ارزش افزوده در زنجیره تامین جهانی B2B: جهت های استراتژیک و نقش اینترنت به عنوان یک محرک مزیت رقابتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|516||2008||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||8330 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 59–68
The Internet increases the likelihood of “disintermediation” in global B2B supply chains. At the same time, opportunities for intermediaries to generate incremental value for other channel members are opened up. The discussion highlights three such strategic directions — “information rich”, “relational exchange” and “joint-learning” — with the focus on the role played by the Internet in the implementation of these strategies. Particular attention is also given to the experience of a leading Hong Kong intermediary to illustrate the alignment of the Internet with each of these strategies for enhancing the competitive position of intermediaries in global supply chains.
A number of common dimensions can be discerned in most definitions of the customer value construct. Typically, value is defined as involving a subjective assessment in terms of the multiple costs and benefits associated with consumption activity (Monroe, 1990). Anderson, Narus, and Van Rossum (2006) emphasize that value perceptions are normally arrived at in a competitive context where it is important to understand how available market offerings compare, in the eyes of the consumer, in respect of both needs satisfaction and cost factors now, and in the future. Despite the importance of value creation for long term survival (Woodruff, 1997), relatively little empirical work has been done on the measurement of value creation in customer–seller relationships in industrial markets. Lapierre (2000) has identified product, service and relationship benefit dimensions, along with price and relationship cost as key “sacrifice” factors; and Walter et al. (2003) review cost, quality, volume and safeguard elements as primary components of value. In this discussion, particular attention is given to the results of a qualitative study identifying nine value drivers (Ulaga & Eggert, 2006). These drivers are classified under three sources: the “core offering” in respect of product quality, delivery performance and direct costs; service support, personal interaction, acquisition costs in the case of the “sourcing process”; and supplier know-how, time to market and operations costs for “customer operations”. The analysis highlights the power of the strategies reviewed, in harness with the Internet, to generate value in terms of these drivers. The focus on the Internet reflects its potential contribution, as a key IT tool, to generate superior value for both suppliers and customers in the global marketplace. McAfee (2006) has delineated three categories of IT with distinct characteristics and benefits. “Function” IT allows for more efficiency in executing stand-alone tasks; “network” IT allows for better communication; and “enterprise” IT promotes restructured working relationships. Although the Internet's most obvious contribution is in terms of networking, it also has important “enterprise” implications, most notably for managing customer relations (CRM) and the supply chain (SCM). As a channel for communication supporting the capture, integration and distribution of information and knowledge, the Internet has tremendous virtues, in a global context, as an asynchronous, personalized medium which is flexible, interactive and relatively inexpensive (Poon and Jevons, 1997 and Quelch and Klein, 1996). Although electronic interchange (EDI) has been used for many years to transmit electronic data between customers and suppliers over dedicated, proprietary networks, Internet users can take advantage of superior technology which results in cost savings and greater flexibility (Saloner & Spence, 2002). By virtue of its power as a readily available source of information, the Internet offers critical advantages for buyers and sellers that result in increased market efficiency. These benefits accrue as product and service availability becomes more transparent; as buyers and sellers are able to find each other more easily; and as price comparison is facilitated (Bakos, 1997 and Benjamin and Wigand, 1995). Associated advantages arise from savings in the purchasing process and the provision of superior service. For global firms, the Internet is particularly effective in overcoming the challenge of communicating across great distances and different time zones. Apart from the benefits associated with better access to information, which reduces transaction costs, the Internet is also an important channel for the sharing and interpretation of knowledge and thus supports learning activity and service provision. Knowledge differs from information in that the latter is essentially codifiable and factual (Huber, 1991), whereas knowledge is tacit and complex, and thus “sticky” and difficult to transfer (Polanyi, 1996 and Szulanski, 1996). Although not as “rich” a medium as face to face contact, the Internet allows for personalized, flexible interaction which facilitates both relational development and progress toward a common understanding of the meaning of both information and know-how. Access to information and knowledge and, more importantly, an ability to learn and use know-how effectively are core resources (Day, 2001 and Grant, 1996) which enable organizations to develop superior value for their customers (Moorman, Deshpande, & Zaltman, 1993). Knowledge based resources are thus an important competitive tool and, according to the resource based view Barney (1991), provide a foundation for sustainable competitive advantage that leads to superior performance. Kohli and Jaworski (1990), for example, have defined “market orientation” in terms of information generation and processing activity, and demonstrate that such an orientation is associated with better performance. The resource based (RBV) focus highlights firm specific endowments. However, intermediaries are typically located in a web of networks with both suppliers and customers (Hakansson, 1982), and it has been noted that resources such as knowledge are commonly dispersed across organizational boundaries (Dryer & Singh, 1998). Accordingly, competitive advantage can be generated by collaborating with other organizations (Srivastava, Shervani, & Fahey, 1998). Joint initiatives for acquiring, sharing and interpreting information and knowledge, and the role of the Internet as a facilitator of both learning and the generation of superior customer value, are therefore of interest to corporate strategists.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In the recent debate on the nature of marketing, support has emerged for a perspective emphasizing a shift in the marketing paradigm from “a goods dominant view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were central, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes and relationships are central” (Vargo & Lusch, 2004: 2). Advances in IT have played a crucial role in facilitating this transition by opening up access to information and knowledge that was previously dispersed and enabling “ the real time coordination of dispersed organizational activities ….. and the synchronization of the myriad points of customer contact that are integral to the new dominant logic” (Day, 2004: 18). The Internet has been a major force for innovation and change in the field of marketing, providing a superior channel of communication and a foundation for information exchange, relationship development and learning strategies in international markets. This crucial support role is reflected in Victor Fung's statement that we “add value for our customers by using information and relationships to manage the network. We help companies navigate through a world of expanded choice. And the expanded power of IT helps us to do that” (Margretta, 1998: 107). Intermediaries in global supply channels have many options to exploit the power of the Internet in support of strategies to develop competitive strength aimed at counteracting the “disintermediation” challenge to their role and viability. The three strategies discussed in this paper depend heavily on the support of IT to add value to services provided in global supply chains. However, the role of the Internet, as a crucial tool for navigating an increasingly complex environment, varies significantly in the three strategic postures discussed in this paper. The Internet provides vertical connectivity in the supply chain, but its critical contribution, in support of an IR strategy, is in facilitating horizontal communication within the intermediary such that relevant information is exploited to the maximum degree in the value creation process. The internal “networking” capability of the Internet, plus its “functional” role in facilitating tasks such as data acquisition are thus central to its role. Although an IR strategy has limitations arising from a focus on information and discrete transactions, it is able to create enhanced transactional value with highly tangible benefits. These relate primarily to product quality, delivery performance and acquisition costs. The intermediary Intranet, and routines for generating, distributing and storing information internally, are instrumental in delivering these advantages, with a high premium accorded to speed, depth of coverage and security. It is noteworthy that an IR strategy can achieve significant traction without a need to enter into significant collaboration with other channel members. Thus the LF case indicates that a critical requirement is to be closely attuned to the market environment in terms of key factors such as supply availability, prices, relative quality and the transaction specific needs and situation of down-stream customers and up-stream suppliers. Relational exchange with channel members will often make it easier to access required data, but much of the information needed is not highly confidential and can be captured if an intermediary knows “who does what where” and has the right systems in place to make effective use of this data. A service-centered model of marketing emphasizes “collaborating with and learning from customers and being adaptive to their individual and dynamic needs” (Vargo & Lusch, 2004: 6). Critical ideas underpinning this perspective are the notions that customers should be actively engaged in relational exchange and that they are co-producers of services which have value “in use”; and that information and know-how are the fundamental drivers of service value. This implies a critical role for IT in enabling organizations “to learn and to store more information about the customer, which in turn gives the company more ability to customize its services and to develop customer relationships” (Rust, 2004:24). In this light, it is desirable that intermediaries move beyond IR strategies to the development of relational and joint-learning strategies. Both these directions have an external orientation, involving a focus on on-going organizational interaction, in contrast to intensive management of information in a one-off, transactional context. In the case of relational exchange, the “networking” capability of the Internet is crucial in facilitating the delivery of incremental value to other members of the supply chain, primarily through “sourcing process” benefits in the areas of service support and personal interaction. As a consequence, systems compatibility between partners in the supply chain is a primary concern, and this will normally require heavy Internet related investment in both hardware and software that is designed to support seamless communication across organizational boundaries with multiple partners in the global supply chain. Explicit recognition of the international context is important, with a need to consider cultural issues that will affect the infrastructure that is put in place. In respect of website policy, for example, important questions need to be addressed regarding customization in areas such as language policy and varying customer requirements. In most situations, successful relational exchange is essential in order to provide a platform for a joint-learning strategy. However, joint-learning requires much more than relational exchange since it involves capturing, storing and sharing knowledge which is characteristically experiential, intangible, sensitive and hard to store and absorb. The “networking” role of the Internet is, once again, fundamental in facilitating cross organizational, cross border connectivity between learning partners. Equally important is the Internet's “enterprise” role in supporting the new working relationships needed to support crucial activities concerning the surfacing and exchange of know-how, and the establishment and management of joint organizational memory. In the context of information acquisition and exploitation, search engines and data mining have obvious value. Knowledge discovery and capture is more challenging because of the tacit nature of much know-how. Despite these problems, Internet-based tools give staff the opportunity to make their know-how more tangible, and also promote the discussion and debate which is central to much learning activity. Social networking systems are particularly valuable in supporting relational exchange and learning. Relevant tools include electronic discussion groups, blogs and collaboration software that enable work groups in a network to coordinate their activity. The establishment of virtual communities of interest — “organic and self-organized group of individuals who are dispersed geographically or organizationally but communicate regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest” (Becerra-Fernandez, Gonzalez & Sabherwal, 2004: 366) — is particularly valuable. But it is important to recognize that, however powerful the technology deployed, much knowledge cannot easily be articulated and codified (Mohamed, Stankosky, & Murray 2006). Once information and know-how that can be codified are identified and captured, the problem of establishing organizational memory becomes a key issue. Primary questions concern how to retrieve and store know-how and information, what should be stored and for how long; what directories should be established; and who can access what? Overseas locations will typically store key data locally, but establishment of organizational memory to support joint-learning normally requires centralization. It thus becomes important to develop Internet-based best practice and lessons learned databases, and expert locator systems. Other challenges concern “standardizing and consolidating e-mail storage silos, replacing separate storage with a centralized system and enforcing service level agreements to establish the rights and obligations of the user and the service provider.” (Milburn, 2006 p. 20). Joint approaches to codifying and storing know-how and systems which allow for both security and open access for learning “partners” will require new working relationships within and across organizational boundaries. If these challenges can be surmounted, joint-learning has the potential to deliver significant incremental value across all three of the major value drivers identified by Ulaga and Eggert (2006). Developing strong relationships, particularly in the context of collaborative learning, will normally require some direct personal engagement. Here the role of the Internet is supportive in facilitating pre-and post-meeting communication. However, personal interaction is expensive and normally infrequent, particularly in an international context, and the Internet plays a vital role in supporting the on-going engagement needed for successful relational exchange and joint-learning. LF's success in meeting the disintermediation threat is primarily due to the implementation of a flexible business model where the services the firm offers to global supply chain members have been incrementally expanded and refined over time. As discussed, the Internet has played an instrumental role in this process, and the LF case supports the argument that the opportunities opened up by IT do not necessarily imply greater disintermediation (Samiee, 1998), and that the Internet plays an integral role supporting strategies for the generation of incremental value for supply channel members. Investment in hardware and systems to capture, distribute, store and manage access to information and knowledge mediated by the Internet is essential, with particular systems requirements likely to vary with the strategy being pursued. Irrespective of the policies being implemented, the required investment will encompass expenditure in many areas. Apart from obvious spending on hardware and software, it will also be necessary to spend heavily on training in fields such as data management and the use of customer specific software. Capturing relevant information will also be expensive. In the LF case, for example, the costs of supporting staff out in the field, who obtain critical market and supplier data, are high. Security is another key concern, with a requirement for secure Internet connections that are hard to hack, and control over access to stored data. Software that allows for rapid data transmission, the collaborative management of data files and unified access on demand should also be user-friendly. This can cause conflicts since high security software is less convenient to use and decisions need to be made bearing in mind the trade-off between security and breadth of access to confidential data. Policies therefore need to be developed regarding user data needs, information risks, and the assignment of access rights. Ideally, standardization is desirable but customization of service level agreements will be necessary because of the need to interact with multiple channel members. Common systems requirements include software for document management, analytical processing and query and reporting tools, with socially oriented systems likely to be particularly valuable in supporting relational exchange and learning. However, “if a company does not have a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration all the technology in the world is not going to help.” (Baxter, 2006: 1). Therefore, there needs to be a willingness to work together, both within and outside organizational boundaries. This requirement is most marked in the case of joint-learning strategies where the intermediary commonly needs to pursue a proactive role, but will not succeed without the willing collaboration of other members in the supply chain. Ensuring cooperation and teamwork within organizations is not easy, and the problems of cross-organizational collaboration are an even greater challenge, particularly in a cross-cultural international context. This insight has several implications. First, it indicates that a pre-requisite for successful joint-learning is the implementation of a relational exchange strategy. Without the trust and mutual confidence associated with relational exchange, there is unlikely to be the required investment in resources and time, and the willingness to share confidential information and knowledge, necessary for joint-learning. Here it is important to recognize that personal contact will often be needed from time to time to support trust building. Second, joint-learning is hard to implement and will only flourish when the benefits from engagement are shared equitably. Finally, organizational initiatives are needed to support and encourage information exchange, relational involvement and joint-learning. LF's development of specialized, entrepreneurially oriented divisions focusing on working with selected customers, on a one-stop basis, illustrates the power of the strategy–structure linkage. Additional initiatives are also desirable to reward collaborative behavior, and the deep involvement needed with supply chain members for successful relational exchange and learning will normally require periodic, direct personal interaction to support the development of personal chemistry, trust and commitment. Internet linkages thus need to be supplemented by using “richer” channels for personal engagement at the appropriate time. Finally, it should be noted that there is evidence from the relational exchange literature that suppliers are more interested in relational exchange than buyers (Jap, 1999), primarily because of perceptions of greater uncertainty in transactions with customers who are often able to find an alternative service provider without too much difficulty. When operating as a buyer, the shoe is on the other foot, with less interest in relationships with suppliers since this reduces flexibility to respond rapidly to changing conditions on the supply side. In so far as this perspective reflects mainstream practice, then intermediaries will devote less time to pursuing relational exchange and joint-learning with suppliers, and the Internet will play a less important role in the up-stream context.