Clear's difficulties highlight one of the main challenges to developing e-collaboration. As Tradehub manager of business development and infrastructure Dr Robert Starling told a recent IES conference, while far-reaching connectivity will evolve eventually, it won't happen soon. Instead, what are emerging are "islands of connectivity" brought into being as the result of pressure from a major buyer or supplier, or through the efforts of new intermediaries like "portal/exchanges". Starling says business processes are becoming linked within and between organisations; but he finds the levels of interaction being driven by considerations of security and value. "The concept of linking supply chains is simple," Starling says. "However, the simple model is being complicated by the move from orderly - or at least perceived as orderly - supply chains to dynamic supply webs which are changing as buyers 'flit' between suppliers offering the best terms.
"Patterns in use of the Internet for trading are evolving. Organisations are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - some are coalescing to form trading groups or islands [with] others remaining on the side and watching as parts of the ‘connected world' are linking and merging. These early alignments are forming, breaking apart and reforming as the benefits of connectivity are being tried and tested."
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