The support of the Informatics Research Initiative of Enterprise
Ireland is gratefully acknowledged.
The Internet is redefining the way businesses design, develop,
manufacture, distribute and sell products and services. Tightly
coupled, vertically integrated supply chains are giving way
to more fluid ‘value constellations’ connecting suppliers, intermediaries
and customers through real-time information conduits. While
these effects are most visible in the information-intensive
industries, such as finance, consulting and media, the landscape
of material or product-based industries is also being transformed.
At the extreme of supply chain design is a vision of the virtual
enterprise as a ‘temporary network of companies that come
together quickly to exploit fast changing opportunities… companies
share costs, skills and access to global markets, with each
partner contributing what it’s best at’ (Byrne, J., 'The Virtual
Corporation', Business Week, February 1993). An intelligent
electronic broker might well create a virtual enterprise for
the purpose of executing a single transaction.
The project will investigate ways of supporting new business
models. It focuses on three inter-related aspects:
Supply Chain Modelling: Modelling the interactions and dependencies
in the supply chain provides the basis for designing the extended
enterprise's information and material logistics. This provides
the analytical tools to create different supply chain architectures
and experiment with them, with a view to co-ordinating material
and information flow across the supply chain, and providing
for end-to-end virtual logistics management.
Enabling and Integration Technologies: Emerging developments
in the areas of mobile computing and customer relationship
management are likely to change the information systems landscape,
and provide an opportunity for realising truly flexible and
Application Domains: Supply chain concepts, originally developed
for manufacturing, also apply in information-intensive industries
(such as financial services) and in professional services
(including software development). Each of these three domains
- software, financial services, and logistics - poses unique
challenges. Exploring supply chains from these distinct perspectives
will enable us to explore key differences and commonalities
and to apply different technological solutions.
The design and integration of extended supply chains is a
multi-layer challenge that involves business processes,organisation
structures, measurement systems, legal contracts and IP agreements,
security, ERP platforms, and underlying network architectures.
Conventional ERP architectures and legacy IT platforms are
likely to be the greatest impediment to realising flexible,
adaptive demand-supply value chains. The ability to create
such new business models quickly may well be the only enduring
competitive advantage for businesses in the future. This implies
that the design and implementation of appropriate solutions
will provide significant business opportunities.