tealbook is a CIX Top 20 Recipient

What is CIX?

CIX is a ‘must attend’ technology innovation destination where investors, innovative companies, entrepreneurs and facilitators converge to drive economic growth and accelerate the development and implementation of new ideas.

CIX was launched in 2008 by Canadian investors who wanted one destination which curates and showcases the best emerging tech companies from across Canada. Today, CIX is Canada’s largest gathering of tech entrepreneurs and capital providers with a mandate to foster business collaborations through both structured and informal networking opportunities, and to provide inspiring and informative high-level keynotes and panel discussions to explore opportunities and spark discussion and collaboration.*

*http://cixsummit.com/2017/about/

Why tealbook?

We’re excited to have been chosen as a CIX Top 20 Recipient. The award is given to companies who solve big challenges with innovative ideas.

The big challenge

Enterprises do not have centralized access to trusted, up to date intelligence about suppliers: current or otherwise. This creates cumbersome and costly delays in the sourcing and procurement process and often leads to friction within the enterprise. And this challenge is not limited to buyers. Suppliers struggle to put information about their capabilities in front of buyers when a business need arises.

The innovative idea

tealbook solves this challenge by providing its customers with a cloud-based supplier knowledge management platform. We allow the enterprise to quickly search their existing supplier master, discover new suppliers, and gain access to valuable market intelligence. In addition, the centralized supplier knowledge management platform captures knowledge inside the procurement function which may others would have been lost. Tealbook is building the largest and most trusted knowledge community of buyers and suppliers.

The Future

What tealbook will be able to offer moving forward is, in large part, a function of our users. We regularly learn from the buyers and suppliers that use our platform to collaborate and advance their business objectives.

We will continue to refine the supplier recommendation process using machine learning and trusted, collective intelligence.

Our Concierge team is constantly re-evaluating the value they offer to resource-constrained procurement teams, helping them move towards a decision faster without sacrificing contributions to their knowledge legacy.

If you are an enterprise procurement professional and would like to share your ideas about centralizing and using supplier intelligence, please let us know – we’d love to hear it!

The Upside of Supplier Intelligence

Overview

tealbook recently partnered with The Hackett Group to research the cost, effort, and business impact of supplier discovery and qualification. The resulting data became the foundation of a four-city series of executive roundtables focused on exploring and capturing the strategic impact of working collaboratively with the right suppliers and having easier access to peer knowledge.

Over the course of those four evenings, The Hackett Group data came alive through the diverse perspectives of over 40 procurement thought leaders. Their combined insights are now available in a new white paper, The Upside of Accessible Supplier Intelligence, that will be launched at the Procurious #BigIdeas Forum in Chicago.

In the paper, we address the transformative potential of supplier intelligence based on the themes we heard loud and clear from our executive participants, as well as discussion around the following points:

  • It requires an average of 180 sourcing events to manage each $1 B of spend, and it takes an average of 41 hours per event to identify & qualify suppliers
  • Over 60% of supplier discovery & qualification efforts are handled by category managers and senior category managers
  • Applying machine learning and peer-driven intelligence to this challenge creates a strategic opportunity to accelerate and improve supplier selection while increasing procurement’s total impact

Procurement must find a way to serve as a guardian of enterprise spend while aligning with the speed and expectations of the rest of the business. Having instant access to trusted, actionable intelligence will therefore be a mandatory piece of the procurement technology landscape in market leading companies.

As Phil Ideson (Art of Procurement), our moderator for all four cities, stated in one of the roundtables,

“…procurement is a function ripe for disruption. We have to be careful not to disrupt ourselves by being rooted on our traditional ways.”

Download the full white paper here!

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Delivering Trust

Editor’s note: Ian Woodbury is the COO of tealbook, and he has played a critical role in making sure that the trust at the heart of the company’s value proposition is also at the core of our organization. 
Building trust is simple. Promise to do something. Do it. Repeat.
The pace of modern business doesn’t leave much time for investing in something as intangible as trust – and yet we can’t function without it. Procurement teams are overwhelmed by requests both big and small – all of which were due yesterday. Being able to work with a pool of suppliers that we know and trust speeds up critical procurement processes, improves contribution to enterprise value, and prevents friction from forming between procurement and internal stakeholders.

Operating within the relatively safe confines of a trusted buyer-supplier relationship allows procurement to accomplish more (faster) without sacrificing quality.

Peer-driven supplier intelligence delivers a shortcut that procurement can bank on even when they are presented with a business need and little to no time for supplier discovery. tealbook’s mission is to accelerate the process of building a network of trusted supplier relationships before the time for a transaction arises. Just like getting a recommendation for a restaurant or a hair salon, peer-driven supplier intelligence increases our comfort level with inviting a supplier to a procurement event. It increases the chance that they will be credible and will deliver what the business needs. That is why peer recommendations are such a vital part of supplier identification. tealbook accelerates the process of gathering knowledge and makes it asynchronous so procurement can find the right suppliers without all the email chains, telephone tag, and voicemail limbo that destroy productivity and bloat cycle times.

We could all use more trusted relationships, but that’s a challenge because trust can take a long time to build and there isn’t a moment to spare.

Procurement needs to emphasize actionability in all processes and technology. Solutions can’t just store static info, they need to empower procurement and other internal buyers to make informed decisions based on the most up to date information available. This is no less true when the enterprise makes a purchase for the first time. Some requests are ‘one offs’ or first time buys, meaning that procurement has to act without the benefit of internal legacy knowledge.

The fact that demand is new does not allow additional time for a long, manual supplier discovery process. In order to build and maintain trust, procurement must live up to their promises and deliver on the business’ needs the first time, every time.

An additional note on trust:

We promised our investors that we could put out a next generation platform by August even though a number of people said it was impossible. We made that promise because our CTO, Geoff Peddle, said we could – and we trust him. He built an amazing team while also exceeding all our expectations with tealbook’s Next Generation which launched a few weeks ago. All of tealbook is focused on building trust with our customers, suppliers, partners, investors, and each other. Building trust is what we do. We make promises based on what is important to our stakeholders and then we deliver – every day. Many thanks to Ian for his own investments in building trust and for sharing the importance of that investment.

Having a Knowledge Retention & Management Plan

In a recent blog post, Zoe Meinecke of Openview Partners wrote about the symptoms that are present in organizations that lack a knowledge retention program. As she points out in the following quote, knowledge management is often more theoretical than it is practical, leaving leadership teams with a significant (and costly) void of actionable information.

“In theory, knowledge management should be integrated into the daily operations of every organization, proactively protecting what employees know long before they leave.”

– Zoe Meinecke, Openview Partners, July 24, 2017

Although there is always too much to do and not enough time to do it in, companies that don’t prioritize the capture of employee knowledge will feel its absence. In order to drive knowledge retention from theory to reality, it is critical to take an approach that makes knowledge capture easy and efficient and ensures that it can be accessed by others in the organization today and in the future.

Supplier information management is one of the key organizational processes that is negatively affected by the absence of a knowledge retention plan. This leads to a struggle scaling procurement’s impact, a lack of vision for applying knowledge, and breaks in operational continuity when it is needed most.

Scale: For vibrant organizations, effectively scaling can be a challenge along geographical lines or as a result of sheer numbers. Rather than relying on informal ‘many to many’ information sharing between teams and individuals, companies need to centralize and structure knowledge in a digital format where it can be searched from all locations and at all times of the day. If possible, one ‘master source’ should incorporate both internal and external or third-party knowledge to increase efficiency and trust.

Roadmap: Knowledge retention will not happen on its own. Instead, leadership teams need to put a plan in place to collect and apply intelligence. This requires both long-term investments in training and hiring and a near-term emphasis on the application of captured knowledge. In particular, anyone with management responsibility must consistently ask teams if they have consulted available knowledge resources before making new decisions and recommendations.

Legacy: If addressing scale makes knowledge actionable today and designing a roadmap lays out a path to the knowledge use of tomorrow, building a knowledge legacy ensures that procurement will prioritize intelligence into the future. Turnover and organizational changes are a given; the question is, how well will your team weather the shifts?

Institutionalizing the capture of knowledge is the best way to make its use a pervasive part of corporate culture. Rather than requiring another step, knowledge should be captured as it is created, immediately converted into an actionable resource for others in the organization.

Enterprises with a robust knowledge retention program solidify and strengthen their competitive position because they are able to make improved decisions faster in response to market shifts, emerging innovation, and supply chain disruption. The time to leverage knowledge is just around the corner – and the time to collect it is now.

Zoe Meinecke’s full blog post: “How to Capture, Manage and Use Institutional Knowledge to Boost Your Productivity.”

The Role of Supplier Intelligence in Elevating Procurement’s Impact

Greg Tennyson and I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Phil Ideson (The Art of Procurement Podcast) to talk about the primary findings of our Executive Roundtables held this past spring.

The Executive Roundtable dinners were attended by 40+ forward-thinking procurement executives from across the US and generated over 12 hours of engaging conversation around the Upside of Accessible Supplier Intelligence.

The foundation for the discussions came from a study we did in partnership with The Hackett Group to measure the time spent searching for and gathering data to identify and pre-qualify incumbent and new suppliers. This is still a highly tactical and manual process that often creates a bottleneck in the procurement process. As we learned from our study, qualifying suppliers can take 24 business days (or more) and the internal and external sources used are highly disaggregated.

When the business is looking for speed and agility, waiting for procurement to validate a qualified list of suppliers is largely perceived as a roadblock to achieving their goals. This friction in the process not only impacts procurement’s ability to add value but also to positively influence business decisions that can impact the top and bottom lines.

The unfortunate truth is, while procurement manually gathers intelligence about incumbent or new suppliers, stakeholders are waiting or worse… duplicating efforts in an attempt to speed things up. They often know their business better than their procurement colleagues and will quickly turn to their peers for supplier recommendations UNLESS procurement can quickly come to the table with valuable knowledge and a trusted list of qualified suppliers.

“If you don’t come to the business with intelligence and you need time to go and find it, that is when you become the bottleneck.  When you come with intelligence, you become a valued partner.” – Stephany Lapierre, tealbook

Without intelligence, procurement loses its ability to positively influence decisions. Take for example this common scenario: a stakeholder claims to know the only supplier capable of meeting their needs and wants to quickly issue a PO. What can procurement contribute if the intelligence is not available? If it takes 24 days to come back with a list of qualified suppliers, the stakeholder might have already issued a PO to the ‘only’ supplier.

Now turn the scenario around… with accessible trusted intelligence, procurement can pull up additional options and positively challenge the stakeholder to think differently or give him/her the opportunity to quickly validate their selection by instantly inviting other qualified suppliers to respond. Not only can procurement reduce the friction in the process, but he/she can also gain credibility, increase value to the business, and can ultimately impact the top and bottom lines.

It is easy to agree that procurement needs increased access to supplier intelligence for the sake of stakeholder satisfaction, but perhaps lack of access is a barrier to procurement’s own progress too. Most of the participants in our study agreed that the future of procurement is to become a trusted advisors to the business and enable stakeholders to accomplish their goals faster. This can’t happen if procurement doesn’t rethink how to identify and pre-qualify suppliers, moving away from tactical data gathering and lengthy timelines to adopt new technology that aggregates intelligence into a centralized platform that enables collaboration and continuously accelerates strategic decision making.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

tealbook’s Next Generation: Driving the Future of Accessible Supplier Intelligence  

I have spent my working life building enterprise software companies as a software developer, a designer and an executive. Usually I’ve been involved from the very beginning, but when I joined tealbook as COO it was already growing fast.

What really had me hooked was a vision I shared with Stephany Lapierre (CEO) and Geoff Peddle (tealbook CTO).  We wanted to create the definitive source of peer-driven supplier intelligence. We saw an opportunity to bridge the information gap between enterprise customers and their suppliers. We wanted to create a knowledge community that would deliver trusted insights to all parties while increasing the speed of information and value for all stakeholders.

Over the last several months, we have made incredible progress; we have more than doubled the size of our team, brought in strong AI expertise, and introduced new services such as the Concierge and tealbot. Most importantly, we learned an incredible amount from our enterprise and supplier users. We learned about how they envision the future of tealbook and their desire to continuously accelerate access to trusted intelligence.

“On August 9, 2017, we launch the next generation of tealbook.”

This release is the embodiment of everything we have learned. It simplifies the user experience with a clean, updated interface. The tealbook platform learns and will give back to our users with more insight and actionable intelligence. It improves collaboration among internal enterprise users and bridges an important gap for suppliers. The foundation of tealbook’s next generation is just the beginning. It is built on a cutting-edge technology that will accelerate our continuous improvement efforts and leverage machine learning to deliver deeper insight.

We are listening. We will continue to learn from our users to deliver a platform that is worthy of a market leadership position as the source for peer-driven supplier intelligence. This is a big step towards delivering on our shared vision – the first of many that will make for an exciting fall.

— Ian Woodbury, COO, tealbook

To learn more about tealbook, visit our websitewatch videos from procurement and suppliers on YouTube, and follow us on Twitter: @tealbook.

Move that ‘binder’ to the cloud

move your supplier intelligence binders to the cloud

Eleven years ago, I was visiting a client who wanted to introduce me to a supplier she highly recommended.

“Steph, you need to meet these guys,” she said. “They are incredible and have done great work for my team.”

She leaned behind her desk and grabbed a two-inch thick binder filled with business cards from supplier contacts she had accumulated over her extensive career. She couldn’t remember the name of the company but she knew would recognize the card. She spent 10 minutes filing through her contacts. Luckily, she found the card and gave it to me, but she asked for it back after I wrote down their information. She didn’t want to lose their contact information…

“I left that meeting thinking about the wealth of intelligence she had stored in that binder and the scores of other binders sitting under procurement desks all around the world.”

Not only did it take her 10 minutes to find, it was static and only she had access to it. Her team couldn’t leverage the intelligence, procurement had zero visibility, and her organization couldn’t capitalize on it. The day she left the company, her binder and experiences went with her. That supplier’s information was hidden from her peers, unable to help them grow their business. Unless she was present, or offered the information up, the supplier’s information was not being shared. Read More

I was wrong… and I’m glad my team was right.

tealbook Concierge Service supplier discovery

A couple of weeks ago, tealbook introduced our Concierge Service, which allows any enterprise user to quickly receive a vetted list of qualified suppliers, each time – every time. Concierge was enthusiastically received for its ability to take tealbook’s instant supplier searches a step further: validating that the suppliers discovered through VET meet business requirements, are interested in the opportunity, enhance their profile, and respond on time.

I was initially against the idea of Concierge. I didn’t think tealbook users needed ‘hand holding’. There are no concierges or chatbots in LinkedIn… and I strive to provide the same level of user experience for tealbook. Easy, intuitive, and straightforward with little implementation effort required.

Although that is all still true, my team saw an opportunity. They recognized that it is hard to change some people’s behavior when introducing a new technology into a work flow. No matter how easy or valuable the technology is, people won’t be on board until they experience how it can benefit them… once that happens, you can transform skeptics into regular users and hopefully advocates.

In an attempt to make their case, the team rolled out Concierge to a small group of clients and dedicated a strategic sourcing resource to the task. A day later, the first client request came through. Within a couple of days, our client had a validated list of qualified incumbent and new suppliers to confidently bring to their stakeholders.

Fast access to trusted data enabled procurement to add value to the business by moving the process forward quickly and with the right set of suppliers.

That client came back for more (4 VETs so far) and others started to use the service as well.

Within 3 months, we made the decision to roll out Concierge and add more resources. The data speaks for itself:

  1. 90% of qualified suppliers were approved by stakeholders to move forward with the RFP/evaluation process.
  2. Suppliers in tealbook responded within one hour of receiving a VET versus taking an average of one week when contacted by email or their website.
  3. Although the majority of our clients are more interested in leveraging their incumbent suppliers in tealbook, category managers included 70% new suppliers originally unknown to the team… creating more access to innovation.

We have rolled out the tealbook Concierge Service to all of our enterprise clients at no additional cost until December 31, 2017. 

Concierge gives your team its very own resource to handle all of the tactical up front work associated with finding and qualifying suppliers so procurement can focus on more strategic initiatives and add value to the business. Plus, you get the benefit of building valuable knowledge that will continuously accelerate strategic decisions moving forward…

tealbook Concierge is a great service, and I am glad to acknowledge that my team was right.

 

You’ll be in good hands with the tealbook Concierge Service

tealbook is launching the recently piloted supplier discovery Concierge Service. It is now available to all current tealbook enterprise clients.

tealbook’s VET is easy to use and provides instant recommendations that leverage your supplier data and knowledge from your peers. tealbook’s Concierge Team takes your supplier discovery searches a step further: validating that the suppliers discovered through VET meet your needs by enhancing their profiles and responding on time – every time.

tealbook VETs help all companies instantly find peer-trusted suppliers for any set of requirements and get detailed responses in just minutes to hours. The tealbook Concierge Service is now available for ‘white glove’ support following the VET process, allowing you to spend your time adding value for your internal partners while the Concierge Team further validates discovered supplier qualifications.

“The tealbook Concierge Service generated real excitement during the pilot, said Ian Woodbury, COO of tealbook. “It brought tremendous value to resource constrained procurement teams, so we’ve decided to offer it to all of our current enterprise customers – for free – through the end of 2017.”

The Concierge process is simple:

The tealbook Concierge Service Process

Dana Small, a Sourcing Manager at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, told us: “tealbook’s Concierge was able to get me a list of top validated industry suppliers (also peer endorsed) within a week’s time. Compare this to the typical discovery and RFI review process where it can take weeks to months to validate supplier qualifications, and the efficiency gain for my role is incredible. For a growing business like ours, it gives us the confidence that we are considering the best suppliers while enabling us to move quickly and stay agile.”

With the tealbook Concierge, any company can instantly accelerate the qualification of trusted suppliers. To get started, just login to tealbook, create a VET, and then send an email to concierge@tealbook.com. We’re at your service!

Note to Suppliers: Don’t Fear the Aggregators

I attended a supplier conference a couple of weeks ago. It featured a panel of procurement representatives talking about the increased demand for automation, rationalization, speed, and scale.

There were many frowns in the audience. Someone stood up and explained that they had built a 30 year business based on positive relationships with budget holders. They were alarmed by the future of ‘aggregators’ – think Amazon, Alibaba, and other marketplace type platforms.

As I stood there, I thought of a client from a decade ago who spent 10 minutes searching for a business card in a giant binder full of her supplier connections. I remember leaving that meeting thinking about the wealth of intelligence and knowledge she had accumulated over the years sitting in that dusty binder. Although the supplier on that card connected with her and made a good enough impression to motivate her to share their contact information with me, it wasn’t made available to her team or organization. The inefficiency I witnessed in that moment motivated me to launch tealbook. Today’s technology makes connectivity infinitely more possible than it was just a few years ago. Why not use it to increase share of knowledge and facilitate access to internal peers’ supplier connections?

The most enlightening fact is that the same client’s company shortly after initiated a rationalization initiative with a large consulting firm that took several years and millions of dollars to complete. Decisions were made based on manually collected data about the relative value and benchmark pricing of suppliers across a very large organization.

A technology that embraced knowledge and community would have given them the insight they needed to rationalize their supplier base within a few weeks. It would also have elevated small and diversity suppliers to the deserved status of valuable partners to the business instead of putting them aside in preference for the larger networks.

My point is that today’s technology and ability to apply machine learning enables all suppliers to be known based on their existing client connections and knowledge of the value they provide. With a smart and deeply peer-driven search engine, small and diverse suppliers can be found, considered, and included based on what they do well for other clients, at the very moment a need from a client is identified. Not in a separate tool, but integrated and equally valued among all other suppliers.

So, don’t be scared of the aggregators. Learn how to use technology to build knowledge and differentiate your company from your competitors based on what you do well. It will pay off by putting you in front of other clients with a similar profile and need for your business.

Take a few minutes now to enhance your tealbook profile and see which customers have already invited you to join their tealbook.