A customer wants to order 10,000 shoes from a shoe manufacturer so logs on to its CRM system over the internet.
The system checks the customer against an existing database to see if the customer has any specific requirements or outstanding debts, for example.
The order goes automatically on to the SCM system which checks whether there is enough raw material in the factory to make 10,000 shoes. If there isn’t, the SCM system, or possibly the ERP system, orders more raw supplies. Then the ERP system processes the order and prepares the shipping papers. It connects to the SCM system again, which alerts the logistics partners to make sure the shoes will be delivered to the right place at the right time. Then the information is linked back to the financial part of the ERP system to send out confirmation of delivery and invoices.
In an ideal world, this would all be automatic. For all of this to work over the internet, the software vendors must integrate their systems off-line, so that users tapping in to the systems from the web can get an integrated view of data, probably through an XML-based internet transaction server. The end user doesn’t see any of this; he or she will just see the transactions happening on screen through a web portal.