Open Sourcing

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See also: Open Supply Chain


Rob J Bell:

"Open source applications are exploring full circle features that will enable partners along the supply chain to track and trace returns. This is reverse logistics and it is estimated that this is worth an annual £5.75 billion. Professor John Cullen of the University of Sheffield Management School and Professor Mike Bernon of Cranfield have led research highlighting how some companies see up to 30% of their products returned by customers. Managing these returns incurs substantial costs through logistics, inventory and disposal, yet many companies still employ inadequate processes for dealing with returns. With factors such as the growth of eTailing, shortening product life cycles and, with the frontiers of global outsourcing pushing into various tiers of supply open source can help to make the transparency required affordable. It is worth a closer look.

As we look at end-to-end supply chains and how collaborative behaviours can help the thought occurs that this may be the opportunity to explore management accounting and work with the Majority World. After all, if we focus ERP and the formal parts of the supply chain we will miss huge chunks of data that provides the full picture. Is this an area to explore further?

From Facebook to Friendster, social networking and the open sharing of information has burst on into our lives on an unprecedented scale and this is transforming insights into all sorts of demand. For example, Cadbury bowed to public pressure after 93 Facebook groups called for the return of Wispa and, as news of the recent Mumbai shootings illustrated, twitter is providing frontline news from informal sources rather than through conventional news reports. As we consider ways in which to access new markets in the Majority World, we should explore how such emerging technologies can help to shape forecasting techniques for all sorts of products and services in the developing and emerging world.

The sheer affordability of open sourcing can transform logistics and open up multiple options for supply chains throughout the developing and emerging world. Elsewhere we have noted the major role of SMEs throughout the developed and emerging world and, the need to explore what Barry Nalebuff terms as coopetition amongst them could be a major engine for growth out of the current crisis. Coopetition is where companies cooperate rather than compete challenging the baseline rules and operating assumptions. The ideas have been shaped by game theory and could have an even greater impact in the current crisis.

There is something else that is only just taking hold. Such connectivity and sharing behaviour can liberate creative energies amongst the bored underemployed as well as the unemployed to design products that people actually need to improve their lives. Add this collective insight into the minds of the market to production capacity worldwide. We would see far less superfluous packaging and fewer me-too products. And this would make a revolutionary contribution to efforts to create green supply chains as the collective will could be put to the task. It may even be the source of transparency needed to scale up the data to measure impact." (

More Information

  1. Sourcemap
  2. Video: Connie Kwan and Matt Hockenberry on Mapping Our Footprint via Sourcemap