The notion of business and supply intelligence is not new. It is available in the minds of key people, but is not well diffused to the users. There is tremendous value in sharing, across a whole company, proprietary insights into competitors, customers, products, supply market conditions, mergers, research and the like. As Lowell Bryan, a director at McKinsey & Company, notes, "An individual's knowledge is self-contained, always available. But in companies, including small ones, it can be hard to exploit the valuable knowledge in the heads of even a few hundred employees, particularly if they are scattered in different directions."
It is even more difficult to collect information across a supply chain network when the individuals are not located within the confines of the organization. Bryan notes that the typical approaches used to diffuse knowledge involve: 1) big investments in document management services, 2) pushing knowledge to workers using large Web sites or 3) letting organizational units solve their knowledge problems in a decentralized manner, by allowing clusters of workers to share information using whatever technology solutions they prefer.
Unfortunately, all three of these approaches have major downsides that prove to be ineffective. Even organizations that succeed in developing supply market intelligence systems face another problem getting decision-makers to apply the knowledge and use it in an effective manner.
Source: Inside Supply Management, http://www.ism.ws/pubs/ISMMag/ismarticle.cfm?ItemNumber=18451
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