LIVE from OG: Dell Describes the Sustainable Supply Chain..Relational, not Transactional

Posted on 11. Nov, 2011 by in Business & Policy, Collaboration

The thing about sustainability is that it makes for interesting bedfellows. Mushrooms and computers. Insurance companies and supply chains. Social media and customers. Dell’s Oliver Campbell spoke about each of these to emphasize the transformation of supply chains from transactional to relational during today’s “Supply Chain Management: Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges” workshop.

“Thinking about relationships beyond your business and customers creates very exciting opportunities,” said Campbell with a backdrop image of interlocking ripples in a Japanese rock garden behind him. Dell takes this into practice through its relationships with supplies and innovative new programs. Cambell spent the first part of this week during Dell’s annual brainstorming session with suppliers in the company’s Austin headquarters to plan their current and future supply chain. Their sourcing programs include innovative material such as mushroom, bamboo, and milk jug packaging. Since 2009, Dell has used enough milk jugs in its packaging to stretch the width of the United States.

Several trends facilitate this transition to a more relational and circular supply chain. Cambell presented a map produced by insurer Munich Re that highlighted the 355 natural disaster events in the first six months of 2011. “Natural disasters have significant impact on supply chain,” said Campbell as he explained how he created a mini-supply chain to send goods from U.S. supermarkets to family isolated in Japan after the tsunami.

The second trend supporting supply chain greening is recycling. “Wow, the United States produces a lot of trash. We’re like the Saudi Arabia of trash,” said Campbell, framed by mounds of recycled cardboard in the picture behind him. He stated that the future is one of treasure from trash: it’s increasingly likely that the materials of the future will come from somebody else’s trash.

The final trend is social media. “It’s about establishing a relationship with customers or stakeholders. IT becomes personal.” He explained how the Dell social media department received a complaint from a UK customer who received 32 screws in 32 envelopes. Earlier, Dell operations believed it resolved the problem, but by working with IT, social media, and operations they were able to fix it. Social media increases the number of people watching and opens the door to new forms of interaction with suppliers and customers.

Will the successful companies of the future be those, like Dell, who are figuring out how to relate to suppliers in new ways, build in cirucularity, and increase resilience to natural disasters? The answer is yes.

2 Responses to “LIVE from OG: Dell Describes the Sustainable Supply Chain..Relational, not Transactional”

  1. dorrsaff

    15. Nov, 2011

    @Oliver_Campbell i’m trying to contact you, could you follow me to send you a DM ?

  2. packagingdiva

    15. Nov, 2011

    @Oliver_Campbell RT @IMFAmoldedfiber: Bamboo fiber 4 molding protective #packaging is now in use 4 a number of products http://t.co/ANFn1ffj

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