Two weeks ago, I shared my key takeaways from a workshop I conducted on the role of social media in supply chain management (see “Supply Chain Executives Define Social Media Too Narrowly”). I made the case that supply chain executives need to think beyond Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and that they need to “focus on the work, not the words”–i.e., think through the work they need to get done, then determine how social media tools (especially internally-deployed ones) can help them achieve their objectives in a more productive and effective manner.
One of our readers, a logistics executive at a Fortune 500 company, shared his perspective on this topic via a comment. Here is an excerpt:
I think the issue is not so much how social media is used in “Logistics” [but] more how social media will be used in how people work day to day. As the Home Depot example [discussed in the posting] showed, it is at least as much about collaboration across internal, external, industry etc. as it is about advertising and marketing.
To be bold, I would say 10 years from now email is dead. We will work via Facebook and twitter type communications.
The idea that email is dying is shared by Thierry Breton, the Chief Executive at Atos SA. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal this past Monday (“The IT Boss Who Shuns Email”), Mr. Breton says, “If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.” The article provides some additional interesting details (all emphasis mine):
Soon [Mr. Breton’s] colleagues will have no choice but to agree with him: Atos is in the process of scrapping internal emails at work entirely. Within 18 months the French group’s staff will be using instant messaging and a Facebook-style interface to communicate.
Atos conducted research on its own business which showed that only 15% of internal emails were useful. “Emails are an instrument to shirk responsibility,” [Mr. Breton] says.
And yesterday, Manhattan Associates (an ARC client) announced Manhattan Scope Social, “an engagement framework that enables companies to connect social networking capabilities and supply chain solutions.” In a nutshell, the company has integrated social media tools (like Yammer) within its user interfaces and workflows, starting with its Labor Management solution “to enable collaboration between supervisors and associates including two-way feedback, recognition, praise and sharing of information to provide continuous operational improvement.” The video below provides an overview.
What I find most interesting about this announcement is not the technology, which relative to optimization applications is not rocket science, but the engagement framework and use cases Manhattan has developed. While supply chain executives might be attracted to the technology at first, it’s the conversation that follows — “How can we change and improve the way we currently work and collaborate using these tools?”– that matters the most. And helping clients think through this question and work through the change management issues involved is where, in my opinion, Manhattan Associates and its peers in the software industry can provide the most value to clients.
In the case of labor management, for example, it’s about helping clients determine if the current way of engaging with employees…
…is the most effective and efficient one, or if leveraging social media, mobile devices, and other tools is a better way forward. And then helping them with the transition.
Personally, I don’t think email will completely die, but its role and importance will diminish over time. What executives (and companies) need to recognize is that email is not always the right tool for the job. When it comes to employee engagement, for example, using email is like trying to use a hammer to drive in a screw — it just doesn’t work very well. Think of social media in this scenario as a power screwdriver — quick, efficient, and effective.
Are you still skeptical about the role of social media in supply chain management?
Post a comment and share your viewpoint.