Whether they are consumers or businesses, customers today have unlimited access to information, which can be shared instantly around the world. As a result, they want transparency and simplicity in how they order. They’re using social networks, mobile devices, websites and influencers to make buying decisions. And they’re using social media to broadcast their opinions.

All this makes it very tough on manufacturers. In particular, these raised expectations have significant implications for how manufacturers should run their supply chains.

Recognizing this, we recently worked with IBM Corp. to revamp key end-to-end supply chain processes. We recognized that an outstanding customer experience is more than just making ordering easier; it requires a fully aligned supply chain to ensure complete satisfaction from the order to fulfillment to invoicing and post-sales service.

We’re leveraging IBM’s Smarter Commerce as an important element in our drive to create a world-class supply chain. Under that strategy, we’re using IBM’s unified integration platform to improve significantly the way Lenovo does business with its various trading partners and customers, resulting in a more highly synchronized supply chain.

This has enabled us to transform three parts of our business:

  1. We’ve implemented a new direct ship enablement program that allows us to integrate new partners quickly to meet new demand.
  2. We’ve also added a new capability that we call “sell on the water,” which allows us to allocate product to customers while a ship is in transit.
  3. And finally, going forward, we have an end-point vision to leverage the platform to go fully “touch-less” in order processing. In this vision, there would be no scenarios requiring manual intervention, regardless of how a customer places an order.