Enterprise in the Information Age

Business is undergoing a transformation from the industrial to the information age. Information technology (IT) opens up possibilities for new business solutions; it offers exceptional opportunities for fast innovators and harbors fundamental risks for la

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2.1 Challenge of the Information Age

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2.2 Imperatives of Business in the Internet Age 2.2.1 Coverage 2.2.2 Partnering 2.2.3 Critical Mass of Customers and Suppliers 2.2.4 Position in the Business Network 2.2.5 Focusing 2.2.6 Process Efficiency 2.2.7 Networkability 2.2.8 Change Management

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2.3 Seven Trends 2.3.I Enterprise Resource Planning 2.3.2 Knowledge Management 2.3.3 Smart Appliances 2.3.4 Business Networking 2.35 Electronic Services 2.3.6 Customer Process Support 2.3.7 Value Management

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H Österle et al., Business Networking © Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 2001

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2.1

2 Enterprise in the Information Age

Challenge of the Information Age

Business is undergoing a transformation from the industrial to the information age. Information technology (IT) opens up possibilities for new business solutions; it offers exceptional opportunities for fast innovators and harbors fundamental risks for laggards. This transformation poses a gigantic challenge for both business and society. Success stories alternate with news of project failures. New companies, such as Amazon, Siebel or Yahoo!, have been growing at rates of 100 percent a year and more and achieve quite incredible levels of market capitalization within a few years of their existence while others, such as banks or travel agencies, introduce drastic cutbacks in staff every year or disappear from the market. Enterprises and individuals are under great pressure to act. At the same time, the feeling of uncertainty has never been as great as it is now. The high volatility of shares in innovative companies is indicative of this mood. Sensational success stories in management journals, recipes for success from IT prophets, buzz-words, such as virtualization, and finally the abundant superlatives employed in announcing new IT products, provide a confusing picture of the information age, while many companies already have their hands full dealing with restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, globalization, Y2K, the Euro, technically outdated applications and other operative problems. Information technology makes new business solutions possible. This might mean new or improved products and services (e.g. automobile and navigation), additional sales channels (e.g. Internet banking), more efficient forms of procurement (e.g. global procurement by means of electronic markets), new ways in which suppliers and customers can cooperate (e.g. collaborative planning), new services (e.g. virtual communities), more effective management (e.g. through the automatic measurement of key performance indicators) or new information services (e.g. product catalogs). Transformation means innovation in existing enterprises (e.g. direct selling by an insurance company), but above all the establishment of new enterprises. Start-ups include software houses, such as iXOS, consultancy firms, such as Cambridge Technology Partners, industry analysts, such as Ovum, network providers , such as Tobit, providers of Internet services, such