the doctor Gives You The Top Ten Marketing Ideas … err … The Top Ten Supply Chain Improvement Ideas That You Might Overlook

Chief Marketer recently ran an article titled Top Ten: Marketing Ideas To Consider in 2008 designed to help marketers, but, scanning it, I couldn’t help but notice that every idea was also applicable to your supply chain – in the right context of course. So, even though most of these wouldn’t be on my top ten supply management improvement ideas for 2008, I’m going to cover them anyway because they’re still good ideas – and some of them are actually quick hits that you’ll get immediate pay back from.

  • Time to Green
    Thanks, in part to Al Gore who has now invented the science of “global warming” as well as the internet, Green is on everyone’s lips these days. If your products aren’t green, you better find a clueless third world economy to sell into because you might find that, as more green alternatives hit the market, especially affordable ones, your products stop selling. Although we’re not quite to the point where it’s “Go Green or Go Home”, we’re getting close.
  • The Great Outdoors
    Get up, get out, pile in a high miles-per-gallon vehicle with the latest emission reducing technology (or at least a good catalytic converter in working order), and drive until you see nothing but trees, plains, or semi-desert. Then sit and observe nature for a day. Notice the balance and the cycle. Then go back to the office and kick your sustainability programs up a notch.
  • Get Game
    Gaming permeates society – and it does for a reason. It connects and entertains people at the same time. But, more importantly, as a few thought leading companies are starting to find out, it’s also a great training and communication tool. Instead of using the same “process” handbooks and “training” manuals, develop some customized games that help your new hires get to where you need them to be in a matter of weeks, instead of months or years. (Even oil companies are realizing that they can cut the training time required to prepare new hires to correctly and safely lay pipes in the oil-fields by two thirds with simulation gaming. Moreover, they are also finding that these new hires are more productive on their first day than those that used to get three months of dry class-room training.)
  • Mobile – I Can Hear You Now
    Take a clue from UPS and Fedex and give all of your logistics workers hand-held RFID scanners to help them more efficiently identify, track, and deliver your shipments on time.
  • Join the Club
    Use enterprise technology that takes the best (but not the worst – remember why the doctor remains faceless and spaceless) collaborative technology developments from today’s social networks to help you interact with your supply chain partners more productively.
  • Rise of the Widgets
    Select supply chain software that presents extensible APIs and configurable interfaces that you can use to customize the software to your needs.
  • Roll Video
    Your employees aren’t the only ones who don’t want dusty manuals. Communicate with your supplies using the full capabilities of today’s multi-media and video conferencing software. Send them training videos instead of training manuals when you need them to use your systems (or system interfaces) and hold visual conference calls now and again to help with team building.
  • From Behavioral to Contextual
    Stop focussing only on one-size-fits-all technology and process improvements and start looking for this-size-fits-me technology and process improvements occasionally. Some things just work better in context.
  • Focus on the Experience
    Just like consumers want to “feel good” when they buy from a retailer, your internal customers want to “feel good” when they work with you. Make working with the supply chain organization something everyone in the company wants to do.
  • … As-A Service
    The supply chain is becoming more and more service oriented – Software As-A Service, Logistics As-A Service, Warehousing As-A Service, etc. Those that master the new service-oriented approach first stand to gain the most.