Collaboration – One small step.. A big operating advantage

Collaboration is powerful! Dan Tapscott, in his TED talk, explains how starlings, small birds, can take on larger predators when they fly in formation with hundreds or thousands of other starlings[1].

To date, the word ‘collaboration’ has been used profusely in business text and talk. However, we have barely moved the needle in product innovation, production and distribution that smart collaboration can result in. This is surprising given the transformation that has taken place in the technology world – from a ‘desktop centered’ to an ‘internet-enabled’ consumption, creation and distribution of information –that is fairly ubiquitous world-wide.

Poor responsiveness of far-flung supply-chains

A recent Economist Special Report[2] highlights how poor responsiveness becomes a big Achilles heel in extended supply chains with offshored or outsourced manufacturing. It points out how GE home appliances and Chesapeake Bay Candle have decided to ‘reshore’ manufacturing operations back to the US (from manufacturing sites in China and Mexico), to become “more responsive”.

In 1999, I had the opportunity of designing supply chain collaboration software for companies such as HP and Dell. However, the promise remained unfulfilled, due, in big part to the relative immaturity of internet technologies. That has completely changed in the last 8-10 years. As a part of a startup – Zyom – we have been hard at work trying to realize this dream of internet enabled smart collaboration.

At a recent webinar hosted by Zyom, Fred Harried, VP of Operations at Ruckus Wireless, explained – how collaboration was one of the key factors that enabled him to scale his Operations several X in the last 4 years, and how Zyom’s MozartCC system was a key collaboration enabler. Attached is a brief 6 minutes overview of some of the Q&A highlights from the webinar[3].

This example highlights how a small step – the innovative use of internet for collaboration across partners provided a boost to a startup in handling changes much faster, ensuring low inventory exposure for all supply network partners – a true Win-Win.

We are at the very early stages of utilizing the huge untapped potential of the internet for connected enterprises, their value chains and beyond – Collaboration may indeed be a disruptive advantage for Operations… more on that in the next blog.

Drop a line – Do you think collaboration could provide a competitive advantage? Fuel growth? Be a Disruptor? Or, none of the above.

[1] Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world; POSTED JUN 2012; TEDGlobal 2012

[2] The Economist, Special Report – Outsourcing & Offshoring, Jan 19th, 2013

[3] ZyomTV – Scaling Operations-Zyom Webinar Q&A Highlights (Dec 7, 2012)

Author: Rakesh Sharma

President and Founder of Zyom, Inc. Zyom is committed to making Companies and their Value Networks Demand Responsive, while maintaining the tricky balance with Profitability

3 thoughts on “Collaboration – One small step.. A big operating advantage”

  1. From an email exchange with Dr. Chaman Jain, St. John’s University –
    To: Rakesh Sharma
    Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:07 PM
    Subject: RE: Collaboration – One small step.. A big operating advantage


    I read your blog, though not quite sure about the objective. First, there has to be a problem, and then we look for a solution. I neither sees the problem clearly defined, nor the solution. It is without any question collaboration is most important because it provides access to the POS data, which tell us how the market is responding to our product. You don’t have to guess anymore, you know on a daily basis how market is responding. In the case of new products, customer can give you its own assessment, which can be helpful. Technology can play a very important part if it can handle this huge amount of data and make a sense out of it—for forecasting and data mining.

    Maybe you had something else in your mind. If this is the case, let me know.


    My response to to Dr. Jain’s comments –
    To: Chaman Jain
    Subject: Re: Collaboration – One small step.. A big operating advantage

    Dr. Jain
    I appreciate your comments.
    Your comments will be definitely helpful in framing the next blog entry that I was planning on this topic.

    The blog itself was more of a high level take on the fact that despite the preponderance of internet technology, its use in ‘collaboration’ has been limited.
    emails, internet-based folders (e.g., dropbox, goog-drive, etc. are just the tip of what is possible with these technologies.

    The problems which can be solved are limited only by our experience and imagination – the specific video clip on the blog site is about one of our biggest success stories – that of helping a company grow from a very early stage when their Supply Chain was still being defined, into a public company now – in this case we utilized our internet-native system to facilitate a process of closer coordination and communication between the Product company (Ruckus Wireless) and all their Contract Manufacturers & ODMs.
    Before utilizing a supply-chain collaboration solution – they were sending emails back and forth, and incurring all the issues that such an exchange of files leads to.
    smaller companies cannot afford expensive EDI, or other large-company remedies.. this is what is exciting about solutions such as what we have implemented at Ruckus.

    More specifics in a followup – which I plan to put out shortly.

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Warm Regards


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