IT Through the Lens of the Business: Social Supply Chain

Social Supply Chain is one of the most vivid examples of the need for enterprise IT to develop double- and triple-deep skills to avoid disintermediation by the business and other service centers.

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Credit: University of Waterloo

What at first blush could be confused with the inventory of potential partners on dating sites has in fact becoming one of the most interesting convergences of social media, IT and the businesses in twenty-first century enterprises.

Social Supply Chain (SSC) has become one of the most vivid examples of the need for enterprise IT to develop double- and triple-deep skills to avoid disintermediation by the business and other service centers.

In this case, the coevolution of social media and supply chain have created a whole new suite of platforms that enable enterprises to leverage communications between customers and suppliers to determine instantaneous ebbs and flows of product demand using social listening and trending techniques.

While SSC isn't new, strategies for deploying the strategy are still in the embryonic stages. Not unlike the myriad of other "digital strategies" enterprises grapple with, IT and supply chain leadership admit that SSC can be a game changer. Unfortunately most are paralyzed by determining where to start, who leads the charge and how to measure ROI when they pull the trigger.

In a B2B study by IDG Research Services and Kemp Goldberg partners, "more than half (58 percent) of the participants were either totally unaware of how their primary supply chain providers are using social media or thought suppliers and vendors were not using social media to interact with customers."

According to the report, "88 percent of the respondents using Social Supply Chain strategies have reported savings in time of over 10 percent, and a 60 percent reporting of improved satisfaction among supply chain vendors and partners."

So what can CIO’s do beforehand to show their business brethren that they understand the trend and can drive SSC for competitive advantage?

  1. Engage directly with suppliers and vendors in advance to determine their social media intimacy level in a business context. SSC only works when partners are in "full duplex" social mode.
  1. Determine whom in enterprise IT has the skills to serve as an embedded strategic social media evangelist in much the same way the businesses embed shadow IT. This will serve you well with other social enterprise projects beyond supply chain.
  1. Become proficient in the science of enriched social content equating to enriched social data. Any social strategy requires religious facilitation to create data exhaust. Contrary to popular belief it does not happen organically!
  1. Determine whether your current CRM and/or social enterprise infrastructure have SSC and listening extensions that position them as "Conversation Relationship Management" rather than just an electronic rolodex and call report repository.
  1. Determine whether your organization has the passion and horsepower to implement a strategy that starts with small wins and grows from there.
  1. Only THEN go to your supply chain counterpart to discuss how your IT organization has the skills and insight to be a partner deploying the strategy.

Does your organization have any best (or worst) practices related to SSC deployments?

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