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Using crowdsourcing to spruce up the supply chain


Last year I wrote about a report by the logistics company DHL that was advocating significantly better collaboration between companies over supply chain type issues.  The collaboration they talk about is not just confined to the usual innovation related topics, but on sharing warehousing space or transport networks.  They cite the example of French retailer Carrefour sharing warehousing space with other retailers.

This was followed up by a research paper released earlier this year that spoke on the same topic.  The research, split across two papers, argues that a lack of collaboration between big players at either end of the supply chain is preventing companies from gaining efficiencies in a whole host of areas.

Of course, both of these examples are around more traditional alliances and partnerships throughout the supply chain, whereby partnerships are struck between entities that are known to one another.  The John Lewis Partnership here in the UK announced recently that they want to go one step further than that, and start working more effectively with entities of which they have no prior knowledge.

I’m talking of course about crowdsourcing.  Paul Bestford, their recently appointed procurement director told Supply Management magazine recently of his desire for the organization to make much more use of crowdsourcing as a means of finding the best solution to their procurement challenges.

“There are certain areas of spend that make a direct difference to our customers, whether it’s the look and feel of our stores or our marketing programmes,” he said. “Where crowdsourcing works really well is you can identify a very specific problem, issue or opportunity and you post that problem on a sourcing platform and offer a prize to the person who comes up with the best solution. That for us is a very attractive vehicle for identifying innovation quickly.”

The aim is to use crowdsourcing to rapidly improve their procurement processes, which Bestford admitted were at a relatively primitive stage.

The company are, of course, no strangers to crowdsourcing.  They’ve been using Crowdicity for a couple of years now, facilitating conversations between their partners, employees and so on.  It will be interesting to see how they utilize crowdsourcing to bolster their supply chain.

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