Can the 3PL industry act as a catalyst to increase the collaboration and communication capabilities of their clients by providing a secure ‘clearing house’ for historical market information (business intelligence capabilities), events management capabilities to support management by exception business process automation, and client forecast historical information along with broad market forecast and trending analysis?


This certainly was a mouthful and so you should take a moment to contemplate the individual points I mention.  The concept framework would provide early trending, market shifts, costing analysis/forecasting/savings that would be based on the broad markets that are represented by the 3PL clients.  This broad market information would help to identify and define new industry ‘best guidelines’ that can be most beneficial and provide the greatest value to their clients and partners!  The 3PL could then take the next step and institutionalize these ‘best guidelines’ practices and capabilities into their service offerings to provide additional value-add services for the clients and partners.  This supports the trend towards the imbedded 3PL (4PL) service model and in essence this would enhance the relationship of the 3PL with their clients and partners.  To provide a different perspective to this, I suggest that this can be viewed as a type of cloud model, a Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS)!  The advantage and value added capabilities provided to the 3PL clients allow them to take advantage of hot industry trends by outsourcing their supply chain management to a partner that is focused on providing the best possible service and value add capabilities.


I see this trend in outsourcing the Supply Chain as an area of growth that follows a logical progression of the 3PL industry and services.  The distinct value of this model is that it develops, and takes advantage of, a partner community that supports each other through collaboration.  Each partner within the community brings their ‘secret sauce’ for providing exemplary service in their individual areas of expertise and the partner collaborative relationships provide the framework for the partners within the community to take advantage of the capabilities provided by the community as a whole. 

This model allows the individual partner to focus on the capabilities that make them special, and then utilize the community relationships and flagship capabilities of the partners to support the additional services.  The 3PL would fit into this model as the broker that provides the collaborative framework in a secured environment.  The partners in this model would be vetted by the 3PL to assure the community at large of the capabilities along with the trusted partner status of each individual.  This simplifies and greatly extends the added capabilities to all partners in the community.  In order to be sustainable, this model requires swift action to correct and ‘punish’ partners that may abuse the relationship of the community, the community cannot succeed and thrive unless there are unequivocal steps and repercussions to address transgressions and expel offending partners from the community. 


This seems to me to be the logical trend and direction that the leaders in the 3PL market either have started to take and are positioning themselves for the future.  This blends the software, cloud, and services model for supply chain management together to provide a cohesive and valuable supply chain outsourcing model.


Now for the audience participation portion of this program……


Have you embraced the concept of a partner community where you openly share information among your partners within the community?

How do you currently support your supply chain management requirements?  Do you outsource to a 3PL or do you provide these capabilities internally? 


Do you see a benefit to outsource your supply chain management requirements to a 3PL?  Are you planning to evaluate 3PL providers in the near future?


Do you currently utilize cloud services to support business needs?  If you utilize cloud services, are your happy with the outcome?