It’s easy to think of every business as a linear supply chain with very easy advertising by saying “Buy Our Product and You’ll Feel Great!”. However, after a working at my internship, I noticed several elements that differed from what was taught by the professors and $300 textbooks. In the world of digital supplying and industrial marketing, there’s a lot to learn outside of classroom.

At my company, we’re operating a digital supply chain rather than a traditional supply chain. In the example of a traditional supply chain as show below, courtesy of the Control Tower Course Website, we can only see the elements of supply chain only interact with other elements; a customer has no communication with a supplier while the producers only are concerned with the suppliers and distributors. Several limitations noted on the control tower course website are that the supply chain isn’t transparent, flexible,  or collaborative as it’s digital counterpart. While it may be more linear and simpler, that doesn’t mean it’s a better system for a business or its customers, not when communication and collaboration take a bigger role in our tech-filled-world

Fast forward to the introduction of the internet, smartphone, social media, and the quick flow of information. The control tower site visualizes the digital supply chain as a beautiful interactive web governed by a central control tower not only overseeing but also connecting all elements of the supply chain. While not every business may utilize a control tower, all elements in the digital supply chain can communicate observe and plan with each other very easily. With standard for shipping quality products getting higher and higher, it’s almost essential a that all business start setting up digital supply chains to fulfill those standards.

Additionally, while some businesses have started moving toward digital supply chains, there are still the issue of marketing your products; Industrial marketing isn’t as stressed as much consumer marketing according to MPC President Michael Collins in an Industry week article:

“Understanding the difference between industrial and consumer marketing is very important for manufacturing companies, particularly those companies that manufacturer custom or highly engineered products. But there are very few places to go to learn the techniques.”

Industrial marketing differs heavily from consumer marketing  in several ways; most industries sell by RFQs rather that straightforward advertising; the data and information of marketing niches is “is very difficult to acquire, is generally qualitative, and requires considerable industrial experience to gather” according to President Collins. Industrial marketing calls for an understanding of complex technical roles and management of long selling processes that, according to Collin and my personal experience in business and marketing classes, are concepts not taught enough in colleges

While colleges may not stress on these topics due to the fact that several companies don’t require their employees to operate a digital supply chain or learn industrial marketing, students and employees would benefit greatly as they would have the ability to work in the digital/industrial industry after they graduate.