This article is the second part of a two part series discussing the importance of Collaboration in the Supply Chain.
Discover part one, Collaboration along the Supply Chain. Why is it important?
Where is my mobile phone?
Close to 70 percent of the world’s total population use a mobile phone in April 2021, representing 5.27 billion users. (source: GSMA Intelligence) The total number of unique mobile users around the world grew by 97 million in the past 12 months. Only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. Thus, without disputing the importance of dental hygiene it highlights the importance of the role mobile technology will have in enterprise systems.
Modern mobile devices are much more than a touch screen. Mobile devices bring more of the human senses into play. Modern devices offer speakers and microphones, GPS & navigation and vibrational alerts. But also Bluetooth and near-field communications. cameras that can scan QR and barcodes. Then add multilingual voice and handwriting recognition, and new security options such as fingerprint scanning. Finally, a mobile device is no longer about being mobile; it is about being relevant.
For an enterprise software solutions provider, transitioning from a desktop solution to a mobile solution is not about a choice of technology deployment. It is about re-engineering your entire product offering to address a completely different market segment.
In the collaborative supply chain, enterprise technology must leverage this platform to survive. In supply chain this means that the planner can log in securely with their fingerprint; they can receive notifications triaged by severity using audible alerts, vibrations, or messages; they can use the camera to scan a barcode to get an immediate package identification and location update.
Social collaborative supply chain platforms
Social media use continues to grow too (+13.7% over the past 12 months), with global users reaching 4.33 billion in April 2021 and 1.4 million new users every day (source: datareportal). One would think that connecting people shouldn’t be too difficult in this social media-enabled world. We are able to connect daily with potentially thousands of people in our personal lives. But how does one make the transition from a collaborative Facebook chat to mitigating a supply chain risk or exploiting a demand opportunity across a multi-enterprise supply chain? To be able to leverage the connected supply chain, the stakeholders and planning processes must be orchestrated across the supply chain.
Not unlike social media, it needs to be delivered on the platform that stakeholders are already using. Unless you are very influential, it is unlikely that the stakeholders are going to adopt an alternative communication medium solely to collaborate with you. Then, from a technology perspective, this presents as a solution that embeds social media-type interactions at the core of the planning solution.
From firefighting to value-add.
Enabling real-time communications with internal and external stakeholders at the point of decision making will provide a huge value to planners who will have access to a new range of potential planning actions not otherwise possible. In the future, however much of the repetitive effort to resolve the near horizon planning exceptions will be expended automatically using machine learning and predictive techniques. This will redefine the typical planning role.
Supply chain planners of the future will be analytical deal makers and brokers. In other words, their collaborative reach will transcend the contemporary definition of a supply chain. The focus of supply chain planners and by extension supply chain technology will be to analyse business scenarios and execute business transformation initiatives.
The people are changing
Workplace demographics are playing a role in this transition. Generation Z born between 1990 and the early 2000’s, are now progressing into management roles that influence technology selection. They have been exposed to an unprecedented advancement of technology during their lives. This generation no longer clicks, they swipe. This is the generation of of everything in real-time. This is the generation of perpetual connectivity. Thus, they see no reason why the next generation digital supply chain planning experience should be any different. Their user experience must be intuitive, intelligent, responsive, social, and “always-on”.
The Future of Collaboration
Also, connected supply chains will proliferate as more connected devices, systems, and people share supply chain data. Eventually, there will be one or more digital ecosystems that transcend legal entities and countries. Such an ecosystem will be essential for Outside-In supply chains to connect to sources of supply and demand. This will promote more coordination and cooperation amongst the supply chain actors.
Also, in 2012 McKinsey coined the term organizational “dark matter”. At the time, the phrase related to valuable stakeholder intelligence that was stored in emails or other difficult to access mediums. Such dark matter added intelligence and insight into decision making but was often ignored due to its inaccessibility. Fast forward to 2021 and the volumes and quality of dark matter has grown with the proliferation of electronic communication. Finally, Supply Chain social collaboration offers the real possibility to shine sunlight on this valuable asset and leverage it for smart faster fact-based decision making.