It has to start with goals and a commitment to solve the problem that needs to be addressed. If it's trying to cut costs, you might start with sourcing to find the best price, then look at the suppliers you use, and finally understand how best to apply the technology to what you're trying to achieve.
iSource: What's the best business model companies should use to achieve their goals?
Ford: On a large, corporate level, what's really needed is a strategic source model, almost a closed loop. Most corporations don't want to go to a marketplace. They don't need that for buying stationery or manufacturing goods. They've strategically sourced those things. They want to have employees buy from contractual arrangements with one or two suppliers in one category. It's a one-to-many model sourcing from known, trusted suppliers based on pricing and contracts that have been used in the past.
iSource: How does that analysis relate to your company?
Ford: That's why we've come up with the business model we use. We can do everything from cataloging for our clients at the front end to allowing for payment at the back end. But our cataloging is done only for our client's chosen selection of suppliers. It's the one-to-many model I spoke of before.
iSource: What about the challenges you and your clients encounter? Can you talk about those?
Ford: The biggest challenge companies face is the confusion that exists out there now. There are so many choices, so many suppliers, so many areas in the supply chain they can attack. And there's confusion among companies about what they want to achieve. They're confused about what to buy and what direction to take.
Everyone is hearing a pitch from a different perspective, but at the warp speed that happens in B2B, companies are being forced to make decisions that are not as well-founded as they should be.
iSource: So, the moral is to slow down?
Ford: Sometimes being a little slower is the wiser approach.
iSource: What are other roadblocks companies face?