As the number of companies committed to eCommerce continues to grow, momentum is building toward a substantial shift in the way companies do business. According to a new Report from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), the Net will give rise to a new market structure, “eBusiness networks,” in which firms will form relationships quickly, share information broadly, and create value by making assets fully available online. To succeed in this setting, companies will focus on their key strengths, actively plugging in partners to fill the gaps.

“Companies have transplanted business models to the Net to get a piece of the eCommerce pie, but the Net isn’t just a new channel — it’s a different environment with different natural laws,” said David Truog, research director at Forrester. “In the face of those deep differences, firms that adapt will thrive by participating in eBusiness networks.”

Companies currently expend valuable resources building partnerships and synchronizing disparate processes and incompatible systems. But as Net-centric technologies evolve to enable rapid, low-cost, business-to-business connections, these partnerships will be brokered in real time and will be rich with information about services, capabilities, and prices. As a result, complex negotiations will yield to software that automatically drafts agreements. Business processes that span manufacturer, distributor, and retailer will be shared in eBusiness networks.

Beyond processes, interdependent firms in eBusiness networks will share information widely to give partners the data they need to act quickly and in concert. Market data will reach connected firms within mere moments. And with new information flowing continually, competitive advantage will shift to the companies that manage to find the patterns in the data and to share and act on them fast.

Evolved firms will also expose their key assets, like distribution capacity and product-design documents, to attract smart partners and innovate faster. eBusiness networks will reward companies that focus their resources on their most productive partners. Firms that reach out across networks to offer best-in-class services will become more nimble — outpacing vertically integrated competitors.

To prepare for this new environment, companies need to purify their business models to hone in on a specialized role in an eBusiness network. To thrive, they will cultivate the ability to “hyperpartner” — the new competence required to form and disband partnerships efficiently.

“The winners in eBusiness networks will be companies that relentlessly focus on what they do best and become virtuosos of cooperation,” added Truog. “Nobody is even close to measuring up to this standard today.”

For the “eBusiness Networks” Report, Forrester interviewed senior executives from advanced eCommerce players and thought leaders from a variety of technology vendors and professional services firms.