Heads in the cloud
Monday, 28 January 2013
You donít need an emergency to get value from a cloud-based supply chain, writes Boris Felgendreher in the first of a five-part series on using Facebook principles in business
But in just a few years, Facebook has managed to completely disrupt and revolutionise the way we manage our social connections. And it has done so by virtue of a small number of key principles that are worth taking cues from when it comes to managing global supply chain networks.
The first is information sharing.
The key to the Facebook information-sharing model is that the information can come from many different places and sources around the world, but it is posted and stored in one central place that all of your friends are connected to – the cloud. And this way of communicating has caught on quicker than anything in recent memory.
Cloud-based services like Facebook make it extremely easy for you to get started. There’s no software to buy and install – Facebook software runs in the cloud. No need to have huge hard drives to store all the photos, videos or messages you want to share – Facebook’s storage runs in the cloud too.
It’s important to note here that the “cloud” is not just a new buzzword for the web. Yes, Facebook is a website. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a device-agnostic collaboration platform that brings everyone in your network instantly “onto the same page”.
Just like Facebook changed the way you share information within your circle of friends, a cloud supply chain, built on the Facebook information-sharing model, changes the way you can communicate information throughout your circle of supply chain partners, because, for the first time, all of them are connected through one central platform in the cloud.
Instead of baby photos, thousands of supply chain events get automatically posted to the cloud and new ETAs are shared with every supply chain partner and stakeholder who needs to know in real time – suppliers, ocean carriers, 3PLs, trucking companies, consolidators, air carriers, customs agents, forwarders and manufacturing sites around the world are in the loop in real time.
Whenever there is a major supply chain disruption, like a natural disaster for example, every supply chain partner affected can get updates on contingency plans immediately.
But there doesn’t need to be an emergency for a cloud platform to deliver value to a supply chain. The rate at which global companies are now racing to move their supply chains to the cloud is a clear indication that they are in much need of a new information-sharing model to improve everyday inter-company collaboration.
During pre-cloud days, sharing information about global supply chains was all about sending – mostly through one-to-one communication using letters, phone calls, faxes, emails or EDI connections. In retrospect, this is highly inefficient and not scalable to support information sharing on a massive scale.
Boris Felgendreher is European Marketing Manager at GT Nexus.