Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

TrustCoM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 001945
Funded under: FP6-IST
Country: Spain

A virtual culture built on trust

Today's business climate is demanding and fast-paced. Companies rely on technology for a competitive edge. The Trustcom researchers looked into the adoption of entirely new business models as yet another solution to improve their position in the market.
A virtual culture built on trust
We are clearly heading towards the era of e-business. E-transactions have already laid the ground for electronic commerce and their scope in terms of applications is constantly growing. And as new opportunities arise, the way of conducting business is changing too.

Faced with the rapidly changing customer demands and the challenges a competitive market presents, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) choose to share expertise and resources to survive the battle. Thanks to information technology such alliances are not solely formed between companies in their own neighbourhood.

Unlike traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies, virtual organisations (VOs) which span national borders are being built. During the life-time of these dynamic alliances, old partners may leave while new partners are joining - all according to the business needs at the moment.

Over the past years numerous projects and studies have been carried out with the aim of establishing the technology and best practices to support these on-demand businesses. This effort is visible in Europe through funded programmes supporting various projects in this area.

A case in point was Trustcom funded under the Sixth Framework Programme. This project looked into a number of barriers hindering the migration of SMEs to empowered alliances, but focused on a gap in the management of risks.

The established way of minimising risks and building trust is through service-level agreements (SLAs) between partners. Besides the obligations and the quality of service (QoS) promised to a client, an important element of these contracts is the penalties implicated in case of non-compliance.

For negotiating SLAs in a semi-automated way, Trustcom developed a generic framework of web services. This service-oriented architecture (SOA) can run on a virtual, shared infrastructure, using physical resources spread all over the world to monitor their fulfilment in real time.

It was designed to make business information such as internal business processes transparent and within reach. It has security and privacy implications as well - trust is essential for any VO to work.

That is why the Trustcom framework offers partners the choice to share only the data they need, not more. Furthermore, grounded in the experience and expertise of lawyers, business and software developers, criteria were established to help identify partners that fail to fulfill their obligations.

However, much more needs to be done before the technology is mature enough to be deployed on a wide scale. Legal issues also have to be ironed out, if companies are to take full advantage of the benefits promised - especially as most legislation today covers paper contracts, not digital ones.

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