“Competimates” – Competitors Become Collaborators

By Rosemary Coates, President of Blue Silk Consulting
August 13, 2013 - SCMR Editorial

I learned a new term this week: “competimates.”

This word is commonly used in the aerospace and defense industries to describe companies that compete, but also work together from time to time to provide solutions to customers. This is particularly important in A&D where research and collaboration are required for complete integrated solutions such as a satellite or a submarine.
It seems like “competimates” is a fitting term for supply chains, too.

A company could outsource much or all of its logistics to external 3PLs.  But what if a company used the services of two competing 3PLs and asked them to work together to operate one warehouse? One 3PL may have its own trucks and the other may have a superior inventory management system. Together they provide a robust service to their customer.  What if they engaged a Customs Broker and made this a Bonded warehouse?  What if two suppliers that compete with one another for some products, also supply some products to each other? These competitors become collaborators or “competimates.” 

You get the picture.

This kind of expected collaboration among supply chain companies is happening more often.  Unique and unexpected alliances between competitors may be required to optimally serve complex supply chain needs. But we know from history, that supply chain collaborations can often be a very bumpy path. Both sides jockey for control and the advantage to get the most work, while they try to build customer loyalty and maximize revenues.  Conflicts may remain unresolved and ultimately, the customer is affected.

Here are some best practices in handling competimates and avoiding the bumpy path:

• Make sure all parties clearly understand the overall strategy and goals – don’t leave any party in the dark.  It is best if everyone understands the direction you are heading and works towards achieving it.

• Set up clear and meaningful KPIs that will require collaboration between the parties and reflect what you determine are priorities.  You get what you measure, and if you are measuring the collaboration and not the individual parts, you will get that collaboration.

• Respect the individual goals of the partners and help them to achieve their goals together with your goals.  For example, if your supply chain partners have target profit margins, help them achieve their margins through incentives and performance to your goals.

I think we will continue to see more and more “competimates” in complex global supply chains.  We should adopt this very descriptive term.

About the Author

Rosemary Coates
President of Blue Silk Consulting
Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and 42 Rules for Superior Field Service and The Reshoring Guidebook. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about Reshoring.

Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Companies used to compete on price and service. The future of supply chain, according to Steve Melnyk, is culture. In fact, innovators like Apple, Google, and Unilever are already leading because of their cultures. Your company can too.

As evidenced by the widening gap in the United States trade deficit, which has seen imports far outpacing exports for years on end, the September edition of the “Global Trade Pulse” from global maritime and trade consultancy Hackett Associates paints a similar picture for trade activity in North America, with some overlapping themes apparent in the report’s European data, too.

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities recently voiced his endorsement of this trade legislation

While many auto executives expect more industry recalls in 2015 and 2016, just 8 percent use advanced predictive analytics to help prevent, prepare for, and manage recalls, according to a recent online poll from Deloitte.

Purolator white paper highlights common Canadian shipping mistakes. From failing to appreciate the complexity of the customs clearance process to not realizing that Canada recognizes both French and English as its official languages, U.S. businesses frequently misjudge the complexity of shipping to the Canadian market. This often results in mistakes - mistakes that can come with hefty penalties and border clearance delays, and that can result in lingering negative perceptions among Canadian consumers.

Article Topics

Blogs · 3PL · Supply Chain · Management · All topics

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. Patrick covers international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. Contact Patrick Burnson


Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.