In the future, social technologies will play a key role in supply chain management. Social networking does not necessarily mean socializing but making people-to-people communication and collaboration more efficient.
Now that’s a statement that really puts the finger on the pulse. ‘Social networking’ is trending on B2B level, yet many proponents of this trend have never truly experienced its full business potential.
What’s in a name? A lot, apparently.
First things first: there is a difference between social networks and social technologies. If you think the implementation of social tech in your supply chain means you are going to be Instagramming or Tweeting with all your stakeholders all day, you may want to reconsider that idea. Allow us to elaborate.
Social technology is the underlying technology that allows people to interact socially in order to create, enhance and exchange content. Social networks are already very present in our personal lives, however, professionally there’s a fundamental lack of sector-specific social networks that make use of the very same, rather brilliantly designed social technology behind it.
Social technologies can change the game for supply chain and here’s why
1. Overall communication with your stakeholders: when issue management becomes anger management
Delayed shipments, supply shortages, unexpected demand… that old tune we all know by heart. To solve problem ‘x’ you first need to call the person ‘y’...oh but wait, that’s only after you’ve figured out what number to call, and then you’ll most probably still have to exercise a fair amount of patience before finding out how the issue with that shipment can be resolved or who’s responsible for fixing it. With so many stakeholders involved in your supply chain all that emailing and calling back-and-forth just won’t cut it anymore. Imagine being able to resolve these types of issues faster and more effectively through one single channel.
In the past, collaboration has been viewed as a separate workflow. When collaboration is not embedded in business processes, they can only deliver limited value. The dominant paradigm in the future will be on integration of collaboration with business processes at every stage and both with internal and external stakeholders.
Collaboration relies on sharing information in the most efficient way possible. Social technologies will revolutionise the way information in Supply Chain is accessed, shared and acted upon.
2. The increased visibility that could’ve saved the Titanic
While technology advances have created a wealth of data, the problem is how to manage this information and separate the meaningful from the trivial. “Drinking from a firehose” is a common way to express many companies’ attempts to take in a high volume of data all at once. In the future, data visualisation enhancements will change the way we understand and share data.
Social tech allows organizations to share real-time insights about topics such as service performance and forecasting, as well as any potential challenges arising within them. Your supply chain becomes more agile in responding to new information, trends and issues, contacting the right people immediately via build-in chat, and rapidly getting to the bottom of it. And using one platform to help you visualize your data will open a world of possibilities.
Some retailers are leading the field in data-driven decision-making, generating more accurate supply and shipping decisions, and deploying inventory in a more intelligent way. Amazon uses data systems for choosing the warehouse closest to the vendor (or the customer) in order to drop shipping costs by an average of 10 to 40%. More traditional brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to find and implement the right data strategy, that would help them avoid crashing into any icebergs.
Home Depot is taking a different approach to leverage the power of social networking. They developed a site called ‘The Warehouse’, that enables internal communication and knowledge transfer of innovative ideas and best practices amongst store and DC associates. This network made it easier for Home Depot to analyze and formulate solutions for obstacles they only became aware of through better communication and collaboration.
3. Power to the People
In the end, it’s all about people. By empowering your people and giving them visibility throughout the entire supply chain, you increase the amount of insight they’ll have into the process as a whole instead of keeping them off into their separate corners. It enables them to work together more efficiently and make better every-day decisions.
People can also make a valuable contribution to you data strategy by correcting mistakes made during the data cleansing process and by helping the machine learning algorithms to progress faster.
Great For Business
Social tech can help with the aforementioned struggles, but most of all, it helps your overall company perform better and in a more efficient way. The ripple effect of using social technology to improve your supply chain management can expand outwardly across your organization.
And the benefits of social tech can also expand to stakeholders and even customers, which is great for business, whichever way you look at it.
So there you go, 3 out of 99 reasons as to why social tech is the new rock star technology everyone in supply chain should be putting their bets on!