The Third Wave in Supply Chain Management: Social Supply Chain and More

Have you heard about the new Wave 3 supply chain management solutions? Or are you mired in Wave 2?

Or were you unaware that anybody measures supply chain technology in waves?

I suspect that for most readers of this blog, supply chain management technology “is what it is.” That's understandable. The technology improves incrementally as vendors develop new features, add new modules, and work out bugs over the years.

But I’ve spent pretty much my entire career directing and analyzing these enhancements while also planning the strategic direction of entire product lines. And I can tell you, based on extensive personal experience, that Wave 3 isn’t just the next new feature. It’s a fundamental change in what your SCM platform can do for you and your entire business.

Third Wave -- Social Supply ChainLooking Back at Two Waves of SCM
The first wave of supply chain solutions was ERP or point solutions that ran on mainframe computers. If you’ve been in the industry that long, you can probably remember how satisfying it was to pull up business data on a computer screen rather than flipping through file folders. And letting a spreadsheet crunch your numbers instead of doing it yourself was a huge time-saver. Of course, the catch was that point solutions were, well, point solutions. They weren’t — and still aren’t — integrated. They streamline and automate certain tasks, but they can’t show you the big picture.

The limitations of Wave 1 solutions caused customers to ask for a deeper level of integration — and vendors delivered. Wave 2 supply chain solutions were true SCM solutions that ran in a client/server configuration. These solutions combined more and more business functions in centralized platforms. They encouraged greater collaboration among anyone who used the software. But this, of course, was a “one-off” style of collaboration, limited to the specific stakeholders who were invited to provide their input, and were given the access credentials to do so. And as soon as a user stepped away from the computer for lunch or the end of the day, productivity came to a halt.

That’s where we were as an industry, until recently. The cries for greater collaboration and mobility are being met with Wave 3 solutions that enable a whole new paradigm for communication across the global supply chain.

Wave 3 Solutions and the Social Supply Chain
To put it simply, Wave 3 supply chain solutions enable web-based collaboration among people on both sides of your corporate firewall. But that’s not the whole story — not even close.

Wave 3 enables a social supply chain by integrating the latest social media tools to let stakeholders communicate in real time through a familiar interface. It also incorporates the newest mobile technology to let employees work the way they want to work. Have your employees ever used Facebook or LinkedIn? That’s all the training they’ll need to communicate through a Wave 3 supply chain solution. Do they own a mobile device? They’ll be able to stay productive from anywhere at any time.

The advantages here are obvious. You can pull together all your stakeholders at once, rather than going through round after round of tedious communications just to solicit price quotes or alert everyone to a potential disruption. You minimize the cycle times for each round of communication. You position your business to respond much more quickly to changes in your market or industry.

Demand Solutions already offers the benefits of its Social™ Supply Chain to clients around the world. Find out more about our Wave 3 social SCM technology today.