This continues our series of commentaries outlining our 2012 Predictions for Global Supply Chains. These predictions are provided in the spirit of advising supply chain organizations in setting management agenda for the year ahead, and in helping our readers and clients to prepare their supply chain management teams in establishing programs, initiatives and educational agendas for the New Year.

Readers are welcomed to review our previous series of postings.  These include:

The full listing of 2012 predictions

Predictions One and Two.

Prediction Three

Prediction Four

Predictions Five and Six

Predictions Seven and Eight

Prediction Nine


Prediction Ten: The leveraged use of systems of engagement, namely mobile and social media applications within select supply chain business process areas will gain additional momentum in select areas of supply chain, PLM and manufacturing process.

The year 2011 provided increased evidence of increasing interest and initial deployment of means to engage people or virtually orchestrate self-forming teams. The leveraging of mobility based tools has had increased popularity and many supply chain related technology providers have been augmenting applications for mobility use. Leveraged use of mobile and social media based applications such as Twitter and Facebook to enhance areas of supply chain management or enhance communications is also gaining increased interest.  While social media remains an emerging area, primarily because broader use of social media remains blocked in many corporate settings, supply chain management teams remain excited about the longer-term potential to enhance communication and team collaboration, and we anticipate more momentum in 2012.

Much of the efforts in 2011 were focused on the product demand side and included gaining immediate feedback on new or current product offerings, enhancing product promotional programs, or incorporating the voice of the customer in product development and customer service programs. Interest in mobility based applications came in the areas of product demand planning, procurement, replenishment and basic business intelligence.

There was also selective use of social media tools in helping to manage major supply chain disruption, including the tsunami that occurred in northern Japan.  Companies are discovering that social media applications can augment supply chain management in time critical or time sensitive needs, or when traditional means of communication will not suffice, such as the assessment of employee safety or status of supplier teams in times of severe natural disaster.

In our conference travels during 2011, we noticed more educational sessions dedicated to social media use within supply chain.  At the CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals) Annual Conference this year, a social media workshop session was packed with attendees and panelists represented initiatives underway at Con-Way, Wal-Mart and Volkswagen.

We predict that the momentum for systems of engagement will continue, especially as more tech savvy professionals take on further responsibilities. We anticipate leading-edge organizations to leverage further use of social media technologies on the supply side of global supply chains along with broader use on the demand side. The power and potential of social media in establishing communication links, forming virtual ad-hoc teams in time of need and discovering information is not a passing fad, but is here to stay.

This concludes our series of Supply Chain Matters 2012 Predictions.

In our discussions and consideration, there were certainly other Predictions that almost made our Top Ten, and merit a listing. They were:

Honorable Mentions:

  • A capacity blow-up among global ocean container and vessel operators that could dramatically impact the landscape of carriers.
  • A continued shortage of cross-functionally experienced supply chain management professionals, particularly in middle management areas across the globe.
  • Turmoil among global currencies impact supplier contracts.
  • Rising labor and manufacturing costs in China and other parts of Asia.
  • Continued cross-industry pollination of supply chain management professionals across industry boundaries. (CPG and High Tech, High Tech and CPG in Pharmaceutical, ….) This will lead to continued diversity of thought and process innovation.

Needless to state, 2012 will no doubt be a very challenging and invigorating year for global supply chain management.


Our complete research report which outlines all ten predictions in a single document is now available for no obligation free download in our Research Center.  (Listed as We only request that you provide some basic registration data including name, email, role and phone contact.  All information remains confidential and no salesperson will call. We also do not sell our registration lists to any third parties.

Readers are encouraged to share observations and added predictions from your industry and functional lenses.

As we formally enter the end-of-year holiday season of celebrations, we take this opportunity to wish all of our Supply Chain Matters readers a peaceful holiday and rewarding New Year.

Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor

© 2011 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and the Supply Chain Matters, All rights reserved.