Value creation in a digital world

Information technology, and more specifically the internet, provides myriad tools for creating value in industrial, or in the wider context, business-to-business (B2B) settings (Vlosky et al., 2000; Berthon et al., 2003). In fact, we have entered an "era of value maximization" when it comes to the web in such B2B settings (Berthon et al., 2003, p. 560). Yet the concept of adding value has received little attention in the business marketing literature (Payne and Holt, 2001; Ulaga, 2001; Beverland and Lockshin, 2003), and even less when it pertains to creating value on (or using) the internet (Vlosky and Fontenot, 1999; Arnott and Bridgewater, 2002). Parasuraman and Zinkhan (2002) add that the need for more internet research from a B2B perspective is imperative, and that this technological revolution has transformed lives and the way we do business. Yet, according to Deeter-Schmelz and Kennedy (2001), no empirical study since the

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 20/4/5 (2005) 245-252

e Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0885-8624] [DOI 10.1108/08858620510603927]

advent of e-commerce has examined the influence of the internet as an industrial communication tool. This study aims to make a contribution by filling in the gap that exists within the research area due to a lack of empirical evidence.

Value is in part derived from technology, information, knowledge, and social interaction (Baker et al., 1998), all of which are key components of the internet. However, it must also be recognized that doing business in a digital world implies not losing site of the importance of coordinating online strategies with the ones used more traditionally offline by organizations (Porter, 2001). Sellers in B2B settings are embracing technology-mediated sales communication tools such as web sites to reach out to buyers (MacDonald and Smith, 2004). Sharma (2002) explains that if companies do not capture the value that emerging technologies such as the internet provide, then value will actually begin to migrate from their companies. To overcome this risk, Sharma suggests that firms develop an information platform that encompasses all of the functions of a firm and its partners (i.e. the network of organization including but not limited to suppliers, partners, and customers). The value of such an approach is in information exchange leading to a reduction in exchange friction. This will then allow for an increase in both the efficiency and effectiveness for firms in such a network of business relationships.

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