SAP software is filling a void in the supply chain industry as more companies use social technologies to improve business processes.
The results of a recent survey, outlined in a post on the Logistics Viewpoints website, show how limited the adoption of enterprise social networking solutions has been. Out of more than 200 respondents, 89 percent of supply chain professionals reported that their companies either did not yet have a social networking system or they did not know if their company did.
This article brings up an extremely relevant topic in enterprise social networking. Everyone today is familiar with and uses social networking to some degree in their personal lives and, to an extent, in their interactions with the businesses they buy from.
It is only natural that the next step in the evolution of social networking is to take it to the enterprise so that business processes can benefit in the same way that personal interactions have. However, it is also true that businesses seeing this trend and wanting to take advantage of it have very few social tools that are integrated with business processes.
SAP software is addressing this need. SAP has taken JAM, its enterprise social networking tool, and is weaving it into its cloud application portfolio, including customer, people and financial applications. In essence, the concept of social collaboration is overlaid on business processes.
For example, an accounts payable clerk reviewing a supplier invoice in the ERP application can stream a message to a colleague in purchasing to obtain more information about the invoice. The message is streamed much like in an application such as Facebook, but the message and the response are all in context with the invoice and the purchasing processes.
Another area where social networking is extremely important and should be integrated into enterprise applications is social listening and business response. Companies today need to be keenly aware of what is being said about their products and their consumers’ buying experience. As these sentiments spread virally, it is important that they be addressed — whether they’re positive or negative comments — just as fast and just as publicly.
In order to do this, not only must social listening tools be in place, but they must also be integrated with internal business systems. The company cannot just listen; they also must act in a speedy, coordinated fashion with all relevant team members included in the conversation. When it comes to social networking, companies not acting on this trend will risk becoming the social pariah.
Finally, enterprise social networking also can play an important role in risk management by allowing a distributor to “listen” to what’s happening with its suppliers. For example, if a distributor hears via social media that there are issues at a supplier’s plant, it can take action and find a replacement vendor before the news reaches the mainstream. That ability could prove to be a key competitive advantage.
As the Logistics Viewpoints post notes, “we’re still in the early stages of using social networking technologies for supply chain management.” However, it is important that wholesale and retail distributors embrace enterprise social networking now to take advantage of its benefits and create a competitive edge.
Source: Logistics Viewpoints, July 2013