Authored by ConnXus CEO, Rod Robinson
Many supplier diversity trends that began in 2015 will gain traction as we enter 2016. Here are my top five supplier diversity predictions for 2016.
1. Increased focus on supplier diversity data accuracy. As the importance of supplier diversity continues to grow, more companies leverage it as a source of competitive advantage. Additionally, as increasing numbers of third-parties use the underlying data in decision-making—accuracy and reliability are critical. Just do a quick google search to see the numerous embarrassing and costly episodes associated with reporting erroneous diversity data.
2. Heightened focus on Tier 2 spend tracking & reporting. As I wrote in a previous post, many best practicing companies leverage technology applications to collect, track and analyze the relevant diversity spend associated with several of their prime suppliers. As the trend toward supplier consolidation continues, Tier 2 programs are a great way for large companies to foster the development of small and diverse suppliers who will become the primes of the future. Some companies, like P&G, are going as far as connecting key primes with top performing diverse suppliers to create value-added relationships that benefit both the supply and demand sides of the equation.
3. Supplier diversity will be more tightly aligned with procurement and supply chain. In many organizations, supplier diversity has historically been a disconnected bolt-on to procurement. However, as the demographics and dynamics of the business world shift—supplier diversity practices are also changing. Given the rapid growth of minority- and woman-owned businesses, representing over 70% of all U.S. businesses, the relationships and knowledge base of supplier diversity professionals will play a key role in the future sustainability of supply chains.
4. Diverse supplier relationship management processes will expand to broader supply chains. Supplier reliability, risk, transparency, validation… These are all buzz words being tossed around to emphasize the importance of effectively managing supplier relationships and supplier data. Many best practicing supplier diversity companies have captured relevant supplier qualification data on diverse suppliers for years via registration portals. However, many of these same companies are now realizing the benefit of having the same level of transparency for all suppliers.
5. Increased emphasis on innovation. As large corporations continue to reduce the number of suppliers participating in their supply chains, this will make it that much more difficult for small and diverse suppliers to breakthrough without significant size and scale. The best way to combat the scale challenge is coming to the table with unique, innovative solutions that bring value. These solutions could come in various forms including development of new software applications to streamline manual processes or a new innovative approach to product marketing.
The key message for small and diverse suppliers looking to breakthrough large corporate supply chains is this: Innovation will overrule size and scale where true value is delivered. Above average gross profit margins will follow. Here is to a rewarding 2016!
Crystal J. Davis, ConnXus Senior Member Services & Affiliate Program Manager since 2012, brings over 12 years of experience certifying over 200 minority business enterprises in Ohio. Davis shares her story and experience on the highs and lows of supplier diversity as a kickoff to the Share Your Story blog contest February 1 – March 4.
People enjoy stories because they can relate to and learn from others. Whether it’s the latest celebrity drama to business successes and failures—we all love a good story. That’s why I believe it’s especially important for diverse businesses to share their story to inspire and connect with others who may be stuck in a rut or are looking for business growth opportunities.
From my experience certifying small, diverse and women-owned businesses, I cannot underestimate the power of networking. Whether you’re attending a national trade show such as NMSDC or WBENC, or a local diversity conference—networking is the key to connecting with like-minded businesses and accessing educational opportunities.
On Becoming Certified
There are many realistic (and unrealistic) expectations when certifying your diverse business. Several third-party organizations are available to gain certification—including national, state and local certifying agencies. The most recognized are NMSDC, WBENC, CPUC and state municipalities.
After twelve years of certifying businesses, I’ve found the most successful companies were proactive about promoting their company’s strengths and capabilities. Just because you are certified, doesn’t mean that you instantly gain a contract with a Fortune 2000 corporation. Your business must hold the internal capacity and dedication to do business with major corporations.
Why Share My Story?
Sharing your story not only brings a sense of pride that you are helping someone else, but it brings awareness to your company by allowing others the insight into the failures and successes that you’ve endured.
I have encountered an ample amount of diverse business owners who feel as if they’ve hit a wall when trying to do business with corporate America. My advice to minority, women, veteran or disability-owned businesses who might be asking “Why should I share my story?” Here are my four reasons why:
What’s your story?
Submit your supplier diversity stories to email@example.com from Feb. 1 – March 4 for a chance to win $3,000 for your business needs or a charity of your choice.
We want to know…. How has supplier diversity impacted you, your business and/or your employees?
MASON, Ohio, April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — ConnXus, a supplier diversity software company based in Mason, Ohio, now streamlines products into a smart dashboard—opening the gateway for procurement, supplier diversity and supply chain professionals to access a wealth of supply chain analytics in two clicks or less.
The ConnXus supplier diversity sustainability dashboard is complementary with all product purchases and includes two brand-new product offerings:
“That’s right,” said ConnXus chief operations officer Daryl Hammett. “We are giving away state-of-the-art dashboards with every product. We believe everyone should experience the visibility that supplier diversity brings to an organization’s supply chain.”
“Our unique, smart dashboard is a game-changer—disrupting more traditional approaches to supplier diversity management,” announced Anthony Mitchell, senior manager of product management. “ConnXus equips clients with visual representations of their supply chain data that can be easily exported for boardroom presentations and many other purposes.”
Hammett elaborated, “As ConnXus continues to make strategic global partnerships, our dashboard’s recently expanded international supplier registration portal offerings now reach eight different countries—providing corporations and suppliers more opportunities to connect.”
The software company will debut its upgraded suite of dashboard-based applications as a first-time corporate exhibitor at the 2016 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference in Orlando, Fla. June 21-23. During the conference, ConnXus will again leverage its unique supplier matchmaking tool—ConnXSmart—to facilitate meetings between Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) community of partners.
ConnXus continues to innovate the supplier diversity industry space. Upcoming software releases include business intelligence, networking, blogging and category management capabilities.
To learn more about ConnXus supplier diversity software solutions, feel free to schedule a demo prior to the WBENC National Conference. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
ConnXus (www.connxus.com) is a supplier diversity software-as-a-service (SaaS) certified minority-owned business (MBE) headquartered in Mason, Ohio. The SaaS-based company helps small and diverse businesses, including woman-, and minority-owned companies, grow by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporations.
What’s New in Business: ConnXus gains traction at linking clients with diverse suppliers
Revenues double in 2015, more hiring planned
By: Kevin Eigelbach, WCPO contributor
Posted: 6:01 AM, Feb 5, 2016
MASON, Ohio — ConnXus, which helps companies find qualified, diverse suppliers and keep track of their spending with those suppliers, is ready to scale up.
“We have companies that are demanding our product,” said founder, president and chief executive Rod Robinson. “We want to get in front of them and help them.”
After five years in business, the Mason-based company has started to gain traction, doubling its revenue last year to well more than $1 million but less than $10 million (Robinson would not reveal the exact amount). It now has 21 employees, including Robinson, and plans to add more sales and development staff this year.
What does it do?
The most basic service involves taking a customer’s accounts payable or spending records and matching them against the company’s database of 1.7 million diverse suppliers to validate the customer’s spending on diverse suppliers. Different companies have different goals for diversity spending, Robinson said, but it generally means money spent with women-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses, or with small businesses generally.
More advanced services include enabling customers to track their secondary diversity spending — money spent on contractors who then hire diverse subcontractors — and enabling them to search the ConnXus database to find diverse suppliers.
How did it get started?
Florida native Robinson, now 48, moved to Cincinnati in 2002 when he became chief procurement officer for Cincinnati Bell. In that role, he learned firsthand how hard it is for large companies to find diverse suppliers and keep track of money that goes to them.
In 2005, he started his own consulting firm and spent many hours going over accounts-payable data line by line to find diverse suppliers. That reinforced his conviction that a software solution was needed, and he started ConnXus in 2010 to provide it.
Who are the investors?
They include local startup investor CincyTech; Boulder, Colorado-based TechStars, which invests in tech startups; and New York-based Serious Change LP, which invests in high-growth, high-potential minority-owned companies. Management hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million more this year from venture-capital firms, Robinson said.
He added that he and the other employees have also invested a significant amount of their own money with the company through an employee stock option plan. Altogether, the company has raised about $4.7 million, and, while it’s not yet turning a profit, Robinson said, it’s getting close.
Who are the customers?
They include large organizations such as Louisville-based distilled spirits maker Brown-Forman Inc., the National Basketball Association, American Express, Harley-Davidson USA and local clients that include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Who else is on the team?
Daryl Hammett was consulting as a business coach when he met Robinson and became the chief operating officer of ConnXus two years ago. He’s a former vice president and general manager of Sears Optical and an executive for 15 years with Luxottica Group in Mason, a maker of eyewear. He replaced 90 percent of the existing team, he said, and took the company from a scrappy startup to more of a global business.
“We have built the most user-friendly platform in the marketplace,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are taking supplier diversity to the next level, which is supplier inclusion.”
That means not just hiring diverse suppliers, he said, but also listening to their ideas and seeing how they can add value to the hiring company’s strategic plan.
What has the journey been like?
The highs are really high and the lows are really low, Robinson said, but he wouldn’t trade owning this business for anything else. “I wake up every morning excited about what lies ahead,” he said.
In the early days, the challenge was attracting capital and getting clients to take a chance on a startup, he said. Now, the company has both capital and good talent.
“For a long time the wind was in our face,” he said. “Now, the wind is at our back.”
Nine diverse suppliers submitted their supplier diversity stories in the first-ever ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign. Three judges determined three winners based off the suppliers’ history with supplier diversity, community impact and relationship with other diverse suppliers in their own business. This year’s judges included Tamara Lang, Program Manager for Women Excel Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Sheila Mixon, Senior VP of Business Development for Greater Cincinnati Urban League and Executive Director of ORV-WBE; Debra Quade, Kellogg’s Manager of Supplier Diversity.
netlogx, an information risk management service provider based in Indianapolis, IN, is the first place winner of the ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.
Once upon a time, a determined young lady traveled across the pond from England to America seeking employment and a grand adventure. As this story unfolds, months slip into years and her new-found city, friends and work feel like home. She stays, and the story of netlogx begins.
Through the nearly 18 years since netlogx first opened its doors, CEO, Audrey Taylor has remained constant in her commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a direct reflection, she and the team embrace the spirit of diversity in the workplace and through our supplier diversity program, Diverse by Design, which is reflected in our core values and position of our leadership. Our goal is to provide a culture of excellence and inclusion that is demonstrated with our commitment to all employees. We believe that an inclusive culture is one that recognizes and respects differences and actively seeks participation with diverse suppliers which delivers value and drives innovation for our clients.
As diversity is woven into the very fabric of the organization, leadership serves as strong advocates at every level. netlogx has created a Diverse by Design committee that is fully committed and supportive of initiatives which include increased participation in all facets of the company’s goals and planning, ongoing education and strategic community involvement. This is reflected in our senior management which is 88% diverse and includes minorities and women. Additionally, over 50 % of our team members are women.
Diverse suppliers are integral to our 360 degree approach to participation. netlogx purchases over 60% of our goods and services from minority and women-owned firms. We have also developed processes to identify and partner with diverse companies such as our self on potential business opportunities in an effort to fuel economic growth and build long-lasting partnerships.
As a direct result of our supplier diversity registration efforts we secured a contract with a public utility company. We have engaged and continue to seek utilization of MWVBEs on contracts as well as having served as a WBE on several contracts. Not only is it the right thing to do but we have also seen the economic benefit.
Strengthening relationships with Minority, Women and Veteran-owned businesses (XBEs) in the community through promotion and active participation with organizations and companies that strive to maximize opportunities for XBEs has resulted in countless and unimaginable gifts. Our involvement with organizations such as NAWBO, WBENC, MNSDC, city and state programs and company supplier diversity programs has increased awareness and served to elevate our partners, diverse companies and all of those squarely committed to supplier diversity.
In May 2015, netlogx was selected as a Top 5 finalist in the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) National’s “No Small Thing” video contest highlighting the one thing that’s contributed most to their business success. The video conveys our story and how diversity has helped build netlogx into a successful and caring firm that is Diverse by Design. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NszoenzRWqM