This blog post will remain PRIVATE for LinkedIn Discussion Group Members until Monday, September 10th, 2012.
About 18 months ago I was contracted to serve as the Director of Social Media and Small Business Advocate for Supplier-Connection. Since then I’ve been with the development team during Supplier-Connection’s growth in member companies (from 8 to 17) and SBEs (from a few hundred to over 2,800 registered SBEs and another 1,400 registered individuals). As I report on the initiative’s 2Q2012 “report card” I thought it was a great time to take a big picture “snapshot” of Supplier-Connection’s biggest achievement—changing the conversation and moving corporate America back to the greater value of having SBEs as vendors.
If you’ve been around for even a few months you’ve likely read multiple times in my blog – The SBE Lifer – that Supplier-Connection is chartered to provide registered SBEs visibility and access to the procurement departments of the 17 member companies. Although many SBEs would like it to be a repository for published opportunities, it simply is not. Nor is it an initiative that provides SBEs a place to sell to the member companies. However, this does not diminish Supplier-Connection’s ability to usher in powerful marketplace change that directly benefit qualified SBEs.
When a member company signs the Supplier-Connection member agreement they commit to increase their spending with SBEs. I can’t emphasize how significant this is as Supplier-Connection is on the leading edge of a new phase of corporate responsibility—one that’s ushering in a wave of “copy-cat” programs all focused on increasing the percentage of spend with SBEs. (I don’t mean “copy cat” in the pejorative sense, since EVERY new SBE-focused initiative is a “win” for us all – don’t you agree?).
Check out articles at Forbes, Time Magazine and Harvard Business Review and you’ll get a feel for the scope of influence Supplier-Connection is garnering. Additionally, Supplier-Connection is moving its member companies to reverse a +15 year trend of vendor consolidation. This is an extremely difficult task, but I believe you’ll see they are making tangible headway. They are not only changing the conversation about why it’s important to increase SBE spending in the media, but also in the boardroom.
Here are the tangible results from 2Q2012:
- Supplier-Connection now has over 460 registered buyers from its 17 member companies.
- Supplier-Connection hosts quarterly meetings with Chief Procurement Officers from all member companies designed to usher in change, promote the initiative, and hold each other accountable for achieving increased buyer participation, and—most importantly—many have already committed to changing their data collection to include Supplier-Connection buyer activity.
- Several member companies have abated internal policies to include Supplier-Connection registered SBEs in every RFP/RFQ going forward.
- Specific to IBM: of SBEs they do business with, those who’ve registered with Supplier-Connection enjoy twice the growth rate in contracts from IBM than those existing SBE vendors who have not registered.
- Nearly 150 Supplier-Connection SBEs have participated in RFPs. This represents almost a 300% increase over the same period last year.
- Billions of dollars of business have been booked by US SBEs between the Supplier-Connection initiative and other growing SBE-centric initiatives at the 17 member companies.
As we move past the summer into September, I expect the momentum to accelerate. What are your thoughts? I’d like to know…
With the community of SBEs built around this initiative, there’s no reason you should travel this road alone. Let’s use our collective knowledge and wisdom to help each other through the challenges we face.