The Social Enterprise – The Newest Tool for Manufacturers and Distributors?

As the Social Media Specialist for SYSPRO USA, I am always on the lookout for new trends and updates in the social media world, especially how these trends impact the manufacturing and distribution industries. I’m a firm believer that Social Media is one of the greatest tools a company can use for engagement with customers and consumers. I once had a colleague here ask me if I think organizations will ever adopt social media as a way for employees to communicate internally.

In fact, the concept was first proposed back in 2006, as Enterprise 2.0. Just a few weeks later I came across two separate articles discussing this exact concept, and how the adoption of these social websites will directly impact manufacturers, distributors and their supply chains. The first article takes a close look at internal social networking websites concentrated on communication within businesses.

The article states: “The idea of the social enterprise seems simple: use social networking tools like Yammer that have Facebook and Twitter-like characteristics and capabilities to let employees communicate internally, crowdsource ideas and solve problems, collaborate on projects, and share information and documents. The tools provide discussion forums, micro-blogging, wikis, idea-generation capabilities, and document sharing as well as tagging, rating, and reviewing of content.”

The concept of this social enterprise is not only aiming to assist businesses with their internal communication, but also with company analysis. The social enterprise will give executives insight into vital information about how their organizations run on a daily basis, which will allow them to discuss how this information will be used. The goal is to allow executives a first-hand look at the inner workings of their Supply Chain and, as a result, improve efficiency. So, in effect, Social Media is also having a direct impact on the manufacturing Supply Chain.

The second article I found relating to this concept discusses the possibility of solving supply chain issues by allowing employees to discuss an organization’s daily operations on internal social media websites. “Through social media, more people can be reached regardless of geography or time zones, and businesses can interact online via a common discussion board. Highlighting problems, finding solutions and bringing in new ideas altogether leads towards better productivity in the long-run and creates a more profitable business for everyone involved in the supply chain,” the article states. The use of a social enterprise can also improve communication between departments that may not normally cross paths, as discussion forums allow employees to collaborate and share problem solving ideas.

In 2011, a poll of 250 senior-level manufacturing executives found that more than 66% of respondents said that within the next five years, their companies would be embracing a collaborative organizational model like the “social enterprise.” What do you think? Will manufacturers and distributors adopt these social media communication platforms? Should they create their own social networking websites or use their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications to communicate? Let us know what you think about the social enterprise phenomenon.

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