Expert details social supply chain management strategies


describe the imageThe future of supply chain management and B2B integration may lie in social networking systems. Connecting employees through clearly-delineated online portals rather than a patchwork of older communications represents a new and promising way of driving supply chain visibility. Productivity could rise with a specialized online portal handling interaction.

Concerned that adoption rates have not been high enough for social features in the supply sector, Logistics Viewpoints analyst Adrian Gonzalez recently described the roadblocks that still remain between supply chain managers and social systems and the steps that employees can take to make progress.

Perception change

One reason that social supply chain adoption has not reached its potential, Gonzalez wrote, is the overarching perception that "social" technology is for consumers, rather than professionals. He described the general perception of social media as a conduit through which users can socialize, naming Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as the services conjured by the phrase "social media." Gonzalez considers the social name a problem, weighted with unwanted meaning, he wrote. However, he remained unconvinced that a useful synonym has emerged.

Another nagging issue highlighted by Gonzalez is general unwillingness among employees to change the way work is performed. The value of a new technology can be overshadowed by the perceived inconvenience of changing the way things are done. He prescribed change management training or retraining, stating that, in this case, the transition to social media is very much like the changes that have come before.

Despite the problems he described, Gonzalez reported himself certain that social media will soon become a deeply-ingrained and natural part of the supply chain process. He advocated strategies to speed the transition such as the addition of contextualized prompts and general efforts to make business social networks and more supply chain-centric. He framed the problem as a struggle to transform companies currently observing the systems' progress into adopters.

Widespread use

The addition of social connections to professional organizations has become a global trend, with USA Today recently devoting a feature to the phenomenon. The changes wrought by social networking, according to the source, are different from those that accompany traditional IT deployments. While companies use online services to automate and increase the efficiency of their supply chain processes, and have since the late 1990s, USA Today found that social media is more concerned with taking employee creativity and focusing it.