If you’re curious about learning the basics of Supplier Connection — as well as our argument about why I think the site could very well be an exercise in contradictory futility — you can turn to Part 1 and Part 2 of this post. In this final installment, I’ll don an optimist hat and suggest some things that would make Supplier Connection attractive to large Fortune 500 buying organizations. Without further ado, let’s quickly dig into the list of five procurement value-focused recommendations:
First, Supplier Connection would be a huge boon to procurement if it included more than just self-nominated supplier profile information and requested registration details. If it could validate and provide real-time data from qualified third-party sources about TIN look-ups, diversity status, risk ratings (based on a combination of D&B, Equifax or related information in tandem with news feeds, social network-derived information such as hiring/layoffs as judged via Linked-in trends, etc.) and related information, I could see this being a highly used tool. Moreover, if procurement did not have to pay to look-up/confirm diversity, risk and other information on other suppliers not in the system, they’d also be more likely to use it.
Secondly, Supplier Connection should provide a low-cost or free means of exchanging procurement transactional data between buyers and suppliers. This move would also make the eco-types at the IBM foundation excited by potentially reducing huge amounts of paper and mail. Supplier Connection could enable this by hooking directly into Ariba, SAP, Oracle and other large company purchasing systems and would provide a means to circumvent larger and larger network fees being charged to suppliers.
Third, Supplier Connection would be valuable if it truly established a standard or supplier registration/profile information details across all large companies (a handful is not enough). Much as small and large, elite and non-elite universities are taking the Common Application for prospective students, Supplier Connection could function in very much the same way. This could also lead to a standardized metaphorical SAT/ACT qualification test (e.g., online ISO or other quality surveys) that would do wonders for fueling supplier quality and development initiatives today…