Supply-Chain Integration Via The 'Net Ranks Low, Study Says

By John S. McClenahen There may be more hype than reality to all those stories about manufacturers using the Internet to integrate their supply chains. It ranks rather low on manufacturers' e-commerce priorities, well behind improving customer satisfaction and boosting sales and revenues, reveals a study from the National Assn. of Manufacturers (NAM), Washington, and Ernst & Young, a global business services firm. Whether they're large or small firms, manufacturers' top e-business priority is customer service, with 46% of those surveyed saying it was "very important" to them. Increase sales and revenues also ranked high, with 41% saying it was "very important" to them. In contrast, only about 10% said e-commerce was "very important" to them for expanding supplier reach. "Significant risks and uncertainties remain, including the lack of clear standards and the simple barrier of the enormous level of effort and expanse to integrate with existing systems," the survey finds. One cautionary note: The data were collected before the events of Sept. 11. And neither NAM nor Ernst & Young will speculate on how the terrorist attacks on the U.S. may have changed companies' e-commerce priorities.

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