Supply Chains and Distribution Channels (B2B) really don’t talk to each other

The IBM Study (Accessed February 2009) points out that visibility and risk are important concerns of supply chain managers. The summary of the report  suggests that companies seem to be more in touch with their suppliers than their customers when it comes to aligning supply with demand. More bluntly the buy side and the sell side have little clue about what’s developing on either side of the firm’s value chain.

The stark differences in orientation,training and lack of communication between the market end of a company (the B2B end or distribution end) and its back end supply chain function is intriguing. There was a time when these functions were combined together as a “commercial” function which went out of fashion in the late eighties and business school academia,consulting companies and companies themselves pigeon holed sales, marketing and distribution in one bunch and the the supply chain,materials,logistics and procurement as another bunch of functions. If the CEO didn’t actively promote the communication and co-operation between these functions – you landed up with things like the mortgage mess. Those coming up with derivatives never really needed to understand the different types of mortgages that were actually being given out.

ERP systems and particularly Web 2.0 applications will hopefully help better coordination in organizations and till they  kick in – some old fashioned “talking” between the marketing and supply functions should help keep the value chain straight.

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