Both Andy Whinston (University of Texas), Vikas Krishna (IBM Almaden Research Center) and myself had the honor to held key notes at the very interesting pre-ICIS workshop WeB 2008 - this year in Paris.
Here is the summary of my talk.
The Value of Smart Business Networks: Experiments and Experiences
Organizations are moving, or must move, from today’s relatively stable and slow-moving business networks to that open digital platform where business is conducted across a rapidly-formed network with anyone, anywhere, anytime despite different business processes and computer systems. The disadvantages and associated costs of the more traditional approaches are caused by the inability to provide relative complex, bundled, and fast delivered products and services. The potential of the new business network approach is to create these types of products and services with the help of combining business network insights with telecommunication capabilities.
The “business” is no longer a self-contained organization working together with closely coupled partners. It is a participant in a number of networks where it may lead or act together with others. The “network” takes additional layers of meaning – from the ICT infrastructures to the interactions between businesses and individuals. Rather than viewing the business as a sequential chain of events (a value chain), actors in a smart business network seek linkages that are novel and different creating remarkable, “better than usual” results.
In this presentation we discuss the latest research results undertaken by different actors in the Smart Business Network Initiative (SBNi). The results of experiments and experiences show that there are several critical capabilities that determine the value of smart business networks. We discuss three components. Firstly, the number of nodes that an actor can “see” from a specific position in the network is important. With a larger network horizon a company can take a more advantageous network position depending on the distribution of the network horizons across all actors and up to a certain saturation point. Secondly, the way that a business network has the ability to “rapidly pick, plug, and play” to configure rapidly to meet a specific objective, for example, to react to a customer order or an unexpected situation (for example dealing with emergencies). Quick connect and disconnect capabilities combined with product, service, and process modularization is crucial. Thirdly, the way flexible decision making is supported with a service-oriented architecture. With the help of business network dashboards managers are able to improve their strategic and operational decision making.