Virtual Partnerships in Support of Electronic Commerce: the Case of TCIS

Even the smallest companies can seem much larger through the virtual looking glass of the Internet. Dorothy Leidner, INSEAD Associate Professor of Information Systems, presents the case of Traitment Coopératif et Intégration de Systèmes (TCIS), a young, small, Paris-based firm that sells software products to about 700 businesses, half of which are outside France. She outlines the major obstacles facing a firm engaging in global business-to-business electronic commerce and offers some insights as to how a small firm can effectively manoeuvre in the globalized digital marketplace. The case illustrates the need for the development and maintenance of meaningful virtual partnerships to handle the various phases of the marketing cycle.

Discussion of this case should catalyze your ideas, as you discover how a small firm can go global via E-commerce. The main topics for debate include how a firm might handle after-sales support and whether virtual growth can be achieved without the need for physical growth. The case also asks how image can be manipulated, and how one goes about discovering customer information in the virtual environment.

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