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Companies are using Web-based extranet technologies to build “trading communities.” These inter-organizational systems can support transaction processing and cooperative and shared decision making. Despite the many possibilities, creating IODSSs involves resolving a number of real-world issues, including how to adapt or change business processes and how to provide incentives for stakeholders to use IODSSs. Managers in interdependent organizations need to cooperate to build IODSSs, and managers in focal organizations need to consider what types of DSSs can assist their stakeholders. Also, managers in focal organizations must confront a variety of business, technical, and legal issues and impediments if they want to build effective IODSSs. Generally, the “focal organization” owns the IODSS.
The first major business issue that must be confronted is who will use the system—customers, suppliers, or others? Then focal organization managers need to ask a number of more specific questions: What is the cost of the proposed IODSS, and who will pay the cost? Then managers need to ask: Do we need to reengineer or redesign our processes? Does the Internet increase the speed of decisions and transactions and create efficiencies for our business? Will the use of networks, Web-based DSSs, and the Internet create new value for customers? Too many “No” answers to such questions and proposed IODSS projects will certainly fail.
In terms of technical issues, managers need to ask if the initiating company has the staff and technology in place to build the proposed IODSS. Someone needs to determine what hardware and software the partners and participants will need to acquire. Technical issues can be overcome if potential problems and needs are identified early in the development process.
Finally, from a legal perspective, managers need to determine what material can be made available to external users, especially customers and suppliers, to support their decision making. And, focal organization managers should ask: Do we have privacy or liability issues or copyright issues associated with the proposed IODSS project?
Implementation can be especially difficult, because an IODSS Project Team needs the support of at least two sets of senior executives. Also, the team needs to address all of the above issues in terms of two or more different business and information technology cultures.
The most advanced IODSSs use the public Internet to create communication links. The systems may involve any stakeholder with access to the Internet and authority or privileges to use specific capabilities. These advanced systems are associated with collaboration and decision support. The increasing use of the Internet/Web is significantly decreasing the costs of building IODSS networks between suppliers, customers, and manufacturers/retailers. The Web facilitates cooperative processes and can include buyers, suppliers, and partners in redesigned business processes. With IODSSs supporting value chains, the supply-chain management system and the customer support system can be integrated. Integration can provide sharing of manufacturing, inventory, sales, and other data. Such a data-driven IODSS helps suppliers build to order and stock inventory based on more accurate projections.
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