There will be many challenges to face while developing the consumer collaboration community and then even more challenges integrating the community and collected data with the extended supply chain collaborative network as a strategic feed. As with any new strategic objective the challenges must be met with patience and perseverance in order to maintain the communities and then achieve the potential value. This is no small feat to overcome, there are no cookbook implementation for either community to work from and each requires patience and creativity to achieve results.
The consumer collaborative network will provide the greatest challenge because it requires commitment from leadership to develop the community into one that will engage the consumer and provide the return value to the retailer. This type of collaborative network has not been achieved especially in the manner that is required to achieve sustaining results. There are many retailer services that support pieces of the puzzle and then there are many social networks and services that provide other pieces to the puzzle. The challenge comes from putting all of the pieces together into a forum that is robust and flexible to support growth and change based on feedback and direction from the consumer community members. This requires commitment from leadership because it will involve a great deal of trial and error and potentially redesign of the framework to support the direction. As a result of these challenges, I think it is important to build the initial versions on a cloud framework utilizing free tools, services and even infrastructure. This reduces the initial investment, other than time of course, in developing the community so there is a cushion for failure. The strategy to develop the community should be to ‘fail forward’.
The next big challenge is the utilization of data collected from the consumer network to provide real information and value to the extended supply chain network. This is an especially difficult challenge because you must identify data from many different sources and reference points to bring together in a manner and method that provide information to the members of your supply chain network. This will require a creative, true trial and error method to experiment with data and questions. This is the big data challenge that will be most difficult because the question begins related to one aspect of the business and then the information must somehow be enhanced by the various different data points available from the consumer community. For example, the retailer identifies a drop in sales for a dress and begins by evaluating trends in sales of similar products. At the same time retailer can begin to mine the data from the consumer community relating community activity to both the specific dress and then the dress line as a whole. This is where creative analysis comes into play because you must search and analyze ‘like’ types of data and put together to come to suggestions and reasons for the results.
The keys to success in starting this are the same really as any other endeavor; patience and creativity. The trick here is to extend these two keys as far and as long as possible. This is definitely the long game in a short game environment.
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?