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Is procurement under attack on social media?

Social media when there's a procurement problem image

Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.

To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.

Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.

Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.

“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis,” Lewis says.

Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.

“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”

People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he says.

Steven Lewis

If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.

“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”

In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”

It’s important to respond online, he says.

“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”

Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views, he says.

“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”

Get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media, he says.

“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”

However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he says.

“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted,” Lewis warns.

Meanwhile in London… (at the World Procurement Congress)

Credit: Steve Budd (@stevembudd)
Credit: Steve Budd (@stevembudd)

The World Procurement Congress 14 as told by Twitter.

Over 19-20 May London played host to the World Procurement Congress. Now in its second year the event brought together CPOs and thinkers in procurement and supply chain management from all over the world.

Here is what attendees have been saying about it on Twitter:

@AlanGleeson Standing room only for Bernd Huber & David Natoff from Google #WPC Prioritisation a key challenge.NB of category knowledge & responsiveness

@XchProcurement Where do #TailEndSpend savings come from? – Spend reclassification, compliance, demand management and automated processes, says Olivier

@HarryJohn_PL #WPC performance roundtable hosted by @Beroe_inc. Want to empower #procurement? Align with finance.

@AlanHollandCork Cynthia Dautrich talks about unleashing the power of the supply base at The World Procurement Congress

@LizmaffeiPL More great insights from Cynthia Dautrich: Experience drives 70% of learning ability, exposure drives 20% & education final component

@Nightingale_PL Women in Procurment…leave perfection at the front door #WPC

@AlanGleeson Hans Melotte CPO @JNJNews advocates greater diversity amongst the #procurement community

‏@markperera 4-5 trillion of spend represented at the World Procurement Congress – wow

@stevembudd The word procurement will disappear in 10 years…CPOs will turn into Value Creation Officers. Clive Heal at Roche #wpc

‏@HarryJohn_PL  How can we make it easier to work with #procurement? @Beroe_inc on the merits of an external view on performance.

@tburt85  Save The Children tell #WPC breakout session that 90% of products it buys are sourced locally.

The Big Question: Could you live in a world without the iPhone?

A wrinkle in Apple’s supply chain could spell doom for the technology giant. Procurious wonders whether we ought to be worried.

The announcement of a new iPhone/iPad is the stuff of headline news the world over. Apple is one of the most respected titans in the hardware industry, its products have a stranglehold over the hearts and minds of millions (in-fact the level of fanaticism is downright spooky). OK there may be the odd misstep (lest we forget the Apple Maps debacle), but with its impressive track record and market dominance – Apple’s products represent go-to gadgets of choice for most businesses and consummate professionals the world over.

The iPhone’s and iPad’s ability to blend effortlessly into your (doubtless) existing Apple ecosystem makes a world without this modern staple unthinkable to many, but a worrying new report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times hints at dark days ahead for everyone’s favourite fruit.

The rumour mill says we can expect to see two new iPhones (iPhone 6) in the not-too-distant future. According to the paper however, production on the larger (5.5-inch) iPhone handset could be delayed until 2015 due to difficulties in sourcing a supplier for the super-thin 2mm battery. Apple’s tough ask involves shrinking their existing battery technology by a considerable 33% – such a demand puts suppliers under immense strain and will almost certainly affect the production cycle, the effects of which will reverberate the length of the chain.

There’s a convincing argument here for the power of the brand – at this stage in its heritage, Apple’s customers will happily wait for the next-generation to arrive in their hands. But how does this make you feel as procurement professionals – can you sympathise with the situation or this unrelenting thirst for innovation a reckless and dangerous play?

We must wonder too what this could mean for Apple. Can we expect to go through the same motions a few more years down the line – a couple more supply problems, a few more delays? If so disillusionment could surely (and will easily) set in. Look at the once mighty darling of enterprise – BlackBerry. Poor components and overall build-quality affected both the Storm and PlayBook, while delays to BlackBerry software and unsold inventory effectively unseated this once proud King.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – recent iPhone sales figures point to strong Apple earnings. Overall Apple saw a 4.6% increase in quarterly revenue, far-and-away beating Wall Street expectations. However iPad shipments were shown to be on the decline (an almost 20% drop – ouch), and with the company soon to enter the wearables marketplace we wonder whether Cupertino’s finest is starting to spread itself too thin…

We must remember that Apple is also forging ahead and reporting success in BRIC countries – the iPhone has just set sales records in Brazil, Russia, India and China. And with competitor Nokia also looking to developing markets to consolidate their rule, such space could prove quite the battleground in the fight for market dominance. Whatever the outcome, the future looks set to be very interesting indeed…

Are Apple’s products still the apple of your eye? Join in with the discussion! Leave your comments below.