Case 2 and Case 3 the LKAB extranet from the buyers perspective

For each of the buying side case studies, SM provided specific names of those individuals he thought were relevant to start talking to, as they were identified as the main users of the LKAB extranet within the respective buying organizations. In each case, SM provided someone in an active purchasing role, as well as someone in a more technical non-purchasing role. In both cases, this could be seen as providing a perspective on the use of the extranet from someone in a pre-purchase position and someone in a post-purchase position. At SSAB in Oxelosund, Sweden (case 2), the purchaser of raw materials, who negotiated the orders with LKAB and saw to it that LKAB delivered what they agreed to, was interviewed, along with another person more focused on post-purchase issues, namely the person in charge of raw material planning. The buying case at Rautaruukku in Finland (case 3) included the purchasing manager (pre-purchase) and the production manager (post-purchase).

As was presented in analyzing the seller case data, analysis of the buyer side interviews also supports the idea that there is not only the value taken out of the LKAB extranet by buyers, but there is also the value they put in to it. In terms of the value they take from using the extranet, the primary value identified in both cases was time saved, which seems to be among their most important reasons for using the extranet. In both buying side case studies, saving time makes their work more efficient. Efficient for them implies a proper use of resources such as time, which also implies money and energy (i.e. work), as they are using such company resources to obtain and use the information they take out of the extranet. However, efficiency is only half the equation. They must also have the right kind of information, and this they feel they are getting when it comes to the IT applications made available by the extranet. Part of the right information comes from the information being more dynamic in nature. Examples of more dynamic data included being able to review a contract signed for a specific order with LKAB, being able to obtain information about the ore itself, as well as the logistics behind the actual shipment, including the ability to change vessels to get the order delivered faster or to avoid delays. Furthermore, in both cases, old data that used to be saved on their own computers or placed in paper form in an archive somewhere on their office shelves was now permanently available on the extranet, a service that was greatly appreciated. This implies that the extranet is also effective. This mix of increased efficiency (saved time, money, energy,

Tim Foster etc.) plus being effective (i.e. getting the right information in the right way) is perhaps where true buyer side value in B2B extranets resides.

One interesting finding across both cases was that the pre-purchase (i.e. both purchasing managers at each company) were more positive regarding the extranet, either in terms of specific features they liked and/or in being more likely to use it. The post-purchase ("technical") buying team members seemed more negative towards its use: Either they used it less or found aspects they simply did not like. Some of this is based not only on preferring the "old way" of receiving information (i.e. over the telephone or via fax), but also in terms of the effort it took to obtain the information they needed. As one post-purchase buying team user of the extranet explained, the first IT efforts by LKAB were not extranet based, but instead relied upon the use of e-mail. Via e-mail, information about the ore and its shipment was sent regularly, meaning the person on the buying side got the information without having to request it or look for it once they received it. This meant they had to use only one click to open the e-mail before the data was in front of them. With the extranet, e-mail is used now only as a "warning" device that new information is available (click number one), followed by the need to log-on to their specific extranet site (which meant a second click plus filling in username and password info), followed by going to that part of the extranet where the shipping info they might be interested in resides (clicks three and possibly more). One suggestion was that a link within the e-mail being sent allows them to utilize an auto log-on to the extranet that takes them directly to specific types of information. The e-mail, in that sense was a "menu" of information that allowed, by one-click access, an auto log-on to the extranet and a route directly to that information they clicked within the e-mail.

Yet value output (what the buyers take out of the extranet) was only half of it. In terms of value input, what buyers in this setting put into the extranet includes providing information and making known their extranet habits. These buyers are providing LKAB the potential to become more proactive in meeting their needs and solving their problems as customers, which in turn makes LKAB more efficient (use of resources) and effective (giving the customer what they want, sometimes before they realize they even need it). This can come in the form of eventually being able to have access to offline value being delivered online in the form of information about the results of tests on the experimental blasting furnace or getting the customer used to leaving more information in the "remarks" section, be it a suggestion, complaint, observation, or even a compliment. None of those interviewed in either buying side case study regularly used the "remarks" section of the LKAB extranet, hindering LKAB from not only getting the information, but using it to identify patterns of problems across all of its relationships, which would allow them to become more proactive. In the end, the use of the extranet by the buyers resulted in more satisfied customers through the value added services provided by the efficiency and effectiveness of the information obtained.

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