A workshop held by EPSRC and DTI in February 2000 (See the report: Systems Integration 2005 - issues for industry and academe) investigated the issues of Systems Integration as applied to the Supply Chain with a particular focus on SMEs. The aim was to seek an understanding of the way in which the present trends will evolve, so as to identify appropriate actions for industry, academics, and government, in order that UK industry might best profit from present and forthcoming changes in technology and business environment. This was set against the background of lean and focussed supply chains, complex inter-organisational relationships and the need for flexibility to meet current and future competition.

The report identified that 'Although research should seek deep understanding - theory, even - this needs to be grounded in the realities of the manufacturing world'. This, of course, needs to take account of the disparities of organisational complexities, sophistication and maturities. There is also a discrepancy between the technology capabilities of large and small companies and their capability to take on board new working practices. The nature of research is to decompose complex situations into small focussed analysis. However, this does not address the problem of Systems Integration in the round.

Identified topics
A selection of the topics recommended within the report for future research is detailed below:

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'Problem domain'

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'Capability-deployment disconnects'

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