Extranet Based Supply Chain Innovation

author Nigel Davies, March 1, 2009

I have posted on several occasions that in my opinion the main focus of corporate collaboration systems should be increasing innovation, and I wanted to explore this theme again.

Given this premise we know that the main areas in which a corporation can innovate through collaboration is either across internal silos – classically functional or geographic –  or into the extended enterprise – most obviously through the supply chain but also of course into other partners and customers.

But I’m becoming concerned that the understanding of many of our clients is still slightly behind at least our own version of the web 2.0 enabled corporate vision. Let’s take the supply chain as my specific example for this post.

We have several clients that look to leverage the Claromentis portal as a way of reaching out to suppliers – something we enjoy and of course can facilitate very easily.

But what I am seeing is that still this is being viewed as the “next generation of outsourcing” – e-portal procurement for example, and not any transforming engagement with the extended supply chain. The focus too often is on practicalities – central procurement, contract based document management and price efficiencies.

To me this is just an expression of command and control using web 1.0. What we at Claromentis are excited about is ways to interact with a potential community of suppliers that are no longer supplying products – but are helping to provide the actual product design, because our client specifically does not have that expertise – and so must reach out to the extended enterprise to collaborate in order to innovate.


In this world of supply side web 2.0 innovation the purchaser – in our case a client using Claromentis  – acknowledges that it does not have the skill to define more than the basic details of what it requires to purchase – often a particular component –  in order to deliver the ideal product it needs to take to the market in a value proposition it understands.

In this situation suppliers are partners, and the web is a true network of idea exchange and innovation. This is an example of corporate web 2.0 in action, a million ways from an electronic version of command and control – and it is exciting.

Companies that participate are extending their talent pool in ways that ignore traditional boundaries.