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The eBusiness benchmark
Context
This eBusiness Benchmark gives an up-to-date insight into the
drivers and experiences of companies in the area of eBusiness
investments. The objective of the study has been to investigate
what companies see as the real cost and, more importantly, the
real value of their eBusiness investments. Some companies have
invested millions in the development and implementation of
eBusiness processes and applications. Others have taken a wait-
and-see approach.
The eBusiness Benchmark is an anonymous benchmarking study
performed in the distribution, wholesale and manufacturing
industry of the BeNeLux countries, but a wide variety of
companies in other industries have participated as well. The
approach we took is to do a broad study, in the sense that it takes
into account all major eBusiness application areas, but to also
investigate deep enough into each area in order to make
meaningful observations and conclusions. Therefore, the effort in
investigating individual companies was relatively high (broad
questionnaire, many interviews).
The study is performed by VINTURA, an independent consultancy
company specialized in eBusiness and Partner of ZMG.
We define eSales as doing business with customers supported by
electronic means, but with some form of user involvement. In the same
manner, we define eProcurement as doing business with suppliers
supported by electronic means, but with some form of user involvement.
eConnectivity is defined as doing business by establishing electronic links
between systems or applications of buyers, suppliers, other business
partners or other organizational entities (no direct user involvement).
Key Findings
1. eSales focus is on existing customers
eSales initiatives, like selling via a general or personalized web-shop, are
now widespread and companies are generally quite satisfied with their
initiatives and the value they get from them.
A major driver for providing these kinds of facilities is to improve the
overall service to the customers, for example ease of ordering, up-to-date
status information on customer orders and product availability. In general,
companies use eSales to "make it easy for the customer to do business"
with them. It is interesting that very few companies bother to make the
increase in service level concrete and measurable. Only some companies
manage their customer satisfaction, have measurements for their service
levels and ask their customers up-front what functionalities they want.
2. eProcurement benefits are real; the start is difficult
eProcurement, on the contrary, is still scarcely implemented and the
experiences are very divers. The focus in applying eProcurement is very
much on realizing real and measurable benefits, both from process cost
savings and from unit cost savings. A first barrier for companies to
actually start an eProcurement project is that many companies still have
very fragmented information on their company wide spend in the different
spend categories. Another, even more important, barrier is that
procurement is still not on the top of the agenda for many management
teams. Only some companies see eProcurement initiatives as a way to
support and enforce their efforts for optimizing the procurement
processes and organization.
3. eConnectivity is happening and is essential for eSales and
eProcurement
Directly linking applications and systems using internet technology, here
coined "eConnectivity", is seen as an essential pre-requisite for
eBusiness initiatives in the broadest sense. Establishing electronic links
between companies, be it using EDI or XML, reduces costs and realizes
process efficiencies. The trend towards XML as the new standard for
communication is clear and the data in the study suggests that in only two
years time XML will reach the same installed base as EDI has now. For
individual companies, EDI versus XML however is not the issue. The
important challenge is to implement a flexible, scalable and secure
connectivity platform that enables the company to connect to a variety of
business partners or organizational entities. Implementing such a
connectivity platform is not so much a cost or technology issue, but much
more an issue on concepts, business process alignment and
standardization.
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