The flow of information can be daunting for most of us. Wherever we go, our senses are flooded with visuals and texts. The advent of social media has helped to make the distribution even more widespread and in some cases transparent. But for all the complaints about information overload, nothing beats having the right information at the right time especially when it comes to daily supply chain operations.
The lack of visibility and information is a common problem for many warehouse and inventory managers within the four walls and beyond. But properly managed information can bring financial rewards for the quick thinking. For example, ARC Advisory posted about yesterday's water main break in Boston and the impact on Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts at Logan Airport. It goes without saying that running a coffee business without water is a logistical nightmare. For Starbucks, it meant no coffee and no customers, while Dunkin Donuts served all the customers it could all because of a little information. The crew at Dunkin combined some knowledge with a bit of ingenuity and managed to buy cases of water from the supermarket, while Starbucks, well, didn't.
Clearly, the Dunkin staff heard about the break and reacted accordingly. How they heard about it is probably subject to debate, but the proliferation of information sources available via social media (Twitter, Facebook) beat out traditional sources (newspaper, TV). The ability to access and share information anywhere at any time via mobile device is what separates the successful companies from the mediocre ones. In the Dunkin and Starbucks situation, the water main break disrupted their supply chains in a way neither expected. But then again, who thought a volcano would do the same thing to Europe a few weeks ago?