12/16/2014

Is Your Supply Chain Social?

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A supply chain’s success is heavily dependent on the ability of different entities to collaborate effectively. Miscommunication can completely derail an order. Synchronized communication is one of the largest problems supply chain professionals face – fortunately technology can help. As technology advances so do the opportunities for industries to take advantage of improving their processes and increase productivity. Technology has transformed the way supply chain management professionals communicate and manage, especially through use of social technology.

Let’s take a real life holiday example of how social has changed our way of personal communicating and apply that to the supply chain. Years ago Christmas letter updates from family would take days in the mail. Upon arrival we would physically call other family with the updates we’ve received and translate them one at a time. It would take days for us to connect each other and receive your holiday cheer and a lot was lost in translation. Today Christmas letters are a thing of the past as families post their updates and photos online via social media for all to see in an instant and update collaboratively in real time.

Now let’s move to the business world and supply chain. Even an email thread could be drawn-out as more people are added into the conversation creating confusion and miss-understandings. Making even email seem outdated in the realm of social media where communication is instantaneous.

Companies are now leveraging social automation to reach their partners in order to improve performance. With the best technology, all those involved (factory, 3PLs, purchasers, suppliers, and carriers) in the supply chain can have anytime access and communicate in one place. Seamless visibility to global activity such as 24/7 exception notices enable response times which are faster than ever before, making supply chains more efficient.

Before supply chain professionals began leveraging social supply chain technology, delays in the supply chain meant days to resolve with multiple communication exchanges. Many times these delays would result in cost increases or lost sales. With the right technology, these issues can be addressed quicker and involved parties can collaborate in a common place. Traditional communication is enhanced with the ability to give you access to real-time information and take action on your results immediately. Reporting has improved with automated custom reports that are available in one place with capabilities to share with your colleagues in a click. International businesses no longer have to worry about time zones making it difficult to coordinate inventory moves. We are less dependent on others to give us updates or answer questions when milestones and POs are visible at any time. Issues that used to take weeks to fix can now be resolved in a couple of days. These innovations have truly streamlined the supply chain process.