Social Media and Supply Chain Management


“If social media is powerful enough to tighten the bonds between brands and consumers, is it powerful enough to tighten each link in your supply chain?” Most of us are connected customers, having forged deep relationships with the brands of our choice. These choices are reflected by us not only in our day to day buying behaviour but also in our behaviour on social networking sites that with time has become an integral part of our life. Likes, comments, shares and word of mouth publicity is what shows our interests and willingness to go for a particular brand. If the potential customers forecasting could be done prior to the launch of the product, or customers requirement could be gauged on real-time basis, or product performance could be monitored after launch, this all could make the supply chain not just more efficient but also pro-active. Social media integration into Supply Chain could help to achieve the same

Social Media Defined and Classified

The McKinsey Global Institute defines social technologies as: “IT products and services that enable the formation and operation of online communities, where participants have distributed access to content and distributed rights to create, add, and/or modify content”

Can be broadly classified into two segments

  1. Public social  website applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+
  2. Enterprise social applications includes corporate intranets and other software platforms

Public social website applications and their impact on Supply Chain Management

Present Scenario

Research conducted by Adrian Gonzalez, founder and president of Adelante SCM , found that close to 62 percent of supply chain professionals surveyed reported that their companies have not yet implemented a supply chain networking solution. Gonzalez’ research also found that 30 percent of supply chain executives surveyed reported that their companies block access to social media sites. Similarly, research conducted by Kemp Goldberg Partners and IDG Research Services found that 60 percent of supply chain decision-makers surveyed reported that their supply chain partners and vendors were either not participating in social media or they were unaware of their participation.

Why should a company engage Social Media for its Supply Chain Management?

  • Increase visibility to both Consumers and Suppliers
  • Analytics and forecasts about demand, risks, opportunities, competitions
  • Close contact/ engagement with customers as well as all other stake holders like suppliers
  • Influence buyer decisions – study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Marketing Leadership Council found that the average customer progresses nearly 60 percent of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales rep.

How can Social Media support SCM        

  1. Strengthening supplier relations

            Large, complex supply chains are difficult to regulate and big companies can easily lose touch with their suppliers. For example, it so happened that, Walmart,  was completely unaware that it was working with the clothing supplier in Bangladesh that caught fire, resulting in the deaths of over 100 factory workers. Companies, could set-up training sessions online using Google+ and other similar tools. Companies can now create a supplier community in which problems are reported, solutions are exchanged and networks are grown.

  1. Growing and Maintaining Network

            Whether a company is searching for a new supplier or a curious consumer is attempting to find out the source of a particular product or a supplier is trying to find potential customers, Social networks offer a good database to search and identify potential partners and interact with them

  1. Knowledge Sharing

            Social platforms could provide a huge base of knowledge and  prove helpful in solving supply chain issues. Real time communication through these platforms can also speed-up decision making processes and enhance supply chain effectiveness

Enterprise social applications

Comprises social software as used in “enterprise” (business/commercial) contexts. It includes social and networked modifications to corporate intranets and other classic software platforms used by large companies to organize their communication.

Popular enterprise social software applications include:

Jive – the Jive Social Business Platform offers a Facebook-like interface that an organization’s employees can use to brainstorm, collaborate and share information.

Socialcast – The VMware Socialcast platform allows an organization’s employees to share information and documents with co-workers in real time through a Facebook- or Twitter-like news feed.

Microsoft Sharepoint – SharePoint 2013 offers a simplified user experience and added enterprise social media capabilities, including shared calendars, blogs, wikis, surveys, document libraries, shared task lists, community forums, a micro-blogging capability and enhanced search capabilities.

How does Enterprise social applications support SCM?

  1. Cloud-based platform supports integration of 100 percent of trading partners—regardless of their technical sophistication—and enables one to manage and automate multi-enterprise processes, including order and inventory management, supply and demand planning, and logistics visibility, among others.
  2. Gives real-time, end-to-end visibility and control across all trading partner operations, and can respond to potential disruptions as they occur, improving supply chain performance and preventing lost sales.
  3. Integration of enterprise resource planning (ERP), planning, and product life cycle (PLM) systems of various entities involved in the supply chain. Once integrated, trading partners can leverage social supply chain applications to conduct automated, intelligent business processes to deliver goods to market more effectively—and profitably.
  4. Enables continuous monitoring and scorecard the performance of suppliers—motivating suppliers to adhere to performance standards and allowing to quickly identify and eliminate suppliers that aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.


Authors: Mili, Kirti Sagar, Sailesh Babu R, Diptadip Biswas, Pratik Singh, Aditya mittal

NITIE (Batch of 2014-16)


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