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.
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 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.
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.
 Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world; POSTED JUN 2012; TEDGlobal 2012
 The Economist, Special Report – Outsourcing & Offshoring, Jan 19th, 2013