The New Economy involves many transformations, of course, but there is one fashionable concept around which everything else revolves: 'The integration of value chains'. This refers to the three ways in which the new information-networking technologies assist the enterprise: supply-chain optimisation on the back end, interaction with customers on the front end, and the linking up of front-and back-end processes.
Virtual back-scratchers. The first of these will be ominously familiar.
Supply-chain optimisation began, in the early '90s, as an effort in 'enterprise resource planning', or ERP. By means of networked software applications, ERP let the company's diverse and far-flung business units automate internal processes and co-ordinate one another's procurement, consumption, and production to achieve greater efficiencies. The $20-billion market for these services has been led by companies such as SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, and Baan. Chances are, your competitors are already talking with them.