Ahhh, social media—it’s one of those topics that follows you wherever you go, isn’t it? Whether it’s “checking yourself in” via Foursquare at your local restaurant or announcing a business update on Twitter or using Facebook or Instagram to share images from a recent industry event—it’s always at your fingertips, ready to be accessed. But for the global supply chain, it’s become much more than just joining a group or starting an industry discussion via LinkedIn. The use of social software by businesses to collaborate and share information via enterprise-grade social technologies continues to grow at a dramatic rate.
In fact, Forrester Research reported in 2011 that social collaboration software expanded from $900 million in 2011 to $6.4 billion in 2016.
Furthermore, the adoption of enterprise-grade social technologies continues to emerge as a significant driver of improvement in supply chain productivity, according to FusionOps’ recent “Your Social Supply Chain” report.
And the bottom line is that it comes down to the users to continue to propel enterprise-level platforms with social capabilities forward in growth.
“If it’ a good tool, and people start using it, they will continue to use it until something more effective comes along or for as long as it’s valuable,” confirmed Marc Stevenson, Production Manager, Security & Inspection Products, Varian Medical Systems. “There’s a huge benefit to everybody who is willing to share information on that platform, dive in and start a discussion on there. But until the users are comfortable with it and they want to participate in it and they see a benefit, you’re still going to have these meetings that are not 100 percent complete and you’re going to continue to see these email chains that go on for miles until some sort of resolution happens—rather than to try to get that collaboration going through this platform.”
The heightened need for improved collaboration
And from the looks of it, global users are taking matters into their own hands to use more collaborative platforms for work, despite company protocol.
While nearly half of employees report that social tools at work help increase their productivity, according to new research from Ipsos, more than 30 percent of companies underestimate the value of these tools and often restrict their use. To counter this, 31 percent of employees surveyed said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools, according to the research, conducted for Microsoft Corp. and which surveyed 9,908 information workers in 32 countries. This comes as no surprise if we factor in that “39 percent of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces; and 40 percent believe social tools help foster better teamwork” the research further stated.
If that’s not evidence enough, Microsoft Corp.’s 2012 acquisition of enterprise social network Yammer—used by such companies as DHL, Manhattan Associates, Capgemini and more—may have been perhaps one of the biggest “hints” as to how great social media’s influence on the enterprise is—despite the number of naysayers in the industry who claim it has no use in supply chain processes.
For Sunnyvale, Calif.-based FusionOps, while the company provides supply chain analytics first and foremost, it identifies with the user’s need for more collaboration by integrating in social media techniques to make the distribution of information more efficient and user-friendly. On top of its self-service analytics capabilities, the company’s application configures transaction information from ERP systems through its integration with SAP and then extracts relevant data to provide its customers and their key groups’ information to better run their business.