Social Supply Chain – Technology or Innovation First

cregan    February 23, 2015

Organization NameTEVA Canada Limited TEVA Canada Limited

Industry:  Pharmaceutical

Name of contact: Doug Sommerville, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TEVA Canada Limited

Web References:  TEVA Canada Limited; TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries Limited; Fronetics Strategic Advisers; Adelante SCM; Chainlink Research

Description on how Social Media is used for Business Performance:

I recently attended a presentation about the evolution of ski racing in the last 30 years.  The presentation was given by Dan Hadley a former Canadian National ski team member and a current ski racing coach.  It was amazing to see how ski technology improvements have provided opportunities for innovation in ski clothing, ski lengths and shape, improved racing results and techniques. How does this have anything to do with Social Supply Chain?  Dan posed a question to the audience – “Is today’s ski racing methods a result of changes in ski equipment technology or innovation?”  A similar question was posed to me by Russ Bawks, Supply Chain Practitioner with Schenker about the evolution of Supply Chain Management to Social Supply Chain.  Russ asked me “What I meant by Social Supply Chain?”  Was I referring to the use of social media technology or social media as an innovative communications method?”

Supply Chain Technology or Innovation First:

I realize Social Media can impact supply chain management in a variety of different ways including social media technology and/or the innovation of social media for business communications and collaboration.  From Russ’ point of view, technology connectivity and information sharing are critical to successful supply chain management.  A limited number of companies are using Social Media in supply chain management; however, most companies are thinking about or experimenting with it in limited ways.  I believe businesses are wondering how supply chain management improvements will be accomplished.  Will these improvements come from Social Media technology or will they be a result of innovative use of Social Media.

Supply Chain:

The purpose of supply chain management is to deliver product and/or material to the customer through a network of different participants.  The diagram (below) demonstrates the complexity of supply chain networks with information being critical and central to successful supply chain management.


As the supply chain business processes are expanded, the integrated supply chain work flow and information requirements becomes more complex requiring more decision making information as demonstrated in this second diagram.

Supply Chain Management


Social Supply Chain:

Social Media is being implemented by different business groups while supply chain management’s adoption appears to be lagging.  Adrian Gonalez, founder and president of Adelante SCM highlights in “The Social Side of Supply Chain Management” 30% of the respondent’s identified their company blocks access to social media sites.  Adrian also reports 75% of the respondents feel Social Media will impact their supply chain processes; however, executives appear to be stuck on the word “Social” and their interpretation of “Social”.

In this Dreamforce YouTube video “Introducing the Social Supply Chain” , Linda Chuan of defines Social Supply Chain as “the convergence of structured data from execution and planning systems and unstructured data/collaboration used in real time decision making” followed by a panel discussion about Social Supply Chain with Linda as the moderator.


Blogs and articles are identifying opportunities for integrating Social Media into supply chain management.  However, Fronetics Strategic Advisers found supply chain executives lack the knowledge and understanding of Social Media technology’s roles in supply chain processes.  Consequently, executives are unclear as to social media’s business value and if there is a business case for this technology.  Fronetics concludes there are more risks to companies in not participating in social media than the risks of social media participation.

With all the reported opportunities, there are relatively few examples of social media implementation within the supply chain industry.  For example the presentation “The Collaborative Enterprise: The Social Supply Chain” provides ideas on how to successfully leverage social networks to drive results throughout your supply chain processes.


While companies are wondering about the use of Social Media, Supply Chain Operating Network vendors like Descartes, GT nexus, Elernica, E2open, and others are including community collaboration tools in their technology platforms.  Will future business improvements and effectiveness be a result of this new technology or will the changes come from innovative use of Social Media?


TEVA Pharmaceutical – Social Media Implementation

TEV Pharmaceuticals/RatioPharm has implemented social media in their supply chain processes.  Tony Martins, former VP of Supply chain at TEVA Pharmaceutical was able to achieve benefits using social media to enhance his company’s supply chain management processes.  Computerworld’s Sharon Gaudin describes the Social Media journey lead by Tony and the results he and his team achieved.  Mark Schaefer also created a case study describing Tony’s achievement at TEVA and how he institutionalized a private Enterprise Social Network resulting in:

  • Raising service levels (fulfillment) from 80% to 95%;
  • Manufacturing cycle time reduced by more than 30%; and
  • Supplier lead times dropped by 25%.


Chainlink Research report “New Era of Business Cooperation – The Descartes Community” describes two types of communities – Public and Private.  The TEVA Pharmaceutical is an example of an Enterprise Social Network (private) but there are also public Social Networks (such as Linked IN) where supply chain professionals can share knowledge; forge new relationship and collaborate.  A. T. Kearney PAS November 21 2014 podcast entitled “Social Media for Procurement” with Tania Seary, CEO Procurious describes the benefits procurement professionals derive from using public social media platforms.



  1. Executive support and focus is necessary for success.
  2. The first initiative should be a small project with specific goals and outcomes.
  3. The project must focus on business issues with the right people participating.
  4. Social media initiatives should evolve to cross department collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  5. Business results must to be periodically measured and the results shared with stakeholders so they can see the impact and take the necessary action.


Submitted by: Charlie Regan

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