Supply chain network in LinkedIn map

In January the Dutch logistics world was dominated by Social Media. The Logistic Management association took it as its theme for its annual members get-together. The next day the recruitment and advise bureau, BLMC discussed the same subject at its network meeting. During these sessions delegates received practical explanations about LinkedIn and opinions about the sense and nonsense of Twitter.

Several different people commented to me that as an active online networker I probably knew everything already. But during these two days I also heard useful new things. For example, how Tweetdeck can provide a very handy overview of interesting messages on specific subjects on Twitter. Or, that you can have a subscription to LinkedIn Questions for an overview of questions asked about supply chain management under the subject Business Operations.

But just when you think you are reasonably up to date when it comes to Social Media, along comes something new. I read that LinkedIn has a new function which allows you to visualise your own Connections network on a map. I immediately tried it. I watched LinkedIn importing all my links, one by one into an application. “That will take some time if it’s going to include all my 2,834 connections,” I thought. Absolutely! LinkedIn very quickly reported that my network was too big and that they would send me an email when my personal network map was ready.

After I’d fetched some coffee and was sitting at my desk again I noticed that LinkedIn  had already sent an email with the message that the “Map of Martijn Lofvers” was ready. This personal network map, which I’ve made publically accessible for everyone, looks very impressive. It looks like some psychedelic lamp, made up of antennae with luminous colours at the ends. But it also resembles an aircarrier’s destination map, the flights show in arches through the sky. But instead of an airport, Martijn Lofvers is the central hub. It doesn’t only show the connections from me. You can also see the links between the destinations. Fascinating!

With LinkedIn’s new function of complex network maps Social Media comes closer to supply chain management and Network Design.  It won’t be long before you can visually obtain the optimal route within a network with an internet application such as LinkedIn, and completely free. If LinkedIn eventually adds the missing question in the personal profile, “To who do you report?” it will be possible to illustrate the complete organisation of a company. And if you add the relationships between peers in different companies it will be possible to schematically visualise entire chains. Put these companies in supply chains in Google Maps and you can optimally and logically visualise the chain. This will improve discussions in the boardroom where often supply chains are seen as illogical and vague. The directors will also see the value of Social Media and a link to improving the supply chain.

Martijn Lofvers, Publishing Director & Chief Editor, Supply Chain Magazine and Supply Chain Movement