The supply chain is, by definition, a set of companies or individuals that work together to create and deliver a product along its many processes from the supplier to the customer. Social media increases the potential for collaboration vastly through a plethora of network tools.” -Steve Nicholls
Traditionally, social media has been used for business-to-consumer (B2C) interaction and engagement, which occurs when B2C companies promote their brand and market their products to consumers. Moving forward, it is anticipated that social media will be more frequently used for supply chain management. Business-to-business (B2B) companies will use social media to enhance external communication and collaboration with not only customers, but also suppliers, service providers and other partners. It will also improve internal communications and collaboration between co-workers.
In the article, “Is Social Media in Supply Chain Management a Waste of Time,” Adrian Gonzalez states that there is “…vast potential for social media to enhance the way people up and down the supply chain communicate and collaborate with one another; improve the way companies discover and analyze real-time information to make smarter and faster business decisions; and enable new, more efficient supply chain processes.”
Joseph Mazel’s, “Social Media is in Your Supply Chain Future,” identifies three examples of companies who have incorporated social media in the management of their supply chain. One of the three examples, Home Depot, uses….”a social media site, the Warehouse, to accelerate internal communication and knowledge transfer of ideas and best practices impacting the business.”
Home Depot is not curious as to how they have survived as the top home improvement chain, Oxford Consulting’s “Focus on supply chain pays off for Home Depot” indicates “Analysts are crediting the supply chain improvements for the company’s continued success and stranglehold on the home improvement market above Lowe’s.”
While many companies have recognized the possible benefits of using social media to manage a supply chain, they are still on stand-by because they are unsure of where or how to start. Gonzalez revealed two issues contributing to the low adoption rate of social media and its application to the supply chain:
1. Executives define social media too narrowly.
2. Executives focus too much on the technology vs. focusing on the opportunities to improve business processes.
He suggests that most people’s concept of social media doesn’t extend far beyond Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. According to Gonzalez, we “tend to forget that the ecosystem of “social networking” solutions also includes “Enterprise 2.0” applications that companies can leverage for collaboration between employees, different functional groups, suppliers, customers and other external partners.”
An article by, Mark Perera, outlines the “Top Five Things You Need to Know about Social Media and the Supply Chain,” to give those starting out a frame of reference and list of tips. These tips include: Determine who will lead the programme and what you want to achieve, define your brand, be focused, and remember that you are not alone.
Lessons for Others:
-With social supply chain management, an opportunity exists to not only increase external communication and collaboration with customers, but also with suppliers, service providers and other partners. It can also improve internal communications and collaboration between co-workers.
-As the supply chain continues to grow more complex, with more suppliers and partners in more countries around the globe, collaboration, communication and more efficient processes become essential for success.
-Companies should think outside of the “social networking box” when considering and planning for the implementation of social supply chain management.
Steve Nicholls: Rethink ‘Social’ for Your Supply Chain
Adrian Gonzalez: Is Social Media in Supply Chain Management a Waste of Time
Joseph Mazel: Social Media is in Your Supply Chain Future
Oxford Consulting: Focus on supply chain pays off for Home Depot
David Weaver: 3 ways social media is impacting the supply chain
Submitted by: Nicole Schmidt – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.
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