also, push to pull manufacturing (Mertins, 1996) distinctly changed the approach to customers and service, which increased competitive and economic pressures resulted from the global reach of customers, manufacturers, and service providers keen to exploit the wealth of opportunities in both global markets and differences in worldwide regional markets (Bitran, Bassetti, & Romano. 2003). Even players only operating in local markets (Bologni, Gozzi, & Toschi, 1996; Zabel, Weber, & Steinlechner, 2000; Bonfatti & Monari, 2004) could not resist the tide of change. As a result many companies and economies (Hutton, 1995) were in a state of upheaval, and as a consequence some fell by the wayside. This was a climate in which there was an uncertain outcome, and it was into this melting pot that the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) were to produce an environment for a much-needed revolutionary change in the industrial approach. Later, broadband for landline and also wireless networking provided a much-needed speedier access.
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Introduction

This article studies the transformation processes occurring in industry and business at large. It deals with the social and economic challenges, and explores the new concepts arising from an unprecedented technology revolution underpinned by advances and innovation in ICT. In addition it sets the scene for a new era of industrial capitalism.

Over the last decade of the twentieth century, a large number of companies faced the future with trepidation while others lacked a good strategy (Possl, 1991; Kidd, 1994; Ashkenas, 1997). Many changes had taken place including Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing and logistics, lean manufacturing (Womack, Jones, & Roos, 1990), shorter product lifecycles (Davenport, 1993), more intelligent approaches to IT (Drucker, 1992; MacIntosh, 1994; Nonaka, 1998), and costing (Wilson, 1995; Ansari, Bell, & the CAM-I Target Cost Core Group, 1997), but making money was becoming more and more difficult. It was a time and climate for dramatic new approaches (Warnecke, 1993; Drucker, 1994; Goldman, Nagel, & Preiss, 1995) with greater agility. New technologies were replacing old at a faster rate, and information technology provided better management and control vision, albeit on a limited local scale (Arguello, 1994; Leachman, Benson, Lui, & Raar, 1996; Makatsoris, Leach, & Richards, 1996). Also, push to pull manufacturing (Mertins, 1996) distinctly changed the approach to customers and service, which increased competitive and economic pressures resulted from the global reach of customers, manufacturers, and service providers keen to exploit the wealth of opportunities in both global markets and differences in worldwide regional markets (Bitran, Bassetti, & Romano. 2003). Even players only operating in local markets (Bologni, Gozzi, & Toschi, 1996; Zabel, Weber, & Steinlechner, 2000; Bonfatti & Monari, 2004) could not resist the tide of change. As a result many companies and economies (Hutton, 1995) were in a state of upheaval, and as a consequence some fell by the wayside. This was a climate in which there was an uncertain outcome, and it was into this melting pot that the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) were to produce an environment for a much-needed revolutionary change in the industrial approach. Later, broadband for landline and also wireless networking provided a much-needed speedier access.

Businesses looked to the wider horizons and the dynamics of their supply chains as well as their markets to discover new ways of working with both customers and suppliers, to grow and remain viable. The diverse industrial, commercial, and operational practices and processes needed to be remolded. And the collaborative aspects of external relationships to the advantage of company performance and the creation of new opportunities were the ones to be targeted. This resulted in increasing use of new forms of communication and innovation in multimedia technologies. In this unsettled environment, once fear of change had been forced into the background, chaos became the domain of creative experimentation (Weiland-Burston, 1992). It is during this period of confusion and anxiety that the process of metamorphosis started to take place.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Enterprise/Virtual Corporation: A virtual corporation or enterprise is formed from a pool of competencies and capabilities resulting from a club of pre-qualified partners that may be expanded or contracted through the mutual desires of the club. The management body for a virtual enterprise selects partners from the pool of competence available to provide products or comprehensive services to any industry in direct competition to single companies or other virtual enterprises. It is necessary to have strong collaborative relationships between partners in the club. The virtual enterprise may exist only on a temporary basis to take market chances, for example tendering. It may also exist for a longer term for optimization of a value network to service a market need.

Intelligent Software Agent: Acts at speed over the electronic communication channel on behalf of human individuals or companies as their proxy; a program acting on behalf of another person, entity, or process. An intelligent software agent is an autonomous program that is capable of perceiving and interpreting data sensed from its environment, reflecting events in its environment, and taking actions to achieve given goals without permanent guidance from its user. Agents must have the intrinsic ability to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, negotiate, and learn, as well as have the capability to evolve through interactions with other agents. Agents can be standalone or part of a multi-agent system.

Electronic business (e-business): Any form of business or administrative transaction or information exchange that is executed using information and communications technology. This may be transaction performed in a peer–to-peer fashion between companies or organizations or with a customer. Electronic business impacts the way business is perceived.

Supply Chain: In its basic form, a buyer-centric chain or network of independent companies that are loosely interlinked by activity along a manufacturing, servicing, and distribution channel of a product service specialty, from sources of raw material to delivery to an end customer. Supplementary to this supply chain management is a set of approaches utilized to integrate suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses, retail stores, and so on. Consequently, merchandise is produced and distributed in right quantities, to right locations at the right time, to minimize system-wide costs while at the same time satisfying service-level requirements.

Adaptive Value Network (AVN): An arrangement where companies form a web of close relationships and work together as a system that delivers the right customized product and expected service at the right quality in a coordinated manner and are responsive and adaptable to changes in the environment ( Makatsoris et al., 2004b ).

Value Network: This term is ambiguous, as the analytical perspective colors its meaning. Nevertheless, the value network in general terms evolves from a supply chain through mutual use of ICT and more closely linked collaboration and mutual dependency between the partner organizations or independent companies. Collaboration means electronic communication via extranet, or Internet, co-operation and co-ordination of work flow, information and knowledge exchange, negotiation and dynamic trading, and joint decision making. Value is derived through the exchanges with partner organizations in the network and its shared knowledge. The value network also aims to deliver the highest value to the end consumer and to its stakeholders.

Smart Organization: A further evolution of value networks and virtual corporations through the use of more advanced business models taking account of human ICT symbiosis and utilizing more intelligent applications and tools for collaborative work and holistic development of both product and service engineering.

Collaborative Working Environment: A virtual environment that allows seamless access to all the necessary services for the context of effective and efficient collaboration, and permits all people and teams involved that may be located in any global site and belong to any organization to be fully engaged. The highly distributed and integrated and connected resources are managed to provide fast context switching, IP protection, intuitive user interfaces, multimedia and smart assistance tools, and so forth.

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