As mentioned, communication should be across the supply chain, and it could be demonstrated by the following example as described by Steinfield, et al (1995). A large multinational, electrical appliance and consumer electronics manufacturer that used France Telecom’s Teletel system to support connections to approximately 10,000 separate retailers and service engineers throughout France. The after-sales service subsidiary of this manufacturer provided replacement parts and training to its widely dispersed customers base. Through the use of the on-line ordering, coupled with courier service for rapid delivery, the firm was able to eliminate regional parts warehouses and reduce the average time from two weeks to two days. In the past, service engineers waited until they had a sufficient need for parts before driving to the regional warehouse. Once the system was implemented, they used the Teletel based “just-in-time” stocking practice for replacement parts.

Moving towards a centralised warehouse reduces the need for replicated inventories and extra personnel around the country, creating substantial savings. Moreover, service engineers were introduced to an expert system based training application, which was designed to diagnose the fault and indicate the repairs needs. This clearly helped the engineers provide faster service to the customers. This system also accumulated data of customers and the respective repair problems, which provides valuable feedback to the sales ; marketing divisions and the design and manufacturing divisions. The beauty of this environment is that it could manage relationships with a large number of customers and as well as suppliers. (http://www.enix.co.uk – 18/12/03)

Commerce on the Internet is already a reality. Since the firm is starting business on-line, it must start with a merchant account to process customers’ credit cards for payments purposes. These accounts normally include set-up costs, monthly charges and per-transaction costs. However, despite the hype of e-commerce, it lacks the readily available and appropriate payment mechanisms. Yes, payments are made through credit cards, but concerns over security and thrust have lead many firms to rely on the fax or telephone to confirm authorisation details. However, one is astonished by this reality as customers are confidently making on-line payments for phonographic sites. Hence it leads the writer to believe that firms have to develop innovative techniques to assure customers of the safety of its web-site and the its secured payment mechanism.

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As mentioned earlier, less than 10% of the world’s population are actually connected to the Internet. This clearly does not justify the statement that “everyone and every organizations will be connected”. However the figures are growing as illustrated by the statement “the number of Chinese Internet users has risen to 25.4 million from 8.9 million in 1999”. (http://www.thocp.net/timeline – 12/1/04). Furthermore, issues such as infrastructure costs, education standards, cost of connection etc. are different in Africa, Middle East and the US. Clearly developed countries, like the United States of America has a higher percentage of people and organizations connected to e-commerce but is this enough with the globalisation concept of doing business today. This indicates that the brick ; mortar businesses are still relevant and needed.

Also government policies could restrict access into the Internet. The government of China appeared to be unsure about letting her citizens freely roam the Internet and are starting to shut down Internet cafes that have no official license. In September 2003 the authorities also closed down the non-Chinese search engines. What was left accessible for the Chinese citizens was censored by cybercops. China also asked foreign websites to refrain from contents that would be regarded as being subversive. In the latter months of this year the rules to use the Internet for Chinese citizens were tightened and more stringently imposed. (http://www.thocp.net/timeline – 12/1/04)

Secondly the inconsistent worldwide infrastructure capability does not make it possible to have a very high bandwidth rate globally. The writer could not sight a specific worldwide standard bandwidth rate requirement. As this article was written in 1995, history has proven that this assumption has only been partly realised, as there has been improvement of the bandwidth since 1995 as illustrated below.

All supercomputing centres were flabbergasted by the public announcement of NEC’s Earth Simulator System (ESS). The performance overtook the fastest supercomputer since two years: IBM’s ASCI white by a factor 5. This special purpose machine was entirely constructed on vector processors and used for climatological research. The ultra high-speed parallel computing system, “Earth Simulator” attained the best computing performance in the world according to the Linpack benchmark test. The result of this test of performance, 35.61 TFlops (trillion operations per second), was approved and the Earth Simulator was registered as the world’ s fastest supercomputer by Dr. Jack J. Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, USA, – (http://www.thocp.net/timeline – 12/1/04).

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