Here's a simple profit equation: Give customers what they want, and they'll do business with you. While this is simple to say, it is difficult to do. There is no demographic certainty anymore. Fifty-year-olds buy rock music CDs, and 18- year-olds have credit cards to finance sophisticated tastes. Customers want instant satisfaction coupled with highly personalized service. It's not enough to manage customer relationships in a vacuum without looking at the value chain as a whole. It's also not enough to have static relationships with any trading partner – customer or vendor. There's a new (forgive the cliché) paradigm operating in today's information technology environment – collaboration. The trendy name is collaborative commerce (c-commerce).

Gartner defines c-commerce as "... a business strategy that motivates value- chain partners with a common business interest to generate value through sharing information at all phases of the business cycle (from product development to distribution). The goal is to enhance profitability while satisfying ever-increasing customer demands. All members of the value chain benefit by combining their core competencies to create a new product or service that is of higher value than the sum of its components."1 Organizations that want to realize the synergies created by the highly lucrative c-commerce marketplace should have three goals: current information to enable efficient, accurate, timely decision making; the ability to get current, customized information to the right people at the right time for analysis and trending; and communication links that cross intra- and inter- organizational boundaries and enable organizations to build close-knit partnerships.

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