Getting the Data Right for Supply Management


As the 2014 Institute for Supply Management (ISM) conference wraps up in Las Vegas, it’s a good time to consider the high points of the show. One of the primary focuses of the ISM conference this year was getting supplier data right in management systems and workflows. Without good data to work with, procurement professionals are at a significant disadvantage as they try to provide value to their organizations. To use a metaphor from the Old West: It’s like spending your time sifting sand in the hope of finding that nugget of gold. And it doesn’t matter how many fancy tools you have; if the data isn’t right, doing your job effectively is just plain hard.

The second key area of focus was mitigating supplier risk. In sessions and on the exhibit floor, ISM attendees told stories of wasted resources and missed opportunities when their suppliers were not able to deliver critical components when and where they were needed.

It’s a widespread concern. According to a survey on supply chain risks conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center, more than three quarters of companies have experienced at least one disruption to their supply chains in the preceding year that was serious enough to require “sustained attention or intervention of the top executives at their organization.” Yet fewer than half of the organizations reported they have a formal process for assessing risk within their supply chains on a regular basis.  In short, the need is there, but the process is not.

What followed was logical. Many people stopped by the D&B booth with questions about how we might help solve these two critical business needs. But there was another aspect of these two focuses:  Other exhibitors – companies providing software applications and procurement services to companies – were very interested in learning how they could incorporate D&B’s critical insight into their solutions so they could better assist their customers in solving these problems. The common statement from all these companies was, “All of our customers are asking us to deliver D&B content within our solution.”

It’s great to see interest in this area growing. In past years, most partners saw integrated business data in their applications and workflows as a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.  It looks now as though that may be shifting as supply professionals understand the real value of streaming insight directly into their procurement systems. Although it’s too early to say whether or not things will change radically this year, it does seem like conversations are starting on a very different note. Partners are saying, “We need this.” And on D&B’s side, the Partner Solutions team has a mandate to partner with companies that can provide D&B insight where and when our customers need it.

It looks like a “perfect storm” may be brewing, with a new commitment to solving customer problems with better supply management content. Stay tuned to the Partner Blog for more news about mitigating supply chain risks.

Posted in Supply Chain Management by Jay Daly

Jay Daly is a Partnership Solutions Strategist for D&B’s Strategic Alliances team.

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