As the social media craze only gains more momentum, one has to wonder the effects a well-managed social network can have on a business’ success. When I think of how a Twitter or Facebook account would help a company, I immediately think of marketing and penetrating to the end consumer. What better way to get into the heads of your customers than to bombard them with advertisements as they “like” a picture of their friend’s cat, dressed like a leprechaun? In reality, social media offers marketers the unparalleled opportunity to be relevant, and participate in an open environment where they and consumers are encouraged to share. An astute organization may gain the ability to infer consumer suggestions and reactions in real time. But how can this tool be leveraged to improve our supply processes?

To effectively answer this question, we must ask another: What factor contributes most heavily to an effectively managed Supply Chain? The most difficult aspect of a Supply Chain to control is the members themselves. Full cooperation and business transparency is often difficult to get from all parts of any organization, as the rallying call is often diluted across functional departments.

What social media offers to organizations is an avenue for collaboration, and a level of transparency that is non-existent in any other communications method. With the explosion of networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, supply chain leaders have the ability to collaborate with suppliers, outsourced manufacturers, logistics service providers, and other partners on an individual level, while also creating a visible and accessible representation of the company itself.

The benefits of incorporating social media into business processes do not stop there. There is considerable opportunity to improve internal communications, and generate collaboration between co-workers and across functional groups where oftentimes, very real barriers to communication exist.

The social network has exploded into a way of life for some, and has become a strong indicator of the norms of future of business-to-consumer, and business to business communications. It is not a case of IF social networks will be affecting our business and supply network, but WHEN!
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Daniel Kane

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