The right time for a procurement social network

We live in a digital age where information flows freely.

Social media has taken its place in the mainstream and is here to stay. News outlets now use this to source public opinion. Professionals do the majority of their networking online. Small businesses use its potential to reach mass markets that would not have been previously possible. Social media affects political campaigns and everyday life. It is this flexibility that allows for it to be moulded to any new use.

It is forecast that by 2016 there will be over two billion users of social media globally. The future of social media is predicted to move away from the wide-ranging platforms and refashion as a number of different websites with greater levels of specialisation.

Social networks are already transforming the way professions work through collaboration and integration. Clothing lines have been built through social media plugging. Software engineers help each other to write code and find new ways of working. This has worked for those sectors but why has it not yet happened in procurement and supply?

With supply chains becoming more globalised, technology rapidly advancing and increased participation in social media, there is room for a professional procurement and supply network. It would need to appeal to the innovators and have an incentive for suppliers to sign up.

Through the introduction of such a platform, the following possible features could benefit users of this social media site:

A buyer and supplier rating system. We all know choosing a new supplier can cause any purchasing manager to lose sleep, but with a rating system that can only be affected by real customers, choosing the right supplier would be a smoother process.

Connect with current suppliers through different media, such as call or instant message. Need to get in touch with the supplier but finding time zones a problem? This instant messenger could keep suppliers up-to-date on any correspondence required.

Supplier sector sign-up database. Generally suppliers’ search engine optimisation is lacklustre and contact details can be hard to find. Centralising these into one database would transform the industry and enable purchasing managers to speed up the process.

E-auctions. Struggling to find the right supplier? Through the use of an online portal on the site, e-tenders could be placed to allow for suppliers to place their bids for the contracts available in a modernised version of public procurement practices in the private sector.

The need to embrace social networking is important. As other professions advance and grow rapidly through this technology, procurement must follow suit or it will fall behind. Social media is not a fad and will continue to evolve with the technology and the prevalence of millennials in the workforce grows. Take the plunge and enjoy the benefits.

Tom Daly is a consultant at Procuring

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