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The shift to growth-oriented initiatives is causing companies to reach outside the enterprise to collaborate with others in their supply ecosystem. This multi-enterprise collaboration (MEC) is the technique by which organizations are able to progress along the path toward visible business. Its components involve the availability, analysis, and application of information to generate worth. In recent articles, we provided examples of MEC in action in the supply chain. Here, we turn our attention to the challenges of making MEC a reality for your organization.



MEC ISN’T ALWAYS POSSIBLE

As promising as MEC is, and as many MEC opportunities as there are, there are a corresponding number of obstacles. The reality is that some information that is needed by one enterprise is considered highly confidential by its source. This is easily understandable.

However, there will be cases where the information that is needed has no associated security concerns, and yet, the source will still not provide it to the enterprise that needs/wants it. There are two logical explanations. First, the source of the information may not receive any benefit from providing the information to the “needy” recipient. Because the effort to make information available has some opportunity cost associated with it for the source, there is no incentive for them to allocate resources to this effort because there’s nothing in it for them.

The second occurs if the “needy” enterprise has no leverage over the source—in order to incline them to provide the desired information. If both conditions exist, the MEC opportunity will never be realized.

Below is a MEC Likelihood Assessment Table [Figure 1] that can be used to determine the viability of a MEC opportunity. We begin with the question “Is there information that if (1) made available in a timely manner, (2) analyzed efficiently, and (3) applied effectively would benefit you and/or others in your supply ecosystem?” This identifies the initial MEC opportunity.

For the information identified, we then enter it in the table and complete the remaining entries. Who has the information? Who needs it? Who benefits from the information being made available, analyzed, and applied effectively to the business? Who has leverage in the trading relationship? In situations where the company that has the information will benefit from providing it and/or the company needing the information has some degree of leverage over the source, the MEC opportunity is more likely to occur.

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