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Since the U.S. Department of Defense initiated the development of networked computers in 1969, Internet technologies have rapidly advanced and revolutionized the way we communicate and conduct business. The second wave of the technological revolution came with intranet technology in the mid-1990s. With the intranet, organizations have strengthened the powers and speed of data gathering and sharing, communication, collaboration, and decision making within a firewall-protected organizational boundary. The third wave of this technological evolution, extranets, began in the second half of the 1990s. Many believe that it is the key technology enabler that is triggering a revolution in the structure and operations of many organizations in the new Internet-driven global economy. In addition to maturing Internet technologies, several technology drivers, as well as business drivers, further pushed the emergence of new types of organizations—virtual corporations, virtual organizations, extended enterprises, and trans-enterprise systems.
Since we began to study information systems, academics and practitioners have expanded the focus of information technology’s role in managing organizations, from individuals to groups to functional departments to organizations to inter- organizations. In the 1980s, technology’s impact on organizations has been an ongoing research theme. For example, Rockart and Short (1989, p. 7) argued that a firm’s ability to continuously improve the effectiveness of managing interdependence is the critical element in responding to new and pressing competitive forces. The concept of inter-organizational systems (IOSs) emerged as a tool for achieving competitive advantages. Many well-known examples of information systems that provide competitive advantages that are discussed in the literature (Porter & Millar, 1985) are those of inter-organizational information systems (IOISs).
The purpose of this book is to provide the readers with a guidepost that helps them understand the current state of IOS and the foundational concepts. This book aims to provide readers with a framework for IOS management, which is comprised of the management of IOS technology infrastructure and the ongoing process of IOS analysis and planning, design, implementation, and evaluation (see Figure 1). Discussed in this book are the foundational concepts of the IOIS, its typology, real-world IOS examples (supranet-based IOS and intronetbased IOS), configurations (horizontal or vertical electronic linkage) and categories, benefits, risks, corporate strategies, future trends, and a wide range of issues addressing all aspects of IOIS management, including technological and organizational issues, opportunities, and managerial issues in the processes of planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating IOISs.
Figure 1: IOIS management framework
In designing supranet-based IOSs, identifying the information requirements of a business or industrial association is an extremely important activity in the IOS development process. This book presents the virtual association platform model, a framework of the relationships, and the corresponding information flow. The framework provides the readers with indispensable tools with which to identify information requirements as well as the flow of information among the various entities, such as consortium members, association (consortium), government, financial institutions, customers, nonmember customers, and nonmember suppliers. Other critically important contributions of this book are in the IOS network information management and IOS evaluations. Network information management refers to the management of IOS information resources, infrastructures, and systems to improve the management of information flows in the most efficient and effective way. Further, the book presents inter-organizational decision support systems, IOS research methods, and empirical study on how information technology encourages the creation of strategic networks.
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