Recommendation. Small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) should keep abreast of customer expectations regarding on-line responsiveness and use e-business service providers to assist them in creating and operating low-cost Web sites for displaying products, accepting orders, and answering frequently asked questions. SMEs without an on-line presence may find themselves at a strong competitive disadvantage.

Recommendation. Although the highest levels of communication capabilities can provide incredible competitive power, they are too complex and costly for most small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs). These technologies should be monitored closely, however, because their costs and ease of implementation are improving dramatically. Internet technologies can provide many of these capabilities today at far lower cost, and SMEs should take advantage of these easy-to-use technologies.

Recommendation. Despite significant media coverage of the capabilities of business management systems, small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should evaluate, but generally defer, purchasing enterprise resource planning and supply chain integration software until prices come down, these systems are easier to install and use, and the benefits of specific systems have been more thoroughly validated.

Recommendation. Regardless of the level of integration, senior management in small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should take the lead in using Internet technologies within their companies. They should closely monitor changes in information technology and invest now in basic capabilities, plan for future investments to support their competitive position, and study how and when to integrate their systems with those of other supply chain participants. Senior management should define data requirements and closely manage the implementation of appropriate data management and electronic communication capabilities.

Recommendation. Despite the increasing importance and glamour of Internet-based technologies, small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should not ignore up-to-date manufacturing and process technologies. They remain essential for success.

Recommendation. As supply chain integration requirements and the need for new technologies increase the financial requirements imposed on small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises, they should

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