IBM announce small supplier initiative (but not yet…)

I've been intending to cover this for a few days and now Jason has beaten me to it.  So my first task is to refer you to his learned post here.

IBM and a bunch of other blue chips (Bank of America, Citigroup, Pfizer and UPS) have announced Supplier Connection, a small business registration site for suppliers who want to work with the participating giants.   According to Supplier Connection's website, the online service is expected to go live "during the first quarter of 2011."  It sounds good in some ways, and as a small supplier myself, I see the benefit in that single approach.  It seems a little strange to announce now though, months ahead of it going live - I wonder why?  And as Jason says, good for them that they have had a grant from the non-profit IBM International Foundation ...but this is a competitor to a number of other services, who may feel a little annoyed that a 'charity' is funding that?   In the UK (and beyond) for example, Achilles have a strong position in terms of pre-qualification and supplier information in many major industries; a service that includes serious verification and accreditation.

And at the moment it is unclear from the Supplier Connection website how those two critical elements (verification and accreditation), let alone selection, might work - supplier registration is frankly the simple bit, and but the first of several key process  steps to small suppliers actually winning business.

But might this also be of interest to the UK Government (particularly if IBM are funding it)?  There has been much talk of a single registration service for firms bidding for Government work.  It sounds such an obvious and simple idea - but as I know from experience it is one of those concepts that gets more complex the more you get into the details.  How do you verify information?  Who is responsible for keeping it up to date?  How does qualification for bids, let alone actual supplier selection work?

Anyway, we will keep watching this as it develops I'm sure.

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