The supply chain may reap the greatest long term benefits from the collaborative consumer community because of the value of the information that will be collected directly from consumers participating in the community.  This feedback loop directly from the consumer as a result of their participation in the collaborative community brings great value because the information is provided as a result of consumer interaction to products and other consumers.  This is important because it provides a more accurate result than any survey or focus group could provide.  The survey and focus group are developed to test assumptions where the knowledge collected from the collaborative community is derived from customer activities and interactions in their community participation.

This value will build slowly from the beginning interactions and will eventually pick up speed as the participation grows to require a great deal of capacity to support big data analysis.  From the collaborative community and supply chain network perspective though the critical first step is building a flexible framework that can expand and extend based on the changing requirements.  It is not necessary to start with the capacity to support the end results and this growth process allows the framework to be validated and revised to support the changes in growth.  In other words, it is perfectly acceptable and a good practice to start the community with a utilizing a low cost model based on low cost or free cloud technology and services and then grow this structure and framework to support increasingly robust requirements and capabilities as the community and participation grows.

It is important to focus the community participation first and foremost and the resulting data collected will provide the business value as a result of the participation.  The key benefit of this resulting data is that it is the result of the participation and direction of the community and provides a consumer viewpoint and perspective that cannot be produced through any survey or focus group.  The value and direction derived from this data will grow as the community participation grows and this value is only limited by the imagination and types of analysis performed by you and your supply chain network partners.  The participation is the key to the value of the data and this is the reason for investing the time and effort to start the community with a focus on the consumer.  This focus on the consumer should encourage the consumer to manage the community in a direction that brings value to the consumer, this consumer guieded management of community is what will bring the greatest value from the data. 

The information that you will derive from the community consumer participation will eliminate the need for surveys and focus groups.  The data will provide you with the unbiased opinions and suggestions that will only be limited by your imagination.  This data will allow you immediately test assumptions and develop data based decisions to for improvements in your product and services offerings across your extended supply chain.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?