Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supply Chain and Social Media

In today’s social era, it is difficult to imagine the supply chain industry staying alienated from social media. A further interesting fact is that “91 percent of working adults who are linked in any manner to any company's supply chain use social media regularly” (Supply Chain Management – Infosys Blogs). This provides a huge opportunity to investigate the effects if these employees start using social media for work purposes at their workplace. Nowadays, the increase in collaboration between supply chain members and social media is proving to be a key enabler for the same. “A study has revealed that employees are able to interact more effectively with their suppliers and attain information regarding the latest trends and technologies through the use of social media” (Supply Chain Management – Infosys Blogs). Currently, around 40% of the players in the supply chain industry use social media to connect with their vendors and the vendors also leverage the social media to expand their reach to the customers.

With an increase in the consumerization of technologies and a radical shift towards BYOT (Bring your own technology) trends, there is a compelling need for social media capabilities integrated to a firm’s supply chain for effective communication, improved efficiency and enhanced productivity.  There are numerous use-cases that support the usage of social media internally in an organization. For example, an internal social media application can help the purchasing team collaborate more effectively with the payables team.  

Over the next couple of years, we’re probably going to see an explosion in the use of social media to strengthen supply chain operations. With the increasing proliferation of a plethora of Unified Communication & Collaboration tools like Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft Office 365, Yammer, Jive, etc. , organizations are looking at integration of these collaboration tools with social media to enable the key players (suppliers, retailers, end customers) in the supply chain value chain to be connected. The key for businesses, however, is to choose the optimal blend of social media applications that will answer specific business goals. 

The question remains that can social media disrupt and change the structure of the supply chain industry and will the heavy-weights of the industry like Walmart, L.L. Bean serve as early adopters making significant changes to their already successful supply chain model?


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