Collaboration in Virtual Business Networks
Most common businesses are small and majority of them are home based businesses. The small businesses have different common fields ranging from the traditional consumer business to technological trading. Mostly, these small businesses have been responsible for development of local or regional economies only. With the advent of e-commerce and virtual business networks, these small businesses have the opportunity to involve and succeed in the global economy.
The virtual business networks enable the small business to access vital Research and Development knowledge which they cannot afford otherwise. This latest technology information helps the small businesses to effectively develop and supply products at low cost though the use of virtual collaboration technology. The small and medium sized businesses cannot afford to have the features of a large organisation such as marketing, investment planning, research and development because of financial restrictions.
However, the Virtual network connects the small businesses into small organizational networks. These organizational networks provide the small business the capabilities and advantages of global enterprises such as marketing, advertisement, sales, huge customer reach, new product development and innovation, and in some cases financial assistance and technological resources.
The advent of the internet and communication technologies has even enabled the small business to take part in global virtual networks based on their business domain. Through the virtual business networks, the small business improves their productivity, quality, innovative skills, and flexibility that contribute to the overall business growth. The small businesses also avoid the risk of high financial investments and market instabilities by joining a virtual business network.
Joining a Virtual Business Network
There are several opportunities for joining a virtual business networking. Small businesses in the same region can join together as an entity and then join the global business world on the internet. In this case, businesses having the expertise and skills in production, marketing, sales, financials can join to form a group and collectively work together and offer products and services to the market beyond what the individual businesses could offer by themselves.
The virtual business networking opportunities can be generated by joining the several communities that are available on the internet. Also participating in the business meets, trade shows and though referrals and contacts, small business can seek opportunities to join the big business groups.
The small businesses can also get opportunities to join flag ship companies or market leaders specific to their business domain. On the other hand, if small companies merge together and form a group they will have the capability to compete in high cost projects and bidding which they cannot do independently. Before joining a virtual business network there are few important factors to be considered.
Value of the Virtual Business Network: By joining a renowned and reputed virtual business network, small business can benefit a lot. So the value and reputation of the virtual business network needs to be considered before joining the network.
Vision and goal of the Virtual Business Network: The vision and goal of the virtual business network plays an important role in deciding the effectiveness of joining the network. This has to match the objectives of the small business in order to be mutually beneficial.
Critical factors in Virtual Business Networks
There are several critical factors which the small business should consider before stepping into the virtual business networks. These critical factors determine the effectiveness of a businesses performance and success in the virtual business network.
Technology Support: When small businesses join a virtual business network and start collaborating with the business, they need a web-based platform. The web based platform can be accessed from their companies or even on the move allowing them to communicate securely and handle all aspects of the business. Small companies and businesses can also avail the support and services of software firms and communication firms that provide hosting services, pay-per-use, and small business software solutions.
Responsibility and Accountability: Management in a multi business network can be very difficult aspect. Learning and understanding the responsibility and accountability is very vital before commencing work in a virtual network. This is also the deciding factor in winning big contracts from major organizations.
Collaborative Working Policy: A virtual business network can be seen as a group of businesses acting like a virtual team all connected through communication networks. Therefore, how well the team integrates collectively depends on the vision, goals and capabilities of the individual businesses. This virtual team has to decide upon certain norms to work together, take important decisions, handle problematic issues, and share vital knowledge and information through virtual collaboration technology. These collaborative working policies will grow trust among the member companies and businesses and aid in achieving the overall goal effectively.
Roles in Collaboration: There are three distinct roles in a collaborative virtual business network. Each of these roles is equally important from the point of view of achieving success together. The first kind of role is that of the Architect. The architect can be considered as the administrator of the virtual business network. He has the overall view of the network companies and their capabilities.
The architect determines the other roles of the businesses in the virtual business network. He also determines what the virtual business network can take up and the limits of business capabilities. The Architect takes up the responsibility for searching for more companies to complete the virtual supply chains which the virtual business network needs to accomplish its tasks.
The next role is that of the Broker. The broker finds opportunities and potential customer for the virtual business network and then based on the customer requirements helps Architect to make a work execution plan. The broker is also the link for the virtual business network to other networks and customers.
The third and most important role is that of the Coach. The coach is responsible for building relationship among the businesses in the virtual business network. He deals with the members of different companies in order to develop trust, define the responsibility and accountability hierarchy, solve problematic issues, and address issues which improve the cohesiveness of the team.