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Business-to-business, or “B2B”, is a term commonly used to describe electronic commerce transactions between businesses, as opposed to that between businesses and other groups, such as business and individual consumers (B2C) or business and public administration (B2G).

It is a term that originated and is almost exclusively used in electronic commerce and usually takes the form of automated processes between trading partners.

The volume of B2B transactions is much higher volumes than (B2C) applications. One reason for this is the greater adoption of electronic commerce technologies by businesses, relative to adoption by consumers. Also, in a typical supply chain there will be many B2B transactions, but only one B2C transaction at the end of the supply chain, as the completed product is retailed to the end customer.

For example, a company that makes chicken feed would sell it to a chicken farm, which is another company, rather than directly to consumers. An example of a B2C transaction would be a consumer buying grain-fed chickens at a grocery store. B2B can also encompass marketing activities between businesses, and not just the final transactions that result from marketing, though B2B can be used to identify sales transactions between businesses (also sometimes referred to as 'Institutional Sales'). For example, a company selling photocopiers would likely be a B2B sales organization, as opposed to a B2C sales organization.

The term 'Business to Business' can also mean all transactions made in an industry value chain 'before' the finished product is sold to the end-consumer for final consumption.

What this picture shows is that for every two companies we need a point to point bidirectional link. Company D has not installed the system, or if it has, is no interested in using it to do business with companies A, B or C. Anyway it is connected to internet so there may be some other kind of operations that D could do with the rest of companies that is not contemplated in our system.

General Architecture

We don't want to provide strict rules of how the computer systems of a company should be organized because every company is a different world on its own. Anyway, some sort of general rules should do no harm.

The architecture should be organized in a multi-tier fashion. When we say multi-tier in fact we mean that at least it should be 3-tier, but it could be more so as to be able to accommodate to the complexity of the company's computer infrastructure.

The first tier, the client layer, is installed in the computer systems of the rest of the companies. If a company has a client tier is only to operate with it's business partners The client is the same for all the companies in our system as it would be very complex for a company to have all the clients of every company it makes business with. This client will provide a number of features that make it more customizable and business-specific than a web browser, but as general as to accommodate the needs of different companies (that nonetheless operate in the same business sector).

The third tier is in fact the existing software that constitutes the business back-end of the company. This software is already able to support the business operations that the company does with other companies.

The middle tier should be a kind of driver that allows the first tier, which is company independent to do business transactions with the back-end of the company which is different for each company. This tier also takes care of the security (which will be explained further in this text), the transactions management and granting and controlling permissions.

We could also think about a fourth tier sitting between the middle-tier and the company's business back-end that takes care of the business rules. The number of tiers depends upon the complexity of the company and its computer systems and business back-end.

E-business will usually involve using the internet at some point. Features of the internet are:

• It is a network of networks. To gain access locally, an organisation needs an internet service provider

• High-speed communications вЂ" broadband/ADSL/DSL

• A website consists of pages of information that are linked to each other and sometimes to external sites.

• URLs. Uniform Resource Locators, which are unique addresses for websites

• A web browser. This is the software used to navigate through the internet

• A search engine, such as Google, which allows websites to be searched for material relevant to the search terms entered

• email

• Web servers. The computers on which the web-pages are stored for access by others.

Advantages of E-Business Applications:

Catalog flexibility and Online fast updating

• Direct "link" capabilities to content information and visual displays already existing on other client web site. You can update your E-Catalog anytime, whether it's adding new products, or adjusting prices, without the expense and time of a traditional print catalog.

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