Collaborative commerce - the next step

Technology is now helping companies move from e-commerce, electronic-commerce, to c-commerce, collaborative commerce. But while technology changes fast, mindsets don't.

The 'e' has forced everyone to change the way they work, but what about the 'c'?

SINGAPORE - Ed Miller believes that while the Internet and electronic commerce has revolutionized the way the companies do business, it really isn't the goal but rather the means.

"There is a terrific opportunity here, and we need to utilize it"

Ed Miller
CIMdata Inc.

Miller, president of CIMdata Inc., was in Singapore recently as the keynote speaker for the PE21 forum, a Gintic-sponsored event for the local precision engineering industry.

Miller in his keynote speech, addressed the need for the industry to embrace collaborative processes, especially in the product defination management stage.

Collaborative product defination management (PDM) isn't new, according to Miller. "We're just taking the next step," he said, referring to the use of the Internet as an easily accessible platform that was allowed for a faster rate of collaboration than before.

"There is a terrific opportunity here, and we need to utilize it," he said.

The new way of doing business has forced companies to change the way they work or approach customers, suppliers, partners, as well as internal processes, challenging companies to think of new ways to do business.

"We're being intellectually challenged to do business"

Ed Miller
CIMdata Inc.

Miller drew a parallel between the new economy business paradigms and the porting of the manufacturing industry from 2D design standards to 3D.

"That's what we're doing here," he said. "We're being intellectually challenged to do business."

Collaboration isn't new, said Miller: "We've been doing it for years - except that the process is easier now through better technology."

The impact of technology has several implications: increased personalization, as well as higher expectations in the areas of access to information, time to market, and standardized technology.

There is also a greater demand for security and data integrity; the suppliers you work with today may work with your competitors tomorrow.

Collaborative commerce, now enabled by the Internet, is due to revolutionize the manufacturing sector.

"Once people have had success with this in their past, they're willing to bet some more"

Ed Miller
CIMdata Inc.

Most precision engineering players in Singapore tend to be SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) or PLEs (potential large enterprises).

The need for them to collaborate now may be for reasons of competitive advantage, but that will soon change to be competitive necessity, said Miller, pointing out that client MNCs are realizing that collaboration with other smaller players helps them to cut costs.

"Today, it is a competitive advantage - five years down the road, it will be necessary," he said. "If you don't, you're out of the game."

"Getting an industry to embrace concepts is basically the same as changing mindsets - a lot of education," said Miller. "Forums, seminars... in-house programs to specific companies (that don't want to bring up sensitive dialogue in front of their competitors), help people to understand."

"You have to think about it - have to change the mindset. It's an internal approach," advised Miller. "It needs management commitment, and proper planning for support."

Miller believes that once companies see the fruits of such labors, they would be more likely to continue embracing new forms of technology to aid in their business.

"Once people have had success with this in their past, they're willing to bet some more," he said.

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