Given all of the recent concerns over product quality and safety, it's no wonder that procurement organizations across industries are being forced to take a much deeper look at supplier credentials and performance related information than ever before. But companies need not take a build-it-yourself to collecting and analyzing what can often feel like the Nth level of supplier information required to meet customer and regulatory requirements and reduce business risk. One example of a third party supplier content service comes from a new alliance between the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), Muddy Boots Software and Agentrics. According to a recent article in Supply and Demand Chain Executive, field auditors will use software "to enter food safety audit results into a handheld computer anywhere food is grown, processed or manufactured. They will transmit the data to a secure … database where food buyers can review auditing and certification records of suppliers." Executives behind the project are hoping that "certified suppliers will receive increased exposure to current and potential customers" and "will be subjected to fewer audits" as well.
Considering the recent headlines about food safety of late, it's not surprising that this early example of a shared database of third party supplier content will be coming to life in 2008. But it's easy to imagine how databases such as these could work in other industries as well from an industry certification and audit perspective. It's all possible to conceive of approaches that might leverage social networking types of business models that would enable companies to share supplier performance, quality and other types of information inside a community of interest. Personally, I believe the future here will not just be won by the existing D&B business models of the world, but rather a whole new breed of provider which looks more like Facebook than a traditional centralized credit rating authority.