The Lagging Adoption of Social Media in Supply Chain Management

David Murray    March 12, 2013

Social-Media-Marketing-Connect-1The massive impact of social media technology on the sales and marketing functions of most businesses is no longer debatable.  The further reach of social media into functions such as customer support and product development is also tangible and accelerating.  However the lack of adoption of social media in the area of supply chain management is very peculiar.  How could this powerful and blazing technology barely register with one of the most fundamental of enterprise functions: Supply Chain Management?

A research analysis discovered the following possible reasons:

Lack of intercompany trust – Social media puts your information ‘out there’ for all to see.  This is of course desired for information such as new product promotions, however perhaps not so when the shared info pertains to a complex value stream, which is often considered a confidential competitive advantage.

The name does not sound robust – The term “social media” simply does not sound like an industrial strength enterprise class toolset.  This perception, while perhaps unjust, is a real drag on adoption.

Change management – Human nature will often lead us to resist change.  This is especially true when dealing with mission-critical and time sensitive business elements like the supply chain.

Unclear business value – The value proposition is difficult to identify.  In fact, the same might be said on the customer facing side of the house as well, but while many businesses will place a bet without hard ROI to potentially boost revenue…the same is not usually the case with back-end operations.

With these constraints to adoption duly noted, it is still believed that social media could in fact play a valuable role in SCM.  The open communication platform would clearly be an enabler to faster interaction, problem solving, and innovation.  The trending topics can serve as a predictor to improve demand planning.  The real-time capabilities could serve as early warning to failed components in the supply chain, while the historical data amassed would provide an opportunity to avoid re-work and leverage past knowledge and solutions.   The impact of social media on SCM is clearly lagging, yet looms as an untapped opportunity for many enterprises.


References / Further Reading :

Harvard Business Review – Social Media’s Productivity Payoff

Supply Chain Nation – The Impact of Social Media on the Supply Chain

European Business Review – Developing Trust and Relationships in the Supply Chain 

Oxford Consulting – Expert Details Social Supply Chain Management Strategies

Logistics Viewpoints – Supply Chain Executives Define Social Media Too Narrowly