The end of the supply chain (retail) is probably the only place that makes any sense for any kind of social media activity. At least that's the common belief. What would a supplier, manufacturer, 3PL, or any other part of the supply chain hope to gain from a Facebook page, a Twitter stream, or even a Google+ account?
Business owners have been using analytics to analyze their business data for many years. The real question is, what do we do with that data? Up until recently, there really hasn't been much guidance when it comes to interpreting and utilizing that data to meet your business needs. However, in today's highly competitive supply chain it is more important than ever to know how to utilize those analytics to solve problems in your supply chain. Think about it: If you can't use that analytical data to solve real world problems for your business, what is the point of the analytics in the first place?
What are our collective perceptions of SaaS, Cloud computing, and Hosted solutions. Of course we are mainly interested in supply chain solutions, but the definitions appliy to any application. If you're not completely certain, here is a primmer on the major differences and some discussion of the advantages of each. This falls far short of a full detailed explanation, but the basic concepts are accurate.
I've harped on the use of big data in the supply chain a few times already. In fact, historically one of the issues with the supply chain in general and EDI specifically is the amount of data generated by the plethora of transactions moving between trading partners. And as the demands for visibility increase so does the number and complexity of the documents.
Moving EDI data around the globe is old hat to most of the folks reading this ec-bp newsletter. Managing the connections and translations can get complex and picky when it comes to the details of the files and the changes that need to be incorporated into translators to make processes flow properly. For most EDI practitioners, their roles are fairly well defined and fit well with established concepts. But as mobile devices take over I think the line between what is EDI and what is associated with end user interaction is changing.
It wasn’t long ago that Apple was lauded for it’s finesse in managing its supply chain. Getting its bazillions of iPhones from China to the US and everywhere else required some groundbreaking advances and a lot of tight controls. Those lessons have gone mainstream as the world took notice and of the company’s strategies and success. And partly because of that expansion, the supply chain now extends to areas as unexpected as social media.
EDI is a significant source of big data. Of course that's no shock to anyone dealing with data storage or a VAN bill, but when you consider the volume of transactions and the number or companies involved, it would seem that there is a wealth of data in those transactions. The data now covers (depending on the trading partners) every aspect of the order process, from initial P.O. to final payment, with plenty of status updates along the way. So, what can be learned from all the data? It turns out that when looked at as an aggregate and put through the right analytical processes, there's plenty to be learned - and predicted.
I was considering writing an article about which company will be most disruptive to supply chains over the next few years, when lo and behold what pulls into my driveway but an Amazon-branded panel truck delivering a drill I ordered a couple days ago. Is that fate or what? At the very top of my list in the ‘Disrupter Hall of Fame’ would undoubtedly be Amazon, and their recent moves in logistics represent yet another supply chain area that ought to be preparing itself for disruption from this ecommerce giant.
Your supply chain is controlled by data. As that data flows between your company an your trading partners it tells a story. For most companies that story is the current state of events. It reflects the orders, shipments, product inventories, and even work in process. Once the current status has passed the data can largely be considered to have served its purpose. But there’s a lot more to be gained from looking at that data as well as the facts about the data (its metadata) that may help expand the reach and effectiveness of your supply chain activities.
There are plenty of social networks beyond Facebook. Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, and Pinterest have made themselves useful but haven’t been able to gain the traction of Facebook. But Facebook is gaining a reputation as ‘grandpa’s’ network as it becomes almost a public utility. The younger population that was responsible for popularizing the site is moving to newer systems like Snapchat, Kik Messenger, oOVoo, WhatsApp, Vine, Tinder, and others that specialize in fast paced interactions.