Afternoon Coffee: Beware of Counterfeiting, Euro-Zone PMIs, Supply Chain and Social Media

Product visibility at all levels of the supply chain is more important than ever.
The World's Most Profitable Business? Counterfeiting -- "In an economy where everyone is trying to save money, it is often hard to pass up what looks like a great deal," said company CTO John DiPalo. "It's important to remember that in nearly every instance, counterfeited goods are often made with inferior materials and not held to the high standards as the original. Despite this well-meaning intention of trying to spend less, in the end, it's just not worth the risk. "In an age when all parties are responsible for the product once it leaves their four walls, it's no surprise that true product visibility throughout a supply chain is not only a necessity but a means of survival."

Watch those PMIs...
Euro-Zone Manufacturing Decline Steepens -- "Manufacturing...looks to be on course to act as a major drag on economic growth in the third quarter, as the euro zone faces a deepening slide back into recession," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist. The economy failed to grow in the first quarter of the year, the latest for which official data are available. Figures for the second quarter will be published August 14, and most economists expect them to record a contraction. The manufacturing PMIs will therefore increase the pressure on members of the European Central Bank's governing council to take action to support growth when they meet Thursday. Having cut the central bank's key interest rate in July, they are expected to focus on steps to reassure bond investors.

You can only cut so much.
As Default Looms, Postal Service Sees Deeper Woes -- The service is struggling for ways to cut costs, but it cannot eliminate Saturday delivery, as it wants to, without Congressional approval, nor can it slow delivery of the mail without regulatory approval. The Postal Service had hoped that Congress would help stanch the losses, as it did last year when it deferred the payment that is due again on Wednesday. But the House has taken no action. The Senate passed a measure that provided incentives to retire about 100,000 postal workers, or 18 percent of its employees, and allowed the post office to recoup more than $11 billion it overpaid into an employee pension fund. The Senate declined to act to stop Saturday deliveries.

Supply chain social media.
Searching for Metrics: Quantifying the Value of Social Media in Supply Chain Management -- (Note: When I talk about social media, I mean more than just Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. My definition also includes "enterprise social software" -- from best-of-breed providers, as well as existing enterprise vendors -- that companies can deploy internally to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees, and with external partners, in a private and secure environment). What I tell executives is to start small -- and within their team. Define and execute a small-scale, low-risk project that uses social media to enhance the way team members communicate and collaborate with each other (for example, to solve problems, generate and prioritize continuous improvement ideas, or document and discuss action items that emerge from team meetings). I also tell them to encourage young professionals on their team to take a leadership role in finding opportunities to improve existing processes using social media and to train colleagues who are less experienced using these tools. Executives and their teams can then apply the experience and knowledge they gain at this stage to define and execute larger projects involving other functional groups, and ultimately, external partners like suppliers and customers.

- Sheena Moore

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