No Network Nirvana

Venture capital has gone underground, revolutionary new technological developments are unlikely in the near future, and the compelling issues for businesses that use advanced software continue to be standardization and integration with existing programs. So said members of a technology panel at the 2002 Council of Logistics Management conference in San Francisco. “The nirvana of the totally networked supply chain remains elusive,” said Peter Coleman, a principal with Greenwich, CT-based Soundview Technology Group Inc. On the bright side, as one panelist pointed out, everyone can look on the Internet “as one big, free, communications medium.”

These observations reconfirm the results of a 2001 survey of B2B supply chain management conducted by A. T. Kearney Inc. with Retail Info Systems News and Consumer Goods Technology. Executives from retail and consumer goods companies agreed that integration of information systems is crucial to business success in the next few years.

In fact, integrating legacy systems with online and offline applications appears to be the immediate goal of most respondents. Even so, only about one-fourth of retail companies and one-third of consumer goods firms expect to have achieved such integration by 2003. And almost a quarter of the respondents in both categories claimed to have no plans for such integration efforts.

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