Connectivity Enables Supply Chain Collaboration In Today’s Sharing Economy

Patrick Crampton-Thomas

The world has come an incredibly long way in a relatively short time. One hundred years ago, telephones were not yet in widespread use. The world’s first computer wasn’t completed until 1946. And the beginnings of the modern-day Internet didn’t take shape until the early ‘80s.

Today, everybody is connected. Smartphones enable us to connect with our friends, family, and businesses immediately. With the touch of a few buttons, we’re capable of doing virtually anything, from calling our parents to summoning a car to booking a place to stay halfway around the globe.

This connectivity is having a radical impact on the world. From a business perspective, it’s created what’s commonly referred to as the sharing economy, an ecosystem built around the blending of digital, physical, and human resources.

Yet despite the many opportunities that the sharing economy presents, only one-third of supply chain organizations are monetizing it, with 9% calling themselves first movers and 23% calling themselves fast followers, according to recent SCM World research.

By leveraging the right technologies and embracing opportunities to collaborate, your supply chain organization can drive its future growth.

Technology is powering the sharing economy

The sharing economy comprises a network of networks – which is powered by technology.

The connectivity enabled by technology enables supply chain organizations to band together and leverage their strengths more broadly. Instead of one-to-one-type collaboration, multiple companies – suppliers, manufacturers, logistics providers, etc. – can now embark on many-to-many collaboration and operate shared product or asset networks.

This will help businesses to take full advantage of the respective strengths of their partners and allow them to deliver superior end-user experiences.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such technological advancement that’s having a transformative effect on supply chain. IoT-enabled sensors provide companies with the ability to improve how they maintain or operate existing products. They can also help businesses to innovative and produce more enhanced features and products in the future.

Consumers benefit from this with all-around better products and services.

Do the rewards of sharing outweigh the risks?

Co-managed collaboration is quickly gaining traction on independently managed collaboration within the supply chain community, particularly with regard to technology, data and reporting, and physical assets.

By having a shared view across networks, organizations can gain real-time visibility into their operations, which can help them to optimize planning, accelerate decision making, and spur end-to-end supply chain success.

Of course, there’s risk involved, and supply chain organizations must assess the potential risk and reward of sharing their digital, physical, and/or human resources.

In a recent SCM World Value Chain survey, 153 supply chain experts were asked to evaluate the risk and reward of several sharing opportunities:

  • The sharing of transportation assets was considered the least risky and most rewarding.
  • The sharing of facilities was also viewed quite favorably, with 26% of respondents calling it low-risk and high-reward.
  • The sharing of manufacturing assets was viewed with more skepticism, with 28% respondents referring to it as a high-risk, low-reward endeavor.

And while risks certainly exist in collaborative environments, sharing responsibilities often makes it easier for companies to mitigate and overcome adverse issues and reap the rewards of a connected network.

Seize more opportunities in the sharing economy

Leveraging the right technologies, embracing opportunities to collaborate, and properly managing risk is a surefire recipe for mastering digital supply chain operations in today’s sharing economy.

Organizations that are able to carry out these three goals will be in prime position to create new business opportunities and generate more revenue.

If you’d like to hear some more of my thoughts on connectivity and collaboration in today’s sharing economy, check out this SCM World video.

For a more comprehensive overview of SCM World’s look into this topic, download Connecting the Sharing Economy: Blending Physical and Digital Supply Chains to Created Network Effects.

SAP Extended Supply Chain

Patrick Crampton-Thomas

About Patrick Crampton-Thomas

Patrick Crampton-Thomas is Vice President of Supply Chain Solution Management at SAP, with global responsibility for the response and supply orchestration portfolio, based in the UK. This includes the strategy and go-to-market for existing and new supply chain solutions including integrated business planning solutions, supply chain control tower, and supply chain collaboration.