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SBE 430 Week 3 Case Study


Elemica: Cooperation, Collaboration, and Community It may seem unusual to refer to an entire industry as a “community,” a word reserved typically for collections of people who more or less know one another. Trade associations are one example of an industrial community. Trade associations form in an effort to pursue the interests of all members in the community although usually they do not include customers in the community. Elemica is a B2B industry trading hub aiming to revolutionize the entire supply chain of the chemical, tire and rubber, energy, and selected manufacturing industries worldwide by creating a “community of suppliers, customers, and trade partners” who have mutual interests. Elemica’s purpose is not just to foster cooperation on a one-to-one inter-firm basis, or just to foster collaboration on multi-firm projects, but instead to lift all boats on an industry tide by making all firms more efficient. Elemica is one of the few survivors of the early B2B e-commerce years. In 2011, Elemica connects over 3,000 companies to its network and clears over $70 billion in transactions a year. Elemica is a global e-commerce company founded by 22 leading corporations in the chemical industry (including oil and industrial gases) to provide cloud-based order management and supply chain applications and services. Elemica enables one-stop shopping through a single platform so companies can buy and sell chemicals to one another through their own ERP systems, or using a Web alternative. It also to one another through their own ERP systems, or using a Web alternative. It also helps companies automate all of their business processes, creating efficiencies and economies of scale that lead to an improved bottom line. How does Elemica achieve community among a diverse, global collection of firms where firms are often both customers and vendors to one another? The really unusual aspect of Elemica is that the “social glue” bringing members of the community together is the ability to link together the ERP systems of participating companies. This “super platform” permits the companies to communicate with one another electronically, and to conduct transactions, handle logistics, and keep the books. Elemica is a commerce platform that has effectively standardized industry business transactions for all network members regardless of the type of ERP system they have, and it’s leveled the playing field for trade partners who are less technically sophisticated. It’s a neutral platform that facilitates millions of transactions for industry suppliers, customers, and third-party providers. In this sense, Elemica is one of the most sophisticated technology platforms in the B2B space. One of the largest investments for a company is its ERP system. Despite these investments, intercompany relationships—the backbone of their supply chain—are often left to outdated and unreliable processes. These shortcomings cost billions in lost productivity, revenue, and profit. Elemica’s eCommerce platform changes that by helping its clients leverage their ERP investment by making it work for transactions to external trade partners. Elemica’s ERP-to-ERP connectivity enables companies to link their internal IT systems through a neutral platform so that information is moved into each company’s database while maintaining confidentiality and security. The chemical and oil industries were among the first users of ERP systems (referred to in the early years as “manufacturing resource planning systems”). These large-scale systems were developed by single firms in order to rationalize and control the manufacturing process. They achieved this objective by identifying the outputs, inputs, and processes involved in manufacturing and automating key elements including inventory control and planning, process control, warehousing and storage, and shipping/logisti


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