Supply chain partners have been in the forefront of breaking down silos of control and activities for quite some time bringing very productive results for quite some time.  Now these practices must be pushed across the entire extended supply supply chain to eliminate the friction caused by these silos.  The challenge for this though is overcoming the cultural silos of ownership, or command and control, within the partner cultures. Collaboration requires a release of command and control and an embrace of shared responsibility and shared benefits.  This release of the command and control culture and the resulting increase in the collaboration has the potential to bring about a great deal of benefits across the extended supply chain.


The challenge though is overcoming the cultural limitations within each of the organizations, I believe there is an overarching cultural baseline within organizations that assumes the collaboration and resulting shared control is great for the other guy but each company hesitates and refuses to release their controls.  This in itself is first a hesitation on collaboration and partnership and second a strain on the potential benefits that could be achieved with a shared, collaborative, responsibility.  Operationally it is not difficult to address the shared responsibility, however, culturally this is very difficult to put into place.


Unfortunately for the extended supply chain the end customers, especially in the retail market place are not waiting for the supply chain and the retailers to change their ways.  These end  customers are building their own collaborative practices and capabilities which in turn are driving and demanding change in the retail marketplace.  The customer practices are going to be driving the supply chain to react and change to support the demands.  Technology has provided the means for customers to build their own capabilities without the support of retailers and the supply chain.  Mobile technology has provided the tipping point in this effort and customers across the board are taking advantage of this in their demands.


There are no standard guidelines to enacting these types of changes and these are rather sweeping changes to the organizations, across the extended supply chain.  The point of the matter though is that these organizations must get started somewhere and this means that organizations must view this as a process that continues and not an activity that has an end date.  It's the starting point though that is difficult challenge to overcome and requires a change in viewpoint and most importantly the acceptance of a change in culture.  This is a critical point though because customers no longer have to wait for acceptance and with the global economy these customers can simply pick a supplier to meet their demands and leave the slow movers behind to fail.


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?