One of the most debated consequences regarding the increased availability and use
of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially since the early
1990s, have been their impact on economic growth. Generally speaking, ICT can
serve to reduce transaction costs at all levels of a commercial transaction. With the
emergence and spread of the Internet in the developed world, it was expected that
it would change the way that companies in developing countries—big and small—
would transact, connecting them to international markets, reducing costs and
improving competitiveness, propelling growth and development. There are various
types of ICT-based applications, which can be grouped under the generic term
‘‘e-marketplace’’ including auctions, trade leads, e-retail and direct buyer/seller
links. However, this generalization could imply that all applications support
on-line buying and selling, and that transactions are actually completed on-line.
Today, e-marketplaces have a significant role to play in business and continue to
be a vibrant research topic and they are surely the most common e-business
application within the manufacturing industry. At the same time globalization is
pushing manufacturing companies toward a more distributed production approach.
Indeed, corporate manufacturing firms are spreading their production all over the
world in order to stay close to the customers, while medium manufacturing firms
organize themselves in networks in order to scale their production to a global level.
This tendency is putting a lot of stress on production planning. Indeed, the more
distributed production facilities are, the more difficult and complex production
planning becomes. An evolution of the consolidated use of this virtual interaction
among customers and suppliers is the increasing of the e-marketplaces profitability
by an integration of production planning, negotiation and coalition support tools.
Production planning tools allow to create a link between commercialization and
production activities, supplying a better service for customer, negotiation tools
allow to make transactions taking into account both buyers and sellers’ goals and,
finally, coalition represents the proposed course of action for small and medium
suppliers not able to fully respond to the customer requests.