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.