When product price and quality defined success, departmental systems that optimized productivity could create the competitive advantage. Then feature- rich, high-quality products became standard, making customer service mission- critical. Attracting and retaining customers – the underlying theme of customer relationship management (CRM) applications – differentiated the suppliers. Now, rapidly advancing business processes create new ways of doing business such as Internet auctions, trading exchanges, mobile communication and Web-based self- service. Serving customers better requires not only mobilizing all of an organization's processes, but collaborating within e-business communities as well. In the collaborative market, e-business systems become as much a core competency as the goods or services a company provides.

Participating in collaborative markets requires users to build upon successful legacy systems and use new business processes such as e-procurement, Web self-service and automated channel partner support. It also means exploiting emerging services such as trading exchanges and business process outsourcing. CRM, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) systems may wrestle for king-of-the-hill status, but they will not achieve it. These systems form the core of a company's e-business platform – to be embellished by analytic solutions that yield actionable information and supported by integration that intertwines and extends them for participation in external markets. If they are to thrive, companies must do more than leverage the information and processes contained within their systems; they must also reach out and adopt relevant new technologies and processes. It is important to manage internal operations, product life cycles, supply chains and customer relationships well; but successful participation in collaborative markets will require integration of these systems and the adoption of newly emerging processes and technologies.

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