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Mobile social comms could boost supply chain productivity

Posted: 03 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:supply chain? email? social media? social technologies?

Emerging social media capabilities may offer a more effective way of sharing information and collaborating in real time, especially in scenarios when emails may not be reliable. And why not consider the option? Certain business processes arrive at a standstill in cases where emails have failed, leading to more serious consequences for the organisation.

Let's take a small example: Have you ever held a meeting and everybody showed up except that one team member that was off sick without a back-up? Maybe you had to postpone and send everyone away because key information from that team member was not available. Perhaps no one saw the email about that one pending task assigned to the absent team member. All in all, it turns out to simply be an annoying delay, but in other business scenarios, it could be a critical problem.

Imagine a similar thing happening in an operations scenario where the million-dollar shipment has to go out in the truck at 4 pm but still don't have any information from that absent team member. The impact is tremendous if the shipment goes out or is prepped without that information. And if this key team member is coordinating with several other groups, the impact is even greater. The activities of several groups might come to a grinding halt. Or to take a smaller example, how often does a group of collaborators promise to "reply all" with status updates, only to have sending those updates get lost in the fray of busyness? Too often.

Last week, we were doing a demo of our In Command Mobile Eco System to a Retailer's Supply Chain team. We started to show the communication features within our devices, including texting capabilities and Facetime support to allow for quick communication with a supervisor. The operations leader asked us if we have capabilities to enable communication within a team, something similar to Facebook or the WhatsApp real-time messaging platform. This type of feature allows for true collaboration, and the sharing of tasks to allow for quick responses. The team stays in sync. If one person is not able to address the issue the other team member jumps in to help, it is much easier to ask for help within the team if one team member is overwhelmed etc.

I consulted a friend who uses WhatsApp a lot and she offered the three top benefits that she has found in personal use:

1) The ability to stay on top of things.

Within her multiple groups of friends, she is always up to date on what is happening among her friends from school, her family and friends from work. Sometimes, all her friends from work jump on a WhatsApp discussion to have official conversations that may be deemed sensitive within their office communication tool Hipchat.

2) The ability to share a picture, video or any file and share it easily among multiple groups.

3) The ability to reach a person irrespective of where they are.

My friend knows people all over the world. When she reaches out, even if she doesn't get a response from a person she is trying to reach, somebody else jumps in and offers information. These interactions all happen over mobile devices.

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