D&B Expands Supplier Mgmt. Reach in Europe Through Purchasing Supplierforce Assets/IP (Part 1)

Following in the wake of the GXS/Rollstream acquisition, D&B announced earlier this week that it has purchased the assets and IP to Dublin-based supplier management vendor, Supplierforce. Our latest coverage of Supplierforce from late last year suggested the company was in liquidation (for past coverage of Supplierforce's solutions, please click here and here). The announcement suggests D&B has bought the assets and IP out of liquidation, and it also appears part of the management and all of the "customer support" team will be joining the D&B organization. In full disclosure, Supplierforce was a sponsor of Spend Matters Europe/UK prior to entering liquidation.

Yesterday, I talked to Declan Kearney, who is now running Supplierforce as a business unit for D&B. He told Spend Matters that "the particular capabilities of this enhancement to D&B's current offerings are in the areas of Supplier Information Management, Performance and Risk Management." He also suggested that Supplierforce will now be "empowered by D&B's global data and risk capabilities to enable organisations to reduce their risk and costs across their supply base." Here are the major highlights in the transaction:

  • Supplierforce is operating as a geographically focused solution-set within D&B (not an independent division)
  • Further to the transition -- and despite going through liquidation -- the Supplierforce platform (and customer facing team) is still intact and is now a part of D&B
  • Development is still continuing on the existing Supplierforce technology platform
  • All customers have come over as part of the transition

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Our knowledge of Supplierforce's previous financial situation suggests that it had much more to do with the state of the EU and Irish economy from a timing and funding perspective than around the organization's products and ability to drive customer growth. Indeed, the current need for solutions that focus specifically on supplier management and "directly complement typical procurement and financial management systems," as Supplierforce suggests, in such areas as basic vendor management, CSR compliance, risk management, supplier diversity and related areas continues to grow on both sides of the Atlantic.

Declan told Spend Matters that Supplierforce has been able to keep all of its customers as the company has transitioned itself to becoming a solution within the D&B portfolio. Supplierforce does not plan to make any rapid changes to their existing technology platform and is continuing to develop on .Net technology. They are also continuing to use the same development organization, a third-party, as before, yet have gained a sizable team of internal D&B resources who are working through future requirements definitions and related areas.

Despite Supplierforce's financial challenges prior to D&B's purchase of the assets and IP, they are now "back on track from a solution development" perspective and are continuing to push the same road-map plans as before, albeit with significant new enhancements on the data front (more on that in Part 2 of this post). Declan told Spend Matters that there are no plans to migrate Supplierforce customers onto a D&B or other platform.

Where will Supplierforce focus next now that it is part of D&B? Declan views the largest immediate opportunity as in the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe. He notes that they now have access to much larger sales and marketing team than before in the immediate region and will eventually be able to further leverage D&B throughout Europe. Declan suggested that the issues Supplierforce and D&B address today around supply risk visibility are driving the sales agenda in many cases. Given the many economic challenges within the EU at the moment, "the risk of supplier failure is a serious hot button" issue according to Declan. Organizations are also starting to realize that the pressure they are putting on suppliers from a "margin and cash flow standpoint" are starting to have negative risk implications, which is driving the need for greater visibility.

Stay tuned as we examine the current "360 Degree Supplier Management" solution set that Supplierforce/D&B is going to market with -- not to mention some of the development focus areas for future releases.

Disclosure: SupplierForce is a former sponsor of Spend Matters UK/Europe. D&B is a sponsor of Spend Matters. Without commercial interest, Spend Matters Editor, Jason Busch, made the initial connection between the two organizations prior to the transaction.

Jason Busch

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