When you think about crowdsourcing, what images pop into your mind? A start-up raising capital from a community of small investors? An online company leveraging its customers to design its T-shirts or other consumer products? Most associate crowdsourcing with such examples involving communities of individuals,most typically involving B2C commerce.
However, the potential from crowdsourcing is just as relevant to B2B commerce. The emergence and growth of cloud-based business networks has created global communities of companies just as diverse and accessible as communities of individuals.
Smart companies are already leveraging such networks to crowdsource, driving innovation, reducing costs and achieving a range of other benefits. For example:
- Traditionally, companies looking to negotiate new contracts would specify exactly what goods or services they needed, invite specific suppliers and bid them against each other for the lowest price.
- Today, the integration of Sourcing applications with Discovery capabilities on Business Networks has enabled a new model. Some companies source by communicating their business requirements over networks and having suppliers (often previously unknown) compete not just by bidding prices but by suggesting the best service approach or product configuration to meet the buyer’s requirements.
- This leverages the experience of the potential supplier universe to drive innovation, reduce costs further and build collaborative relationships.
- It’s no surprise that small or medium sized companies can struggle to obtain financing, especially in today’s credit environment.
- Mediafly, who provides innovative mixed media distribution solutions for the Fortune 1000 customers, struggled to fund large projects because costs would be incurred upfront but payment was often far into the future and unpredictable. This hurt them and their customers.
- By collaborating with existing and potential customers over networks on solutions, they now leverage dynamic discounting to receive early payment when needed to fund large projects, helping drive greater value to their customers, increase revenues and reduce financing risk.
These are just a couple of examples – the true opportunity is far greater. So if you are engaged in B2B Commerce, why aren’t you crowdsourcing yet?
Alex Saric is currently Head of EMEA Marketing for Ariba. His core responsibilities include driving Ariba’s go-to-market strategy and overall marketing efforts in EMEA, serving as regional spokesman and representing solutions management within the region. In his prior role as Director of Visibility solutions, Alex launched and had general management responsibility for the solution area, managing the product roadmaps and overseeing delivery, partnerships and sales enablement. Alex joined Ariba in 2004 from the Mitchell Madison Group/Zeborg, where he worked as a Senior Associate/Product Manager and developed Zeborg’s first profitable software product, a procurement application for the technology vertical. Previously, he served as a Captain in the U.S. Cavalry, having led tank and scout platoons through 2 combat deployments.
Alex Saric holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from West Point (USA) and an M.B.A. from INSEAD (France).