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The rapid adoption of the Internet has been one of the principle cata­lysts behind the speed of the business-to-business electronic commerce revolution. Although the most common current uses of the Internet are for electronic mail and Web site browsing, it is only an elementary use of its potential. With advancements and understanding in different tech­nologies, the Internet is fast becoming the communication backbone for the exchange of information between businesses.

Companies that place their resources into constructing and advanc­ing their electronic commerce systems are better able to serve their customers and strengthen relationships with their customers. Technol­ogy, on the one hand, opens up the global market where companies can reach existing markets and new markets in a cost-effective manner. On the other hand, technology acts as a barrier for entering the market­place and competing if your enterprise is unable to act in a progressive and distinguishing behavior. Businesses that have forged an EC busi­ness relationship with one another have done so with a certain amount of cost, trust, and effort. This relationship is more valuable than ever and the participants are less likely to abandon this relationship in pur­suit of other relationships. Internally organizations are able to reduce their costs and improve their information for decision-making. Since manufacturers and distributors are able to strengthen their relationships with their customers, they are able to effectively lock out competitors and make their respective markets more difficult to penetrate.

Vtech is advancing its systems to provide better service to its cus­tomers and in effect make barriers for competition and streamline its own process at the same time. Atlas Cold Storage uses electronic com­merce to provide better service to its customers, the manufacturers, and to provide value-added services to both the manufacturer and their buyers as information brokers.

Electronic payments will help with cash management and make payments more predictable and allow electronic reconciliation of pay­ments through the receipt of electronic remittances. Businesses will have more control over their cash flow and allow the accounting de­partment to only deal with exceptions.

When proceeding with your electronic commerce solution, the fol­lowing "tips from the trenches" are provided based on some of the most common mistakes made by organizations we have seen.


•    Leverage existing EC technology investments.

-    Reuse your existing EDI integration.

•    Implement standards based solutions to ensure your business's interoperability with others businesses.

-      EDI—universal document format and rules

-      Security—X.509 for public key infrastructure

-      Network—Internet (TCP/IP) connectivity.

Project Management Tips

•    Divide the project into short, manageable phases.

-    Don't try to implement the total buy and supply side of the solu­
tion all at once. Pick from the lowest fruits on the tree first.

•    Pilot the system.

-    Pilot is always good to fine-tune the solution and process before
a mass rollout.

•    Create a high-performance work team from your technology
vendor's implementation team.

-      Ensure they have experience and depth in the area of business-
to-business data integration, from both a supply and a buy side

-      Modern roots of the vendor should be from the server side in­
stead of the client side and from the business side versus the
consumer side.

-      Get their bios.

Vendor Selection Tips

•    Look for a one-stop solution that can also interoperate with best-of-
breed solutions.

-      No EC solution has or can predict all new technologies to be­
come available, so you must be in a position to capitalize on
them when they arrive.

-      You already have existing EC technologies with processes al­
ready operational
—work with it.

•    Solution must be an open system to maximize interoperability.

-    The technology vendor must have this vision or solution; other­
wise, you will have a pigeon hole solution.


Soft Skill Tips

•    Be creative; be an inventor.

-    The Internet is the greatest wealth creator to ever come along
for everyone. Use it to your advantage by revolution and evolu­
tion. This is your window to advance your business and your
career. ..or fail.

•    Get the enterprise educated and connected (including your boss).

-      Most executives know less than most third-graders regarding the
definition and purpose of the most basic computer technologies.

If your career is in the future, get educated in EC



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