Old Supply Chain Dogs Find New Tactics From Marketing

Supply chain professionals likely don't recognize the names BlueKai or Silverpop. These companies built their technology to assist online marketing and advertising services.

Earlier this year, Oracle acquired BlueKai, which manages data for online marketing services. Similarly in early April, IBM said it would acquire Silverpop, which offers a suite of cloud-based marketing services. These companies were built from the ground up to manage online data and services. Both have technology to create a major advantage for the electronics manufacturing supply chain.

Jay Henderson, global strategy director of IBM Smarter Commerce division, said Big Blue continues to acquire online marketing technology that can “feed back up into the supply chain” to help manufacturing supply chain professionals with demand sensing and planning, along with shortening the replenishment cycle times between production and sales.

Using snippets of the marketing technology can help to compress procurement schedules, streamline manufacturing processes, and improve logistics and distribution from manufacturing to retail stores — all through analytics, optimization, and consumer insights gained from online marketing. Here are some options to consider.

Learn quickly from mistakes. The Internet affords supply chain experts the ability to make mistakes and quickly recover if things don't go as planned. Build safeguards into processes. It hardly needs explaining how failure can cause damage. Online marketers have build in safeguards that allow them to see online campaign inefficiencies and make changes in real-time on the fly, especially for bid adjustments in advertising campaigns. Many online ads are bought and sold in real-time like bids in an auction or the stock exchange. Automation makes it happen in milliseconds.

Keep the focus on doing better. Ask yourself to define the underlying reason for doing things a particular way. Borrow ideas from other industries. It may take integrating technology or a change in business processes. Not all ideas will work. Radical changes may require test and measurement before full implementation, similar to the way the company might test new circuit boards or power supplies.

Think like a marketer . Imagine a positive outcome and re-engineering methods. Beware of the next big thing, but also observe and apply new thought processes. Electronics manufacturing supply chain execs can gain valuable insights from the way radical online technology works, while keeping traditional structures in place. Supply chain leaders need to design processes around Internet connectivity and technology that didn't exist when establishing their company's supply chain. One good example points to mobile devices and the concept based on the Internet of Things.

Gartner forecasts the Internet to become the hub for more than 26 billion devices by 2020, up from 0.9 billion in 2010. Depending on the type of industry, it will impact the information available to supply chain leaders and how their supply chain operates.

Respect the data . Bringing marketing technology into the manufacturing supply chain creates more data headaches, but it also helps companies better understand their potential and existing customers. The need for accurate data remains obvious, but many retailers and consumer products manufacturing companies might think back to the repercussions of data overload during the early days of bringing radio frequency identification technology into the supply chain to track materials in real-time.

Supply chain professionals had to find ways to sort through an abundance of data and determine what to use and what to discard. With online marketing technology moving into the manufacturing supply chain, the industry could relive similar struggles around managing data.

Act for long-term success . The most challenging part points to growing capabilities through new technology while maintaining structure. A tweak here or there can potentially lessen any impact from bringing online marketing technologies into the electronics manufacturing supply chain. The results from the technology could have profound impact on the business. It could raise accountability and give clarity into forecasting demand, create a mobile workforce, provide real-time feedback to supply chain managers trying to mitigate risk, raise margins and profit, and reclaim lost hours in unproductive meetings.

8 comments on “Old Supply Chain Dogs Find New Tactics From Marketing

  1. Himanshugupta
    April 26, 2014

    I am a bit lost here as i could not find or differentiate between what supply chain professionals are doing right now that is not right or optimal. The points suggested in this articles are general and not specific to supply chain only.

  2. _hm
    April 26, 2014

    I wonder – being so good advertisement channel, why BlueKai and Silverpop had no visibility to common supply chain professional?

    Should not they make themselves more prominent?


  3. Laurie Sullivan
    April 26, 2014

    Thanks for your comment, Hh. Yes, I think these companies, along with others focusing on marketing automation, should have made themselves known to supply chain professionals years ago. I have been writing on that topic (on and off) in a marketing blog for about two years after seeing their technology had the potential to solve challenges in the manufacturing supply chain. Their advantage comes from building the technology from the ground up to support data and backend systems that serve online advertisements such as search, video or display ads. The type of ad you see to the right of this post. It's done in a fraction of a millisecond. It's done in an auction, so not one, but many brands, simultaneously, could bid to serve their ad in that space to you.

  4. Laurie Sullivan
    April 26, 2014

    Hi Humanshugupta, Thank you for your post. Can you give me three things you think the supply chain could improve through technology and I will try to reply with answers. 

    My original thoughts were around automating the buying process and forecasting demand. There's always room for improvement through automation. These processes could also assist the end of the supply chain at retailers, along with after market services like warranties. 

  5. Taimoor Zubar
    April 27, 2014

    “Bringing marketing technology into the manufacturing supply chain creates more data headaches, but it also helps companies better understand their potential and existing customers”

    @Hailey: I think the whole idea of a profitable organization is to indulge in activities that can allow it to get the maximum revenue from serving its customers. Hence, everything that the company does has to involve the customers – be it marketing or supply chain. I don't see how it was not being done in the supply chain function before hand.

  6. Laurie Sullivan
    April 29, 2014

    Customer service begins with an idea. It extends through raw materials procurement and manufacturing, and ends when the consumer stops using the device. Marketing technology can support the entire journey. The electronics industry just need smart minds–like those who read EBN–to connect the dots. 

  7. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 29, 2014

    @Laurie, it's really pretty amazing considering that organizations are always bemoaning that they want new markets. On the other hand, the speed of business is so fast that taking time to break into a new market can be daunting. I think, at least in teh case of supply chain, though, that there's a thirst for this type of ability.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 29, 2014

    @TaimoorZ, there's often a huge gap between what companies SHOULD do and what they DO do. Sad but true.

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