Tinderprise – The future of supplier management
A year or so ago I spoke at an Intel event entitled Business APIs, or something similar. My first reaction to being asked to attend was that this was unlikely to be a strategic event, given the focus on application programming interfaces.
I left the event believing that if you do not have an API strategy, you do not, in fact, have a business strategy in the digital economy. More recently, I was having a stimulating conversation with a senior player in a large enterprise organisation about the evolving nature of business models.
Specifically, we talked about how customer fickleness and market volatility are causing supply chains to become demand chains, where the supplier / partner configuration is increasingly likely to morph with the market. Organisations that could restructure their ecosystem dynamically would be best placed to capitalise on market vicissitudes.
To achieve this, the market would need a set of ‘partner protocols’ to enable the union and dissolution of relationships with minimum effort and maximum trust.
Part of this protocol stack would be a set of APIs that seamlessly linked the various enterprise systems of the respective players, such that ordering, payment and so on could commence without delay.
Another element would be security and trust. The ability to choose a supplier without the rigmarole of meeting their leadership team over long tedious dinners would be attractive. This would requirement a security infrastructure and a trust infrastructure. The former focusing on your supplier’s capacity to inadvertently, or otherwise, add risk to your business model. The latter being to ensure they are a genuine organisation, with a solid delivery track record, and are sufficiently financially robust to stick around long enough to fulfil the order.
Such an approach might start off within a sector, and then spread out across sectors. Perhaps each sector would take responsibility for their own APIs, which would reflect sector specific mores. There would be an overarching body that would manage the inter-sector protocols.
As organisations morph from being legal entities to looking more like a portfolio of experiments / bets, the ability to identify and ‘dock’ with partners at short notice for varying periods will be key.
Individuals and corporations, in their attempts to become market leaders, will likely hyper-specialise. Thus customer value propositions will comprise service / product ‘lego-bricks’.
So long courtships in respect supplier / partner management are likely to be placed by tactical ‘hook ups’. Can you think of any players who are facilitating such a casual / tactical approach?