The Greening of Montana
The World of E-Commerce
Business to Business
From Bench to Business
Rocky Mountain Global
The RAVE of the future
Caroline Lupfer Kurtz
If Montanas share were only one one-hundredth of 1 percent, that would be $250 million annually to the states economy, he says. Just think what that would mean.
To help Montana businesses take advantage of the coming revolution, Donovan has created RAVE, the Rocky Mountain Agile Virtual Enterprise Project. If his applications for start-up funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation are approved this fall, RAVE will begin to connect light and moderate manufacturers in Montana into business networks that can bid cooperatively on large projects beyond the scope of single small companies.
The idea behind RAVE is to let individual companies form virtual corporations for the duration of a particular project, sharing information across computer lines. The approach enables businesses to make more efficient use of their human and technical resources and get out of the business of providing services and into the business of providing solutions, Donovan says. He believes the upshot will be more business in the state and higher bottom lines.
Companies participating in RAVE have access to jobs posted on the Web by potential customers, including specifications, blueprints, budgets and scheduling information. Businesses that can contribute specific pieces of the project form a virtual enterprise a legally separate company from the parent companies and RAVE. The corporation does the work, the customer gets the product, and the corporation dissolves, Donovan explains.
These entities can last for a month or a year or even indefinitely, he says.
Only one other organization in the country is doing something similar. The AgileWeb in Pennsylvania has between 20 and 25 companies with 10 to 30 employees each in different manufacturing areas. In the last three years, Donovan says, they have seen sales increase more than 20 percent and their operating margins improve by the same amount. So far about 10 companies in Missoula, Ronan, Butte, Bozeman and Poplar have expressed interest in participating in RAVE.
One of the biggest challenges to creating such collaborative business networks is the management system needed to link the disparate partners. G5 Technologies in Cherry Hill, N.J., has developed a management system and software package called the Virtual Corporation Management System which provides the legal, financial and performance oversight all the necessary management aspects for collaborative businesses. RAVE would provide training in the use of VCMS software and help with the marketing of Montana enterprises.
Automobile makers and giant manufacturers such as United Technologies already have announced their commitment to moving their procurement processes onto the Web. Donovan hopes Montana can become at least a test site for supplying products this way. A top priority for RAVE over the next five years will be to connect companies throughout the state and region, making Montana a hub of e-commerce.
This is a unique opportunity for companies in Montana to become market leaders instead of market followers, he says. This is the way business is going to be done in the future. If youre not doing this, youre probably not in business.
For more information about RAVE and virtual corporations, contact Rick Donovan at (406) 496-4770.