GartnerGroup Identifies C-Commerce Movement

GartnerGroup Inc. has identified a complex form of e-business that is emerging as a dominant trend in the IT world. The new "collaborative commerce" (c-commerce) model describes the collaborative and fluid interaction of a community of personnel, business partners and customers that is joined together by Internet, component and integration technologies, resulting in agile but highly integrated "virtual" multi-company enterprises.

By enabling multiple trading partners to work interactively online, c-commerce strategies will produce lower costs, improve the quality of products and services, increase innovation and optimize trading opportunities. Analysts will provide an in-depth look at this concept at GartnerGroup’s Symposium/ITxpo ‘99, to be held October 11-15 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

According to the GartnerGroup report "C-Commerce: The New Arena for Business Applications," c-commerce network applications will replace Web-enabled, but static, supply chain applications as the dominant business application model by 2002. The emerging c-commerce trend will be a part of Fortune 1000 IT strategies by 2004.

"C-commerce is the next paradigm that business applications, such as enterprise resource planning will have to address," explains GartnerGroup Analyst Bruce Bond. "Current ERP and supply chain applications are focused on supporting transactions and optimization within the single enterprise or, at best, within and among the enterprise and its more traditional, strategic trading partners. C-commerce applications will move beyond that level of support to enable multiple enterprises to work together online within a dynamic trading community, or ‘cybermarket,’ in which relationships are far more fluid and opportunistic." Current leaders in applications and infrastructure, including IBM, i2 Technologies, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, are developing c-commerce strategies and software applications.

Some business segments in the manufacturing and distribution industries -- such as high-tech electronics and automotive -- are already using more proactive, collaborative technologies such as:

* Digital mockup technology, which enables a real-time 3-D design session to be invoked across a project Web site between a manufacturer and the manufacturer’s suppliers and is used to collaboratively design a product, thus reducing cost and product time-to-market.

* "Processware," which enables inter-enterprise business processes and workflow, can substantially reduce inventory and manufacturing/distribution cycle-times.

While these examples deal with immediate trading partners, c-commerce applications will ultimately expand capabilities across the supply chain. For example, supply chain "available-to-promise" functionality will enable enterprises to offer customers a more accurate reflection of when and how much of an order may be distributed, based on looking beyond the next upstream supplier all the way to the supply chain source.

C-commerce will also bring about an increase in application hosting as enterprises look to c-commerce vendors to manage the c-commerce "traffic" and tackle the integration challenges that will require specific and scarce skills.

The emergence of global shop floors and virtual enterprises, as well as the proliferation of marketing and delivery channels, is creating the need for c-commerce communities. Moreover, the speed at which business is transacted and the increased emphasis on time-based competition enables the substitution of technology for human contact in high-velocity information and knowledge exchange applications.

The technologies that are enabling c-commerce evolution include the growth of the Web, component architectures, acceptance of emerging standards, such as XML (extensible markup language) and collaborative technologies, including agents. In addition, integration technologies from more established IT vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and SAP are gaining wider acceptance as de facto standards, according to Bond.

The next evolution of business applications, including ERP, enterprise asset management, engineering, supply chain planning and front-office systems, will have to incorporate c-commerce strategies. Application vendors that do not build c-commerce infrastructures (and most will not) will have to enable their products to connect to them. IT managers will have to develop strategies so that they align with the vendors that demonstrate a strategic focus on the enterprise’s industry -- for example, demonstrating an understanding of consumer packaged goods, automotive, financial services, healthcare and others.

In preparing for the future of c-commerce-based business, GartnerGroup advises enterprises to extend, open and secure their application architectures to accommodate a broader universe of potential business partners.

For more information, visit GartnerGroup’s Web site at