Social Media Drives B2B Collaborative Efforts in the Supply Chain

Business to consumer (B2C) social networks lay the groundwork for successful collaboration in business to business (B2B) environments


Social networking sites are not new. By now, we’re all familiar with platform giants Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And new mediums continue to develop. Pinterest marks the third most popular U.S. social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter, according to New York, N.Y.-based Experian Marketing Services. FamilyLeaf gives members a more intimate online setting to communicate with family more privately. Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr—the list goes on and on as use of such mediums dates back to the 90s.

And such environments are not going away. 91 percent of today’s online adults use social media regularly, Experian Marketing Services finds. What’s more, a number of businesses in the supply chain—an area which initially was slow to adopt the use of such online sites—are now not only embracing their use but tracking the data for return on investment (ROI); and developing their own internal cloud environments to engage staff with customers, distributors, potential clients and other key executives.

While some businesses still doubt the effectiveness of using such platforms for sales, marketing and business growth, evidence proves that social media creates an opportunity for suppliers and vendors. In a report from IDG Research Services and Kemp Goldberg Partners, one-third of 150 qualified respondents said they would recognize their vendors and suppliers more positively if they were to use social media to engage with them. Additionally, more than half of survey respondents engaging with supply chain partners via social networks frequently or occasionally share information with others, utilize it to stay current with industry trends and interact with other industry experts and peers.

But in order for adoption to continue to grow, it will be up to those vendors and industry executives utilizing social networks now for business collaboration to educate others in the supply chain of the benefits it brings—not just in Business to Commerce (B2C) but Business to Business (B2B) environments.

Supply chain social collaboration on the rise

“The conversations about social media are happening all the time,” explained Gregory Hedges, Managing Director, Protiviti, Menlo Park, Calif. “We’ve seen it on the business to consumer side and you see it even on the business to business side. And leveraging it is a strategic choice that supply chain executives consider all the time.”

According to Aberdeen Group Inc., 44 percent of companies currently use social networking to support their supply chain while 37 percent of companies confirm that they will start to use social networking as a part of their supply chain processes in the next 12 to 24 months.

Global supply chain solutions provider Manhattan Associates Inc., Atlanta, demonstrated their communal actions with their Manhattan SCOPE framework which combines social networking capabilities with actionable data for improved operational results. Rosslyn Analytics’ RA.Pid Supplier Risk Profile data services and analytics platform links tagged data to both external and internal sources for analysis in real time. Basware’s Alusta platform delivers business to business (B2B) transaction collaboration between buyers and suppliers. Social commerce trading platform Gotradelive launched earlier this year and enables small-to-mid-sized companies to sell, source and promote products and services confidentially in this supplier network.

“There is no doubt in my mind that social media and the mining of the data that it creates will drive supply chain efficiency,” confirmed Domenic Champa, Managing Director, Protiviti. “The extension of the internal networks to provide connectivity between trading partners is expanding exponentially. If you take a look at the users involved with social media today, you’ll see that we’re at an inflection point. At every conference in the last couple of years, we witnessed these social media tracks which were always the most crowded and the most vocal. Now, social media is still more of a marketing tool but you’ll see it become more of an operational tool to connect customers with manufacturers, and manufacturers with real demand so they can manage the supply chain functions.”

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