The Collaboration Question

[From iSource Business, May 2001] Collaboration. Few know exactly what it means. Fewer still have any idea of how it works or what the potential obstacles might be to obtaining it. But a handful of pioneering companies are taking the first steps to bring the downstream and upstream links in their supply chains together by pursuing collaboration in the design process for new products. The goals, as always, are to offer customers products that are closer to what they want, to offer them the products first, and ultimately to generate higher revenues and shareholder value.

First Up: Definitions

Gartner Group Inc., the Cambridge, Mass., technology consulting firm coined the phrase collaborative commerce (or c-commerce) in an August 1999 report that predicted that collaboration would become the dominant business model by 2002. Perhaps not surprisingly, the dot-coms and e-commerce solution providers quickly rewrote their product descriptions and press releases to include collaboration as a key feature of their offerings. The result has been a great deal of confusion about what collaborative commerce really is, even as adoption has advanced at an unhurried pace.