Much of the IT world is currently suffering from "B2B fever," as forward- looking corporations realize that the upcoming business environment in certain industries will involve a robust and active supply chain. To survive the rapid pace and ever-changing list of partners in this impending business climate, many companies are planning to automate as much of the supply chain as possible with software. IT departments that specialize in supply chain software – known as "IT chain gangs" – are currently focusing on inbound links of the chain – procurement, for the most part – although some are also considering outbound links like distribution.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: We note that B2B fever too often prevents IT chain gangs and software vendors from seeing some of the risks that must be managed in automating the supply chain. One fact that eludes many is that not all B2B supplies can be bought online. Some are too expensive, legally liable or subject to stringent requirements such that they require considerable human involvement. For instance, it is unlikely in the future that Boeing will buy jet engines online, but it will probably buy bolts and washers through competitive trading communities.

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