The ART Of Business

Has Supply Chain Success Ruined Marketing?

Writing a new book is like going back to school. You’re always learning novel things; and, being challenged about what you think you know.

Tim Wilkinson and myself are currently writing the follow-up to our 2009 work THE DISTRIBUTION TRAP.

Throughout the process, a recurring theme has regularly -- and surprisingly -- come up. It has a lot to do with the success found in managing global supply chains.

There was a time, not that long ago, when it was assumed that a company would control their products and services at a level that made sense for them. Customers were viewed, like today, as vital. Customer relationships -- unpredictable and resilient (READ: human) -- were treated as such.

However, this approach might be waning.

Customers were not supposed to become so big that they could ultimately take over the business of their supplier. Yet, this is exactly what has happened time and time again in the past decades. And, much of this seemed to start when marketing began to operate like supply chain management: where scale and efficiency are the dominant objectives.

It appears the misapplication of proven supply chain principles to the realm of managing customer relationships is ultimately a race to dehumanize the natural interaction between customers and the providers of the products they buy.

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