The consumer collaboration community presents a high level of complication itself in developing and maintaining an open and robust platform for the consumer and then the complication increases when you add this framework to your extended supply chain network.  I have been recommending the integration of the consumer community into your extended supply chain network to provide valuable input to your extended network.  This integration requires a great deal of patience to navigate the complications in order to successfully integrate these networks and deliver the potential value that can be achieved.  This effort is not for the faint of heart.

First of all I think you must be patient in both when and how you start the integration of the consumer community with your extended partner network.  This is because the consumer community will requires some runway to build the consumer participation through the community processes and tools.  An additional reason for the community requiring a  runway is that the data collected will require some time and probably some initial adjustments to the types of data collected in order to deliver value to your extended partner network.  These types of adjustments and fine tuning efforts will require a robust continuous improvement cycle to manage and coordinate the adjustments and potential changes to ensure a thoughtful and coordinated delivery of the improvements.  This is important because the potential impact to the integration into the extended partner network should be well understood and identified prior to the full roll-out of any major revisions to the consumer community are implemented. 

Going forward, when the consumer community is integrated with your extended partner network as a feed of information, the rate of change driven by consumers in the consumer collaboration community must also be closely managed and coordinated so that the links and the benefits to your extended partner network are not needlessly or seriously impacted.  This coordination and management of change between the consumer community and the extended partner network is not difficult, however it does require a well thought out and documented framework to track and coordinate the changes across the two.  This will require a focus and attention to process detail so that the changes to one side of the network do not impact the process framework on the other side of  the network.  For instance, changing or adding a function in the consumer community could dramatically change, or even eliminate, the ability and type of data collected as a result of the change.  The original data and timing of the collection could be a major ingredient to a process within the extended partner network.  This change could break this process and worse yet, not be identified for a period of time after the change causing a major impact to the value derived in the extended network.  

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?