Collaborative electronic relationships with business partners promise to generate tremendous savings for today’s corporations. In the offline world, business partners have long shared data and information, jointly developed products, negotiated prices and terms, queried product specifi cations, and discussed demand expectations. These cooperative processes are essential elements of any successful business. In the past, the communication- and information-intensive nature of collaboration made it cumbersome and expensive. Over the years, companies developed unique and non-standard processes to collaborate and cooperate with external entities, be they vendors, customers or partners. Today, new technologies have opened doors to tremendous cost-saving and revenue-generating opportunities. To achieve these benefi ts, companies must reexamine, reengineer and sometimes even remove ineffi cient processes that are incongruent with new technologies.
Collaborative software helps companies work cooperatively with external parties to gain mutual advantages. The most famous collaborative electronic partnership was created in the 1990s between Proctor & Gamble and Wal- Mart, with an implementation price tag in the millions, and an accrued benefi t measuring magnitudes greater (P&G saved close to $2.5 billion from 1990-1997 from their supply chain initiatives). Collaborative software in use today includes applications for areas such as e-procurement (for direct and indirect goods), supply chain management, sell-side e-commerce, product lifecycle management and partner relationship management. Within these broad categories are numerous, more specifi c classes of applications. For example, supply chain management encompasses a host of technologies such as supply chain event management software that creates visibility for partners into the entire supply chain, supply chain planning that allows partners to collaboratively plan to optimize benefi t to the entire supply chain, and several others.
For the layman, these new technologies may seem quite futuristic, but in reality they have already been adopted within the fl avor and fragrance industry today. Sell-side e-commerce solutions have been implemented by a host of companies, including Givaudan (with GivaudanAccess), Firmenich, Bedoukian, Vigon International, Ashland Chemical, Sigma Aldrich and many others. Similarly, third-party e-procurement and sales management solutions are gaining momentum with a steadily growing user base. Flavor and fragrance manufacturers sense the need to leverage their investment in expensive ERP implementations, and are exploring supply chain technologies as a means of improving communication and information access. Software providers with compatible technologies that promise to save time and money are now receiving greater attention and review.