Today, proactivity is a requirement within the supply chain world—an industry that cannot afford to be anything but opportunistic. In the sharing economy, we receive networked opportunities for business that might not exist in a different ecosystem. This network of networks has taken the supply chain world by storm, encouraging companies to leverage digital and physical capabilities in a way unlike before. However, many are not taking advantage of this unique economy as well as they should be.

Despite 26% of industry professionals dismissing the inherent benefit of taking part in the sharing economy, it is in fact, a supply chain strategy that is just beginning to develop. To leverage the sharing economy, your supply chain must be expertly managed and optimized to balance risk and reward, all while marrying digital, physical and human resources.

Here’s how to leverage the sharing economy for the benefit of your supply chain:

Foster strategic partnerships with high-performing suppliers and distributors. The sharing economy relies on the relationship between category decision makers and their supply chain partners. No grocer, food manufacturer or restaurant can act as an island. It takes a village, and category leaders will need to continue developing strategic relationships, exchanging vital information and sharing feedback that can be used to foster a truly collaborative partnership.

Faced with evolving consumer needs, shifting industry trends and the almost frantic desire for all things new—new products, new promotions, new ways to buy and deliver—too many supply chain leaders diminish profitability with a subjective assessment of their supply chain. By using a platform to manage sourcing and supply chain, grocers, food manufacturers and restaurants can capture data on each piece of the supply chain, from where products are sourced to cost and margin forecasts and from available capacity and commodity trends to inventory at various locations. Technology today has made it possible for industry leaders to leverage this real-time information to protect the top line from lost sales and the bottom line from obsolete product.

The risks of defecting from the sharing economy. The risks of ignoring the sharing economy in the supply chain industry will become monumental over time. As industry leaders craft a supply chain strategy that marries digital, physical and human resources, the gap between those who have adopted this forward-thinking mindset and those who have not will widen.

The food industry is moving quicker than ever; flexibility and agility are the keys to bringing confidence to the supply chain, provided in part by leveraging the sharing economy. Planning with efficiency and addressing ever-changing consumer needs while controlling costs requires both robust technology and strong leadership. Innovation happens when supply chain leaders are focused on the company’s overall business goals, armed with visibility and supported by technology-driven collaboration.