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Relationship networking is not new, rather it has been a fundamental part of business for centuries. It has morphed as business, customers, distribution, markets, suppliers and technology have evolved and changed. In the 1990s, Jack Welch, GE’s former chairman, had the vision of a “boundary-less” organization that would “knock down external walls, making suppliers and customers part of a single process,” as noted in his book, “Straight From the Gut”. From Wal-Mart and Cisco creating the “virtual enterprise” where the internal value chain is exposed to suppliers and customers, to Ameritrade and E-trade directly connecting customers to the financial markets as online, virtual companies, all these are examples of relationship networking helping to innovate their industries and change customer expectations.
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