Virtual Networked Enterprises

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Peter Fingar:

Ken Thompson's book, "The Networked Enterprise: Competing for the Future Through Virtual Enterprise Networks, reveals how business enterprises, supply chains, high-tech ventures, public sector organizations and nonprofits are turning to nature’s best designs to create agile, high performing teams. Thompson’s work is bolstered with examples from various countries, including Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland, America, Holland, and Germany. They include high performing banks, manufacturers, sports teams, engineering firms, aerospace companies, hospitals, nonprofits and more.

Here’s a quick taster to provide a sense of the essence of VENs:

Scenario #1:

A group of Swiss mechanical engineering companies found themselves under serious competition on price, from eastern European companies just over their border with Czechoslovakia. They responded by collaborating together to design, build and sell a completely new branded machine (Tetrapak manufacture) that sold beyond their expectations:

  • The Threat or Opportunity: Price pressure from low cost competitors.
  • The Result of the Collaboration: Moving up the value chain from components to solutions.

Scenario #2:

A number of Mexican engineering companies collaborated to create a shared brokerage facility, to enable them to go after work over the border in the U.S. market. They also organized themselves into clusters to start upgrading their skill base to meet the market requirements:

  • The Threat or Opportunity: Accessing a new and more sophisticated market.
  • The Result of the Collaboration: Creating a strong broker with presence, credibility, brand and

quality awareness of the target market, and a mechanism for upgrading member company skills.

Scenario #3:

A Cluster of U.S. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies offer a one-stop shop to their clients by capturing all the clients’ ICT-related needs during business development meetings, and posting the ones they cannot address themselves on a private Web site accessible only to the other members of the cluster.

  • The Threat or Opportunity: Offering customers a 1-stop shop. Opportunity to share resources

to balance supply and demand.

  • The Result of the Collaboration: Turning each of the companies into a potential broker for the

other companies, resulting in prime contractor fees and referral income." (

More Information

  1. Book by Ken Thompson: The Networked Enterprise; Competing for the Future Through Virtual Enterprise Networks”
  2. See also Peter Fingar's book: Dot Cloud