Bruce Richardson Asks: Are We Ready for Social Supply Chains? (Part 2)

Click here for the first post in this series.

I previously shared some of Bruce Richardson's perspectives on expanding the social enterprise from sales, marketing and products through to the physical (and even virtual services) supply chain. I also offered up some of my own thoughts on a more targeted and discrete scale around why procurement's social supply chain is already here. Today, let me offer up another potential scenario that Bruce outlines about how social procurement connectivity might work in a Chatter-like application.

Bruce suggests the following scenario:

"Imagine that Marc Benioff and Michael Dell are meeting right now to discuss Marc's idea for the salesforce.com DealBook, a new tablet designed specifically for business apps. Over lunch, Mr. Dell agrees to license some of his IP and to share his suppliers in exchange for royalties on each unit sold...When Mr. Benioff returns home, he announces the news to his executive team. They immediately create "Project Aloha," and set up new Chatter streams including "Launch Teams," "Development Schedules," "New Product Ideas," "Tier 1 Suppliers," "Carriers," "Competition," "Sales Forecasts," and "Cost Targets." In addition to all internal communications, Chatter also becomes a content repository as third party information such as IHS' iSuppli Teardown reports get added for all to share."

Following this, Bruce suggests the team creates a truly social network for suppliers using a combination of technologies and existing supplier networks, such as the 50,000 partners in E2open's trading network. At this stage, the participants might discover that "their new partners" include SalesForce.com customers, including those that have used Force.com (SFDC's development platform) "to write a new application to streamline the onboarding process. A deal is quickly negotiated, but with one condition -- Chatter will be the collaboration standard for all supplier interactions. Over the next few weeks and months the network expands from design firms, contract manufacturers and Tier 1 partners to include critical suppliers embedded deeper in the supply chain. It also includes selected AppExchange partners who have agreed to provide free 90-days trials of their software as well. In a short time, Chatter is conveying POs, demand updates, engineering changes, and updated launch information to key suppliers."

Far-fetched? Read the rest of Bruce's analysis. I have my own views. Stay tuned as I offer up my own ideas at the end of this year about how social supply chains and broader procurement collaboration with internal stakeholders and suppliers via new social technologies are likely causing lasting change. Maybe not at the same level Bruce suggests, but in a critical way nonetheless.

- Jason Busch

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