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Charles Nie, Head of E-Business & Supply Chain Optimization, Covestro
E-Business, as the name defined, is about a wide use of information and communication technologies to support various activities of the business. These various activities not only include external processes such as conducting electronic purchasing with suppliers and electronic order processing towards customers, but also cover internal management processes including employee services, training, internal information sharing, recruiting, etc.
With many of these processes covered within the scope of e-business, companies implementing e-business cannot adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach and can’t expect one single solution can be used for all these process. It is normal to expect multiple tools’ usage will incur, depending on the kind of processes which is about to undergo electronization. Here are some of the commonly used tools:
a) Web shop, E-procurement portals, E-learning portals – the advantages of these tools are that once they are built with standard process design, they can be deployed to customers/purchaser/internal staff in a short timeframe, which would also reduce implementation cost. But they do come with disadvantages; since these solutions require manual human resource at the opposite parties’ side to use them (procurement officers to use webshop, customer service representatives to use e-procurement portal), this may cause qualitative and/or efficiency defects at their side because of human data entry, as a result, passes on these negative effects back to the implementer.
b) B2B integration via EDI – It has several advantages over the others, if it is given with the right provider chosen, each single EDI connection enables the two different trading companies to connect with strong IT security protection on both sides, simultaneously enabling ‘full automation’ across them and reduces the amount of human resources needed within the process. As the individual connection is
c) E-documents conversion – in this case if neither of the above solutions is applicable, then alternatively a company can deploy certain software to ‘automate the un-automatable’ documents to an e-version, and then allow its data to be exchanged with internal/external selected parties to reduce lead time for data exchange. It is no longer a ‘full automation’ but the implementation time and cost for these solutions are relatively less comparing with standard EDI connection. Many would now have the question whether with all these solutions available – is it the right time to deploy them for their business in APAC? There is no simple answer to that question but rather I would advise those who are interested, needs to take concern on the following: