Today’s business networks aren’t your Father’s networks. They’re smarter, faster and more global than ever – capable of helping businesses find, connect with, and understand new customers faster and keep them coming back for more. Fueled by business networks, even micro-businesses and start-ups are seizing the future and driving local and global growth faster than they ever thought possible.
Consider the experience of Sage Health Solutions, a 27-person, women-owned company in South Africa specializing in the manufacturing, sales and distribution of medical and remedial equipment and supplies to public and private sector healthcare providers. In the post-apartheid era, government-sponsored empowerment programs helped small businesses compete with much bigger corporations. Sage Health Solutions, which started as a home-based business, not only took advantage of these programs, but also started using the Ariba Discovery™ service to service its first (and largest) customer: the South African government. Management quickly developed expertise and speed in meeting buyer requests, resulting in repeat invitations to bid on annual contracts and renewals. And they began using Ariba Discovery to gain access to more customers and markets.
“Since we began working with Ariba and receiving and responding to all of our tenders via email, we have been able to grow our business from almost nothing to a multimillion rand business,” stated Ruwaydah Tambe, Marketing Director at Sage Health Solutions. Currently, 80 percent of the company’s annual revenue comes through Ariba. Management receives over 500 new business opportunities daily through Ariba Discovery. And looking ahead, they expect between 5 and 10-fold increases in growth in new categories for 2014 and beyond.
The results achieved by Sage Health Solutions illustrate the incredible potential of business networks to drive growth and enable global competitiveness for small, minority-owned businesses. And these same kinds of results are achieved as a matter of course for businesses of all sizes across many industries. But it’s important to recognize that not all networks are created equal – or suited for every business. Each has a distinct focus and set of features and supported business models, making the selection of a network significantly more complex – and more important. Much of the complexity comes from the rapidly accelerating speed of business combined with shifting, expanding, merging and emerging markets in an interconnected global marketplace. So before participating in a network, it’s important to do careful, thorough due diligence. Examples of questions to ask include:
- Is there a specific business process (or several) that must be supported?
- Is there an interest in conducting transactions with partners in a distinct region or vertical market?
- Are there technical requirements that must be met?
- Are there specific value-added capabilities that can benefit the business?
To learn more about how business networks can help your company drive global growth and competitiveness, please click here.