Analyzing the global commerce schemes, it can be said that the traditional basis of commerce remained the same throughout history. Nevertheless, numeral structural, organizational and managerial intervention facilitates the initial simple idea of commerce, which in light of the globalization and the raised competition can become the key difference in establishing a competitive advantage for the company. One of such key differences in the implementation of various information systems in the company, which should facilitate the company’s regular activities. In that regard, this report demonstrates the benefits of implementing a new information system in the form of the corporate portal, based on the example of Ken & Ken, Inc., a leading supplier of peripheral devices such as computer mouse, keyboards, etc.
Ken & Ken, Inc., is a San Francisco-based manufacturer of computer peripheral devices such as pointing devices, keyboards, webcams, microphones, etc. Additionally, the company is known as an Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of many computer-based parts such as hard disks, video adapters, and motherboards, where the company collaborates with many computer assembly companies providing them with the necessary details during the assembly process. Moving from an independent sales approach, established by the company at the beginning of their activity, where the company provided their products directly to retail stores, the company recognized the importance of logistics in creating supply chains with regular partners.
The company mostly relied on logistics firms for supplying their partners with the details they require. In that sense, the regular communication pattern was established through emails, phones, and faxes. The lack of flexibility in that pattern was apparent through the involvement of several employees in the management section for each operation. Additionally, due to the company’s expansion, the geographical dispersion of the company’s branches made the circulation of documents through the company uncomfortable.
Additionally, the company recently has approached the e-commerce field through their website which proved to be efficient through the first sales indicators. In that regard the company has defined the field in which it needs improvement and further development as follows:
- Business-to-consumer: Sales chain which takes the form of retail supplies or e-commerce through the website.
- Business- to- Business: Partnership as OEM with assembling companies and logistics firms.
- Business-to-employee: Inter-corporate unification of system resources through organizing the work of different departments and subsidiaries in a different location providing them with a single easy-access database.
A corporate portal is a set of applications that allows the company to open and offer the information stored within and outside of the organization, and to give each user a uniform point of access to the information intended only for himher, which is necessary for making administrative decisions, i.e. direct use of the acquired technologies of public information portals in the corporate purposes. In outlining the relation between corporate portal and c-commerce, the main point of interaction that should be mentioned is the way the corporate portal can be used in collaborative commerce.
Corporate portals provide personalized access to important information, applications, and processes for the enterprise employees, its clients, distributors, and suppliers. Hence, the companies prefer to use portals to demonstrate to the clients some aspects of the internal operations of the enterprise, as well as to increase the activities transparency.
When corporate portals are directed toward external contacts, they allow clients to automatically interact with the enterprise. Clients can supervise various processes of the enterprise and receive new data on interesting products or services. Thus, clients receive means of consolidation of mutual relations with a large enterprise.
Being directed toward the inside of the company, corporate portals supply the employees with the mechanism of record-keeping of their official duties and administrative relations with the employer. Modern corporate portals allow the employees to conduct teamwork and to get access to the information on their status through a unified interface. These data can be received using a usual desktop computer, a remote computer, portable devices, and systems of interactive voice response.
Strategies of product sales through electronic commerce demand developing a system that serves all existing channels of external interaction. The enterprises should be ready to serve all their supply channels, including distributors, dealers, and independent agents, as well as solve issues of organizing their system of electronic purchases, channels of direct sales between the enterprises, and sales using wireless devices.
The numerous applications of electronic commerce combined by the enterprise in a unified system are capable to unite all aspects of the commercial activity of the enterprise and solve the problem of integration with already existing systems that are directly connected with the major commercial functions. The corporate portal provides access to data of these systems specific to each enterprise, where the systems are not initially built into the portal.
Portals can be classified based on their functions as follows:
- EIP (Enterprise Information Portal) – A portal that provides personified access to the internal and external informational resources of the company.
- EEP – (Enterprise Expertise Portals) – A portal that provides the connection between the users based on their level of expertise. In case the portal does not contain the needed information, wherein case of its absence, the portal connects the user to corresponding experts and specialists who can provide the necessary information.
- EAP (Enterprise Application Portal) – A portal that provides different applications and services for users and connects them to different corporate information systems.
- ECP (Enterprise Collaboration Portal) –A portal that presents different information and services that support the joint work of a group of employees on a particular task.
- EKP (Enterprise Knowledge Portal) – Integrated portal which combines the functions of the previously mentioned portals, which is designed for the provision of collective work, automation of business processes with maximal information support, and accumulated corporate information.
Thus, corporate portals’ electronic and commercial applications might include the following key components, content management, sales management, analytics of electronic business, interactive system of sales, and management of the catalog.
- Management of content – the mechanism of managing content is mutual for electronic commerce applications of the enterprise and its corporate portal, especially when interacting with business partners is carried out through the portal.
- Sales Management – users of the corporate portal should have the possibility to check the status of the order and receive all the information through the portal while managing the order is carried out directly through the corresponding application of electronic commerce.
- Analytics of electronic business – analytical reports created through electronic commerce applications, rather than the corporate portal.
- Interactive system of sales – sales management is carried out through internal enterprise applications.
- Management of the catalog – the information regarding the existing product that could be entered through internal applications and managed through the corporate portal.
The enterprises should lead the initiatives of electronic commerce in a tandem with developing the corporate portal. The spectrum of issues that are solved through electronic-commercial projects, such as the integration with existing sales management systems is not reduced to representative integration, characteristic of corporate portals. The enterprise should consider the purposes and technological questions of corporate portals and electronic commerce together to reduce to the minimum the problems of integration and improve the interaction between them as much as possible to increase profitability and controllability of projects.
Implementation in the Case of Ken & Ken, Inc.
Addressing each area of development for the company, it should be mentioned that the implementation of corporate portals can be flexible addressing areas of development individually. Addressing the field of B2C, the best implementation would be integrating the electronic commerce application into the corporate portal. In addition to the facilitation for the customer to obtain the information on the company, retail sellers would have the possibility to track the information of the supply channels and the orders through separate personalized access.
Addressing the field of B2E, the portal could serve as an inter-corporate system for organizing the work of the company’s personnel, separate structures, and departments. The systems of planning the resources of the enterprise (enterprise resource planning – ERP) were the original center of the universe of automating business processes, around which there were control systems of interaction with customers (customer relationship management – CRM) and control systems of logistical chains (supply chain management – SCM). However, with the advent of new electronic market space, SCM and CRM will get rid of the subordinated role and will act on equal with ERP. In the traditional model of business where the system of planning the resources of the enterprise had the central role, the basic emphasis is put on the productivity of users. The implemented corporate B2E system will function in the corporate intranet. The intranet could use secure channels to access the internet from within the company as well as accessing the intranet using secure channels from the internet. Employees will be able to share corporate information from different departments, collaborating in team projects using a single unified interface that can be accessed regardless of the geographical location.
Addressing the field of B2B, the corporate portal will automate the process of the interaction between the company and its business partners. Taking as an example WANLink, a computer manufacturer for which Ken & Ken is a long-term supplier of OEM components, the portal will allow WANLik to manage the status of their orders starting from the warehouse availability, and quantity to logistics tracking along with document circulation through one secure access.
It should be noted that to implement all the necessary features as a single information system, the corporate portal will act as a single Enterprise Knowledge Portal, where different levels of secure access will allow the companies to co-operate with employees, consumers, shareholders, supply chains and suppliers within the limits of one global information environment. The development of the corporate portal can be implemented using enterprise portal software (EPS) which is intended for integrating the data, the employees, and business processes in one informational environment organizing secure access, generally using a web-based interface. The main aspect of such a solution is providing a function of creating and managing decentralized content. Addressing the issue of cost-effectiveness, the portal can be started with the minimal set of functions which will be defined through a detailed analysis, while additional functions can be added in a particular term.
It can be seen through the report that the implementation of corporate portals can facilitate many business processes in Ken & Ken, Inc. The main goal is increasing efficiency in the business environment to maintain a competitive advantage. In the world of expanding globalization, the transparency of business processes with partners is a key factor not less important than cost advantage. In that sense, the implementation of corporate portals can be seen as one step further in that direction, where geographical locations are no longer obstacles to managing the business effectively and efficiently.
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