Guest Commentary: 6 Impacts of Social and Mobile on Supply Chain Management

You wake up in the morning and grab your smartphone. You notice you have 5 notifications from your network about important events pending. You quickly scan your news feed to see what conversations and key updates you missed during the night. A key topic catches your eye and you jump into a discussion with a group of people around the world. You accept an invitation from a pending request to connect. You see that a new location-aware app is available that looks very useful. In five minutes, you’re in sync with your connected global network of people, places, and things.

The scenario above describes using Facebook on a smartphone. But it also describes what is coming to enterprise software and supply chain management. Your supply chain will be social and mobile, and will work much like Facebook does today.

When Internet-based supply chain software arrived on the scene over a decade ago, only a small number of early adopters could see how software-as-a-service and a network of trading partner connectivity would become a competitive advantage over slow-moving and costly legacy installed software. A decade later, software-as-a-service has won the battle over enterprise software and its benefits are obvious.

Now, we’re heading into the social and mobile phase of technology change. And once again, we have naysayers who have never used Facebook and can’t envision how social tools will transform their business. True, it’s difficult to see how these types of tools would be useful if you’ve never used them. But one thing is certain – employees entering the workforce today have been raised on social and mobile and they will be the drivers of adoption.

So social and mobile are coming. Here are the 6 impacts of social and mobile that will be obvious a decade from now:

  • Social enables a network of people to connect and communicate in real-time to manage a supply chain. It’s people that manage a supply chain, and social provides the platform for all these people to connect in a single place.
  • Social will wrap a community of people around transactional workflow. The supply chain management systems of the past focused on transactions and processes. Social will combine community and communication with transaction management.
  • Social enables everyone to be on the same page. Email is not a good solution for managing a supply chain. The roles-based social news feed that is the core feature of Facebook will be the unified means for communication.
  • Mobile provides a constant connection to your operation. Your role in your supply chain will not be bounded by location or time of day – you can tap in at any moment from anywhere.
  • Mobile makes trading partner onboarding easier. Your suppliers and logistics service providers can simply use their smartphone to provide status updates or respond to issues. It’s super simple, easy and cost effective to adopt.
  • Higher levels of connectivity, communication and engagement from the community result in increased and accelerated information sharing and improved supply chain performance.

So, if you don’t already have a Facebook account, go sign up for one and download the app onto your smartphone. The future of supply chain management is right in front of you.

Travis Parsons is the CTO of Cloud Logistics, which allows users to manage in a single thread all social communications with each transaction, and to track shipments and order updates from their smartphone. Previously, Travis was Founder and CEO of Elogex, one of the first logistics software-as-a-service providers.

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