This week I had the opportunity to participate in a Logistics Management webinar that featured Adrian Gonzalez, Director, Logistics Viewpoints, as one of the 4 speakers. Adrian spoke on the topic of Social Media in Supply Chain and Logistics. This is what he had to say.
Social Media are tools for communicating and collaborating. Citing data from an October 2011 Adelante survey, Adrian commented that a large block of respondents (e.g. over 40%) agreed with the statement that Social Media will transform supply chains (for the better) in ways that we cannot envision today. Young professionals, the key early adopter segment, are using them today primarily for Business to Consumer branding and marketing. In his view, we are at an infection point where the emphasis will shift to Business to Business external and internal communication and collaboration, at all levels within organizations.
The world of smartphones, tablets and social media are coalescing and from this integration, new features and applications are taking shape. E mail communication, at least for your professionals, is being superseded by texting and social media communication. Adrian argued that “public” social media tools will become integrated with “enterprise” social media tools leading to faster connectivity and enhanced business integration.
Don’t be afraid of them and don’t ignore them since we will all be using them sooner rather than later. He related the current infatuation with social media to our interest in the internet in the 90’s. Smartphone usage, E mail communication and internet access have become second nature in the intervening years. He also suggested that we should look beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. He highlighted You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare as other media to investigate. New social media tools are constantly emerging.
He cautioned against focusing on the buzzwords (e.g. LinkedIn). Adrian suggested focusing on what needs to be done and then employing the social media tools that are the best fit for each organization. Over the past few years, we are witnessing the rise in popularity of Skype for business, web meetings, blogging, RSS feeds and other mechanisms that foster teamwork and instant communication. As was the case with the internet in the 90’s, it is helpful for less experienced users to seek out mentors from the younger professionals on the team. They are often the most knowledgeable and sophisticated users.
Some companies in our industry (e.g. BlueGraceLogistics) are taking a leadership role in this area. Rather than restricting their employees from using the internet or social media during working hours, they are encouraging their personnel to use these tools to enhance their engagement with customers and suppliers.
In addition to the personal side of Facebook, special interest groups (e.g. truck drivers) are forming to share information. Similarly on LinkedIn, the service is being used for far more than recruiting. Specific groups are being formed to discuss Best Practices in Freight Management and a host of other topics. LinkedIn is also becoming a force in target marketing and advertising.
Twitter gives users instant access to a broad array of ideas and opinions from thought leaders (and followers) throughout the transportation industry. It also provides those people who have something to say with a platform to build a following. Twitter has immediacy and the ability to spark instant feedback on almost any topic or news story.
There is no doubt that Social Media will have the same level of impact as has the internet over the past two decades. For those individuals still sitting on the fence, it is certainly time to at least get engaged so as to understand how they can be used to provide a competitive advantage for your business.