At the heart of supply chain is information; such that its efficiency and effectiveness depends on a company’s ability to create, process, and communicate information from both ends of the chain ensuring that the right things get to the right places, at the right time.2 However, information can often be distorted, with fluctuations increasing as the supply chain moves from customers, ordering products and services, to manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials, compromising a company’s ability to manage information.3 In this respect, the Internet, as an enabling technology with the ability to automate the supply chain, integrate business activities, supply real-time data, and reduce costs presents a powerful resource to improve SCM.
One of the biggest challenges companies are facing insofar as SCM initiatives are concerned is streamlining the supply chain to reduce cycle time without having to maintain high inventory levels. On one hand, these goals can often be conflicting such it will be difficult to provide on-time delivery of products without maintaining high inventory levels; while on the other hand, such operations can be difficult to maintain given high holding costs, warehouse and production-line storage costs, and insurance costs among others.4 In order to resolve this, companies have traditionally resorted to forecasting customer demand and matching inventory levels to these forecasts, as much as possible. However, given the uncertainties and fluctuations in the supply chain, this can often lead to inefficient operations and customer dissatisfaction. In this respect, Internet-enabled SCM strategies, by automating the supply chain and linking the supply chain activities presents an effective and efficient way to reduce cycle times, reduce inventory levels, and reduce costs.
Looking at the example of Dell, and its Command and Control Model, one can illustrate how an