Supply Chain Executives Perceive Social Media Too Narrowly

I came across this article on supply chain executives and how social media is perceived by them. It well-describes some of the experiences and feedback we encounter, investigating how transparency and collaboration –through the integration of social media- can help supply chains to innovate, to be resilient.

The majority of the supply chain executives who participated in the sessions of the The Logistics & Supply Chain Forum,  believe that social media will transform supply chain processes (for the better) in ways we can’t imagine today.

However, and this is not just limited to the supply chain, the writer elaborates:

For most executives, and the public in general, the term “social media” basically equates to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other publicly accessible sites. But the ecosystem of “social networking” solutions also includes “Enterprise 2.0” applications (aka “Enterprise Social Software”) that companies can deploy internally to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees and different functional groups, and with suppliers, customers, and other external partners in a private, secure environment.

There’s a need for a continuous learning curve in educating the supply chain (and business in general) in what social media are, the scope and applications of them. Partially the discrepancy is sustained by the supply side of social media (agencies, consultancies etc), focussing on B2C, specific functions such as Marketing, PR and comms and specific networks. As the review of the Forum continues :

[…]In short, this online retailer is already using social media effectively to drive continuous improvement and innovation inside the company, but the executive didn’t see it until now because his definition of social media was limited to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

In other words, many executives get caught up in the terminology (blogs, wikis, tweets, discussion forums, RSS, Enterprise 2.0, etc.) and view social media as more work to do, more information they need to sift through in addition to emails and voicemails. Think beyond Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Focus on the work, not the words.

The perception of social media to be additional work is an incorrect approach. Social technologies offer better, faster and cheaper ways to support a vision or solve a business problem. If they don’t add value, you have to reconsider if integrating them is needed. “Build it, offer it and they will come” is an ineffective approach, technology-centric instead of business-centric.

Getting started

Advice for social media integration in the supply chain is to start small, with(in) one department, if successes are made, expand, launch and iterate beyond organizational boundaries.

Image credit: SCM-Operations

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