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Business, implementation and management issues of "many to many" collaborative environments

: Sakkas, N.; Malkewitz, R.

Information, knowledge, systems management 2 (2001), Nr.3, S.229-238
ISSN: 1389-1995
Fraunhofer IGD ()
E-Commerce; network architecture; Collaborative Environments

Many to many collaborative environments, often also referred to as exchanges, are becoming more and more popular on the web. Their common feature is that a business entity positions itself between demand and supply, aspiring to provide for an effective bridge. In its simplest form, the intermediary entity just provides basic supplier identification data to any requesting user, according to the criteria the user has specified.
However, very often the operation modalities go well beyond this elementary functionality and may lead to much more advanced and complex business engagements. Our particular implementation of a "many to many" collaborative environment is based on a simple, yet powerful conceptual extension to the traditional client-server paradigm. It suggests a three-layer model, including, besides the clients and the servers, also a network layer, offering a set of services to the demand and supply side alike.
In the literature, we have called this architecture a hyper chain. In this work a number of aspects of our architecture will be presented, mainly building upon an implementation for the furniture sector that is currently in its marketing phase as well as on other more pre-competitive exercises that we are involved in or aware of. We will start by reviewing the business rationale that underlies the approach. Then, we will review the current trends in setting up successful exchanges. To these, we will juxtapose the operational novelty of our design. Next, we will briefly survey the building blocks of the architecture and finally discuss some exploitation particularities of such a service.