Tag Archives: Supply Chain

Most people consider social media to be platforms for dialogue between themselves and their closest friends and favourite social influencers. Of course, marketers and organizations use social media to promote products and brands, communicate with customers, and gather data from their target audience. It’s not surprising that discussions involving the application of social medias rarely focus on supply chain and distribution implications; however, this function within a business and between businesses can benefit almost infinitely from a strong network of social media and communication platforms. Many companies are beginning to look to other areas of their business to either cut costs or earn more income, and their supply chain has become an increasingly popular source for such activity. One company capitalizing on this newfound value centre is SDVI, a resource management company that helps media and entertainment companies organize their data and information supply chain to improve the agility and efficiency of their media infrastructures (Market Wired, 2016).  

In 2014 a global movement started #whomademyclothes. Fashion Revolution  is a not for profit Community Interest Company based out of the U.K.. Since 2014 it has held an annual social media campaign #whomademyclothes in April, on the anniversary of the devastating 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in which 1,134 people were killed. The social media campaign calls on clothing brands to take responsibility and demonstrate transparency for their supply chain management. Social media has enabled a global conversation on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for socially conscious consumers who are actively seeking out sustainable fashion and the demand for transparency. Eileen Fisher Inc. is a clothing brand that is managing their supply chain.

It’s the wold’s most valuable sports brand. And it all began when founder Phil Knight decided to start selling track shoes out of the trunk of his car in 1976. Today, Nike is a global athletic shoe and apparel juggernaut, with a brand value of nearly $15 billion U.S. But a string of public controversies in the 1990s and early 2000s over the working conditions at some of Nike’s factories around the world threatened to derail close to 20 years of brand building in one fell swoop. Allegations of child labour, poor wages and dangerous working conditions at various locations in its global supply chain triggered widespread protests and seriously threatened Nike’s very existence. And while the company initially denied any claims of wrongdoing, further damaging its reputation, it eventually responded with humility and transparency. Today, Nike makes its supply chain practices transparent and available online and uses social media in various forms to actively listen to and engage with its stakeholders in order to influence where and how its products are designed and manufactured – all critical elements of effective, and modern, supply chain management.

The management of the flow of goods and services is what is referred to as supply chain management. According to Margaret Rouse at TechTarget, Supply Chain Management is defined as “Supply chain management (SCM) is the oversight of materials, information, and finances as they move in a process from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. Supply chain management involves coordinating and integrating these flows both within and among companies.” Supply chain management occurs in both product companies and service industries.

“The future is always virtual and some things that may seem imminent or inevitable never actually happen. Fortunately, our ability to survive the future is not predicated on our capacity for prediction, although, and on those much more rare occasions, something remarkable does come staring the future deep in the eyes and challenging everything that it seems to promise.”     Luke Robert Mason, Ethereal Summit, May 19, 2017, Brooklin, NY The purpose of this case study is to look at the future impact of social media on organizations. The premise is an expected progression of social media use integration with other integrated information technology–based systems will increase organizational performance. It is a popular opinion that despite enormous potential, most organizations have failed to capitalize on inter-stakeholder collaboration because the elusive but profound emotional factor, being able to trust partners without fear of exploitation, is an almost impossible obstacle to overcome in most existing business-to-business transactions today. The premise then is that the trust factor is likely to continue to be a hurdle in the future. The premise is that through social media integration, collaboration on improvements to product and process performance are possible at all levels and offer the opportunity for substantial benefits. The above are the premises behind the examination of the future impact of social media on organizations. Let’s first be clear: what social media integration platforms are being put forth to change the nature of knowledge work and management inside organizations? In 2016, products like Jive, IBM Connections, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Quad, Microsoft Yammer, Google Apps for Work, Facebook at Work, Facebook Messenger, etc. were indeed being used to improve performance and foster innovation. In 2017, Slack for chat, JIRA for task and issue tracking, CONFLUENCE for wiki, and GOOGLE DOCS for document editing and management are being integrated rapidly in transformative technology businesses. Social software integration will become a vital tool for transforming virtually every part of business operations, from product development to human resources, marketing, customer service and sales – in a sense becoming the new intra-operating system for the twenty-first century organization. But what if it is already recognized there are clear limitations on today’s suite of tools? And what about that small matter of trust – just what are the economic issues (apart from the ethical ones) about the importance of trust in business? Let’s define trust as the expectation the other party will… Read more »

Few condiments hold a candle to this savory-sweet, palate-pleasing treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Ketchup, your pairings are endless: eggs, bacon, bologna, hot dogs, fries, burgers, sausages, onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks…alright maybe not endless. That’s getting pretty close to an exhaustive list, as far as any self-respecting person can enumerate. Yes, this powerful condiment possesses an innate ability to make-or-break your summer BBQ. And it recently showed off some of its unique power to rally social media supporters in a very surprising way. Canadian Connoisseurs Speak Up In March 2016, Loblaws decided to pull French’s ketchup from its shelves without warning, inciting a viral backlash demanding Loblaws re-list the item. The sense of importance associated with this particular product most likely stems from its local origins. French’s ketchup is made with tomatoes grown here in Canada; Leamington, Ontario to be geographically precise. Thus it’s a source of national pride, of small-town Canadian jobs and, ultimately, of significance extending well beyond something squeezed from a bottle. This high level of engagement in the supply chain management process led Globe and Mail food columnist Sylvan Charlebois to declare in his Ketchup Wars opinion piece that “the politics of food distribution are alive and well in Canada”. Many speculated that unfair competitive practices among vendors may have had something to do with Loblaws’ decision to de-list the product. Finding evidence to support this theory is challenging. However, the ketchup story illustrates how the complexities of food retailing are increasingly intermingling with unexpected social media uprisings.  

Recognizing social media is so much more then Twitter, Facebook or an online forum, I took my question to Professor Peter Carr of the University of Waterloo to understand what social media really is defined as; he noted: “There isn’t a generally accepted definition and opinions probably include narrow, which would be restricted to popular public tools (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and broader, including any form of online communications (email, Yammer, SharePoint etc.). I use the broader approach, any online communication between two or more people could be included.” Understanding Carr’s definition on social media, we can really look into how might social media fit into companies – and in what realms? Specifically for the topic of this post, how does social media fit into supply chain? From course material in my Social Media for Business Performance at the University of Waterloo, it is discussed that there are a variety applications for social media in the supply chain, but there are a few I really want to focus on that I find make an interesting case study: visibility, stakeholders and purchasing.

Supply chain management (SCM) relies on, at its core, people talking to people.  Working with vendors, coordinating shipments and carriers, buying stock, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels, forecasting what end users may be looking to purchase in the future – every step of the way involves communication between one party and another. “Social networking is not about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of managing and executing supply chain processes.”  “What is needed [in a dynamic business environment] is a supply chain of rapid response…Many people who work in the materials business [and] talk about supply chains and the speed of supply chains [have historically] thought about systems talking to systems across enterprises and about processes. But in reality, the speed of the chain is not really related to the systems used by the various companies—it’s all about people, and people talking to people”

If MIT Professor Edward Lorenz hadn’t gone for a cup of coffee when he did fifty-six years ago, his 1972 seminal paper, ”Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” [1] may not have been written, Robert Redford may not have played a wise gambler in the 1990’s movie “Havanna”, Ashton Kutcher may not have travelled back in time in his 2004 movie, “The Butterfly Effect” to fix his childhood, and perhaps, least of all, chaos theory [2] may not have been discovered. For those unfamiliar with Professor Lorenz’s story, on that day in 1961, Lorenz was repeating a simulation he’d run earlier — but this time he rounded off one variable, from 0.506127 to 0.506, of the experiment’s 12 variables, representing things like temperature and wind speed to simulate weather predictability. To his surprise, when he got back after coffee, that tiny, tiny alteration (a 0.000127 difference) drastically transformed the whole pattern his program produced, over two months of simulated weather. “It was philosophically very shocking,” [3]  says Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell and author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos. “Determinism” [4] was equated with predictability before Lorenz. After Lorenz, we came to see that determinism might give you short-term predictability, but in the long run, things could be unpredictable. That’s what we associate with the word ‘chaos.’ ” How does this lesson, that a minute change in variables can have an enormous impact in outcome, affect business product launches today? Let’s look at a recent failed social media effort to access millenials’ wallets. On the surface, it was a winner: the 2014 non-profit industry celebrated a huge success with its major international ALS fundraising movement, “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. The program went viral, raised over $115 million in donations, and attracted 2.5 million new donors [5]. Naturally, the ALS non-profits ran the same program again in 2015, but to their surprise, raised only $500,000, or 0.00434783% of 2014’s donations. So what was the minute variable that had changed in just over a year to cause the failed fundraising? In Philip Haid’s article, The Ice Bucket Challenge Part 2: What we can learn from why it didn’t work [6], he suggests the ALS non-profits forgot to consider the “why” variable in the program’s 2015 success. “Most people don’t interact with charities on a daily basis the way they do with their favorite brands, so it isn’t easy… Read more »

At FlashStock, operational efficiency is key to the growth and success of the company. Our core product is custom images and videos taken by our network of global contributors which is delivered to brands around the world through our machine learning technology. Even with this automation, we need to ensure that the customer is properly managed throughout the customer lifecycle. Having better insight into the process, through the collection and use of data, allows FlashStock to scale resources as needed for all client project sizes, effectively manage the pipeline of business, and ensure the proper management of those resources for optimal productivity. Some say having a well-oiled supply chain is a key competitive advantage. FlashStock views the supply chain as key for tracking and measuring that we are going above and beyond for our clients delivering what we promised.

According to Wikipedia a supply chain is defined as a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. So what is the supply chain in the sport of synchronized swimming?  Specifically for the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club.

In today’s highly competitive market, organizations must strategize to create avenues of innovation, efficiency, and increased productivity to hold on to their competitive advantage. An area with room for growth for many firms is more effective supply chain management. With a vast array of social media tools available, organizations can improve operations in several ways including but not limited to increased visibility, communication, coordination, and reduced costs. “Although a vast majority of people reference only the most popular social networks – Facebook,  Twitter and LinkedIn when thinking of social media, the true social media experience is much larger for companies. They can engage users through smart phone applications, RFID, IoT, Big Data, business social media (for sharing information between partner groups) in order to help information spread much more quickly.” Ranjan Sinha, Logistics and Supply Chain Management Professional

Clearwater was established in 1976 by two very ambitious Nova Scotians; John Risley and Colin MacDonald. Risley and MacDonald started Clearwater as a local Lobster Pound, named for the cove in which they operated, with only a pick up truck and a vision. Over time, their vision grew from its humble beginnings in Hubbards, NS at ‘Clearwater Cove’. Clearwater grew to become Clearwater Seafoods Inc.; one of the world’s leading seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses in Canada. Since its establishment, Clearwater has been a company committed to sustainability through science-based management. As company CEO, Ian Smith notes: “Since Clearwater’s humble beginnings, we’ve continued to invest in science and stewardship of the resource to sustain and grow the wild seafood products we harvest. Sustainable seafood harvesting has always been at the core of Clearwater’s business, and will continue to drive our success moving forward.” Clearwater now exports product to over 40 countries and has over 15 offices and processing facilities worldwide. A crucial component to this continued business growth is the way in which Clearwater manages their supply chain; from ‘ocean to plate’.

Supply chain, a process by which we extract raw materials somewhere in the world and convert it to some form of a manufacturing process and deliver it to customers, this is a classic definitaion of supply chain and as most of us know everything is leaning towards digital, and supply chain does not exempt from this. Salesforce introduced a digital and cloud-based platform for sharing information and allowing all stakeholders to visually monitor and view different aspects of the process from manufacturing standpoint to billing and invoicing customers. In classic definition of “Supply chain” the input in the process is the raw material (in possession of a supplier) whereas in cloud industry or any professional services sector the vital substance is the human capital, and sales force is pioneer delivering a magnificent  and innovative service to High tech, telecom, and so many financial service organizations across the world to monitor and track the chain of supply from supplier to the consumer. Salesforce journey is all about improving access to information through streamlining and automating information delivery and simplifying business process where we are referring to as supply chain process.

The 2016-2017 school year began with a wealth of negative media coverage about school bus providers in the GTA. Children were repeatedly late for school when buses ran behind schedule, and in some cases children were stranded without transportation altogether. Indeed, we are still experiencing these issues (but much less frequently) on our school bus route, 8 weeks later. I’ve lost count of the number of temporary drivers who have covered our bus route (until the bus company fills the role with a permanent driver). Because of this, I’ve decided to take a closer look at supply chain opportunities in the school bus industry. I suspect social media can offer viable solutions to some of the issues we’re seeing. First Student Inc. is the largest school transportation provider in North America. First Student completes six million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, and charter services for 1,300 school district contracts.1

If you’re an average social media user like me, you can probably attest to receiving regular requests to like a new page, join a group, or follow a new business. In fact, I receive far more business related requests then I do friend requests (imagine a sad emoji here). It seems the fear for businesses to enter the world of social media is dissipating and instead of being out of the ordinary for having a social media presence, businesses that don’t have these networking tools in place are starting to be the minority. For companies just starting out in the last few years, this is a huge advantage. New companies need not worry about the headaches of converting old methods of advertising, collaboration and supply chain management. Instead, new companies are able to jump right into social media and utilize it to their full advantage. Melissa Laking, owner/operator of A la King Culinary Creations in Beamsville, Ontario did just that and has not only grown a loyal fan base that saw her recently nominated for the Hamilton Spectator Reader’s Choice Awards for catering, but has also used Facebook and Instagram to develop and source out suppliers.

Hear ye, hear ye! It was in 1670 that Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II, and friends acquired the Royal Charter which granted the lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” It was the start of the Hudson’s Bay Company – the oldest continuous running company in North America. It was once the largest landowner in the world owning 15% of North America. For the first century of operation, natives travelled by canoe to trade animal skins for manufactured items. The supply chain was basic relative to today. By the end of 19th century people had cash and not fur to trade, fashion tastes were changing too and so did the HBC supply chain. They have outlived many of their major competitors and have battled social and economic change. But, social media has put the pressure on many retailers including HBC to change.

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of health care products, Johnson & Johnson’s complex supply chain processes are discussed in detail on their web site. Information about sourcing ingredients, creating products, distribution and consumption of products is demonstrated through info-graphics, web links to other organizations and direct links to many forms of social media. It is interesting to look at one product with essentially one main ingredient to really focus on one supply chain process and its reciprocal relationship with social media. From quieting squeaky floor boards, applying temporary tattoos, removing oil stains to wearing patent leather, baby powder has so many uses other than the obvious. Classic Baby Powder made with talc is one of Johnson & Johnson’s oldest products. This is a product that has gone through a lot of controversy in the media and in social media since it was part of most of our daily diapering routines a generation ago. Baby powder is just one example of a Johnson & Johnson product that has seen huge modifications in product supply chain in recent years as a result of research, media exposure and changes in consumer trends. In turn, Johnson & Johnson is using social media to its advantage in three main areas of the baby powder supply chain: ingredient research/sourcing, product innovation/trends and consumer relations/consumption.

Amazon is a corporate behemoth that dominates e-commerce and e-fulfillment. What started out as an online bookstore is now a complex online ecosystem that involves thousands of moving parts, including employees, suppliers, and shippers. As Amazon expands and grows, the need to innovate and streamline their supply chain becomes paramount. One of the ways that Amazon innovates their supply chain management is via technology like mobile apps and social media. Their increasingly automated systems alleviate costs, and improve overall speed and productivity.

If you live in Ontario, have eaten in a food court, local restaurant or pub or ordered room service then chances are Flanagan Foodservice helped make your meal possible. Although they didn’t help prepare or serve the food, they did make sure that it arrived on time, fresh and ready to consume through their vast distribution network. From small operations to iconic food chains with multiple locations, Flanagan services over 6000 customers across Ontario. Let’s take a small step back for a moment to discuss this network before we get into how Flanagan is taking an innovative approach at social media and supply chain management.

Most of us who went to McDonald’s as kids remember our first taste of their delicious French fries and that special sauce packed Big Mac. We also likely remember as we became adults, just how bad their coffee was (as was the coffee at many other restaurants). Well, McDonald’s listened to its customers over the years and introduced a new coffee and most recently a new McCafe restaurant concept. A winner for customers, the McDonald’s business and for social media.

As a loyal fan, I have been using iPhones for 5 years, never thinking about to look at other brands. I fell in love with Apple products right after I received my first iPhone in 2010 as a gift from my husband. It was also in the same year, I learned about Foxconn (Apple’s most important manufacturing supplier) Suicide on Sina Weibo (China equivalent of Facebook). A spate of worker suicides highlighted the conditions at its supply chain led to the worst public relations scandal in Apple’s history. In 2010, from January to June, 18 Foxconn employees attempted suicide with 14 deaths at the Foxconn City industrial park in Shenzhen, China. Their ages were between17 and 25. The way they chose to end their lives were jumping from their factory dorms. The company was pilloried in the media over allegations of poor working conditions and bad management, including long hours, crowed dorms, involuntary labor, record falsifications, improper disposal of hazardous waste, under-age worker. Another brand name “Apple” was being mentioned in every article and sometimes was put on the headline purposefully to drive attention. Foxconn was described as “Apple’s sweatshop” in massive social media posts. No matter that Apple wasn’t the only company that hired Foxconn to build its products, success made it a target.

Utilizing social media and technology is an excellent way to ensure solid communication throughout the supply chain. Without communication, the chance of an error (or a perceived error) greatly increases. Such is the case with Purolator. Think about it—customers are entrusting their goods with the company, so it’s only right that the customer remains in-the-loop throughout the entire process. As you can see in the video below, Purolator is well-aware of just how important it is to simplify the supply chain process for customers.  

To infinity and beyond. Why the desert, and not outer space could be the next great frontier for a company looking to push it’s supply chain into HYPERDRIVE!

Okay a show of hands… who doesn’t like chocolate? Anybody??? Didn’t think so. Perhaps one of the most loved foods in the world, chocolate comes in so many forms it’s virtually impossible to find someone that doesn’t like chocolate in at least one form. I don’t actually have any data to back that up, just my own theory that you’d have an easier time finding a unicorn or a Sasquatch. Perhaps I’m letting my own love of chocolate cloud my judgment but I can’t be that far off considering that the average Canadian consumes 5.5 kilograms or roughly 12 pounds of chocolate each year. Ferrero SpA is the fourth largest manufacturer of chocolate and confectionery products in the world, behind only Mars, Mondelēz International (makers of Cadbury, Oreo and many other brands) and Nestlé. The Italian manufacturer is probably most recognized as the makers of the famous Ferrero Rocher chocolates but are also responsible for bringing us Tic Tac, Kinder and Nutella. Ferrero is responsible for using about one quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply and have almost single-highhandedly caused the hazelnut industry to soar.