Strategic role of internet-related technologies in supply chain networks
Organisations are operating in increasingly competitive market places. To enhance competitiveness, organisations are shifting their focus from individual supply chains to improving the responsiveness of the whole Supply Chain Network (SCN) that serves and impacts the level of final product or service provided to customers. Consequently, there has been a major upsurge of interest in the role of Internet-related technologies (IRT) in advancing SCNs. This area was examined by conducting case studies with large organisations from a range of industries that focused on the function of IRT in inter-organisational supply chain processes. A number of major themes emerged. Firstly, it is clear that IRT will be at the heart of future SCN communication surrounding enabling, operational and strategic supply chain processes. IRT provide a mechanism for integrating different supply chainrelated systems thus leading to improved information sharing and visibility. Furthermore, it widens the scope and flexibility of intra-organisational and interorganisational linkages and pathways that are available between different network members. In addition, IRT is being used to broaden and deepen relationships with key partners and within teams formed around supply chain processes. IRT can also be personalised to suit different organisations and people in the SCN and to provide appropriate access to web links, information and applications. However, it is important to understand that IRT cannot be equally applied throughout the supply chain. A number of factors will influence its suitability including the type and stage of supply chain processes, the nature of activities, the content of communication and the people communicating. The thesis will provide guidance to academics and practitioners on the strategic role of IRT. Finally, future research is recommended to investigate the additional impact that smart tags and mobile technologies will have and the long term effects of technological linkages on social relations between different network members.